I am of the opinion that music makes the world go ‘round.
Whether you like to belt out radio hits in the shower, hum to yourself while concentrating, assemble the coolest party playlists, or sing along at church, I believe that everyone is a music lover in one way or another.
And music truly does seem to motivate the world, right up there with coffee. Every day – particularly on public transit, when I take it – I see people sporting the ubiquitous white (or red or black or what have you) headphones, piping sweet songs and strains into their grey matter.
My own days are no less musical, although, in tending to disfavour headphones, my method of delivery tends to differ.
Music is part of our universal human experience. As a pastime, it transcends all barriers of age, ethnicity and custom.
Musical and songwriting conventions vary across cultures, but the act of creating and taking in music effects our collective psyche in broadly similar ways, stimulating and enriching our emotions, conveying experiences in an easily digestible format, speaking to us on a primal and kinesthetic level.
It speaks to us in other ways as well, often as uniquely as we all speak to each other. I do personally get swept up in the kinesthetics, even though I’m really not much of a dancer, finding it nearly impossible not to tap or bop or sway or sing (or all of the above) when I hear a song.
But what of my statuesque travel companions on transit, where every pair of feet remain glued to the ground, every head stares straight ahead at nothing, and no body ever moves save to exit or accommodate the entry of others to the vehicle?
What is their music saying to them? Since they’re not moving on the outside, how does music move them on the inside?
Music moves me on the inside too in two main ways:
Music: my memory-keeper
Because I have music playing almost all the time, many of my memories are encoded within the lines and bars of whatever I was listening to at the time of the original experience. For me, a song can evoke a long-lost remembrance and its associated emotions with the suddenness of a flashback.
As well, snippets of lyrics – handfuls of words set to tune that itself is the distillation of a full-blown occurrence – can help me explain my own experiences to myself.
Not only is music the filing cabin of my past, it’s the encyclopedia of it as well, from which I constantly quote (or sing, or ponder) lyrics as situations appropriate to the lyrics’ content arise.
Music: my muse
As a writer, almost everything I write is inspired by music. And yet, for a writer, I’m surprisingly indifferent to most song lyrics in this regard.
While it’s not unheard of for lyrical content to directly inspire what I write, more often, it’s the sound of a song – the instruments, the rhythm, the texture of the singer’s voice (if there even is a singer), and the overall mood these sonic components create – that rouses my imagination.
Indeed, when it comes to selecting music to write to, whether it contains lyrics or not, I choose that for which I’m most easily able to disregard the songwriter’s vision and meaning.
This allows me to create my own story around the music, both when writing or just daydreaming to entertain myself, and, if necessary, attribute different emotions to songs than what they originally contained.
Music should always be about how it makes you feel, inside and out, rather than what it causes people to think of you.
Every song has it’s listener, and every music collection has at least one embarrassing track (if not one embarrassing album, or more; hipsters, this includes you too – you know you’ve got some songs from formerly indie bands after they made it big!)
My favourite genres include trance/electronic, alternative metal, movie scores, singer-songwriter, and a guilty pleasure portion of pop.
A sample of some songs currently receiving heavy play on my computer are as follows:
Losing My Religion – Lacuna Coil – Alternative Metal
- There’s something so much more bleak and visceral about this remake of the R.E.M. original.
A Case for Shame – Moby feat. Cold Specks – Electronic
- Moby’s chilled-out beats are the perfect way to unwind from a busy day, particularly with the soulful vocals from Cold Specks.
Canceling the Apocalypse – Ramin Djawadi – Soundtrack (Movie: Pacific Rim)
- The title is such a clunky phrase from the movie: “We’re canceling the Apocalypse!” Yet it’s such a stirring track, equal parts wistful and hopeful.
Happy New Year – Dido – Singing-Songwriter
- Dido’s distinctive, sweet-sounding drone is the perfect counterpoint to this typically depressing Dido song.
Rock and Roll – Avril Lavigne – Guilty-pleasure Pop
- I told you everyone has one! This song is catchy, has a recognizable beat, and a high concept “us-against-the-world” message.
Now it’s your turn: What role does music play in your life? Post a video or link of a song in the comments and tell me why you love it.