If you are looking to cultivate a hobby or take up a new project to fill up your time in a day, I urge you to learn to play any musical instrument. It is a keystone activity and its effects can spill over the rest of the areas of your life. This TED-Ed video will persuade you to practice and play music instead of only, listening and consuming. Here are some useful excerpts from the video.
We often say, ‘where words fail music speaks’. Art forms exist to compensate for the limitation that language provides. Does that mean when we get better at articulating our emotions, we tend to rely on art and music less? Well, I guess so.
When I was in undergrad, and I had just got my first full-time job, I was at that stage of life (18 - 24 years old adult) where I had encountered a plethora of emotions such as friendships, love, financial mismanagement, identity crisis, conflicts with parents, and so on. I was an emotional and mental mess.
Adolescence is a confused phase of life that can help you make better art. Precisely why college students seek out for more new music to listen as they find solace in the most confused stage of their lives. The quality of music we make could depend on our age and at what phase of life we are in.
Another factor is the place you live in. Residing in a crowded metro in a highly populated third world nation means you are regularly exposed to pain and sufferings of people around you. All these can serve as an inspiration to make art.
Personally speaking, since I started blogging the urge for singing and making music for expressing myself has reduced. I still do my daily 'riyaz' as a way to keep my voice and knowledge sharp but, the throbbing need has definitely reduced. Maybe as our command over the language improves, we find lesser need to express ourselves through music and other art forms unless of course, it's a source of livelihood for us.
More often than not, we tend to look for meanings in lyrics of the song. Many vocalists, before they perform, tend to explain what they are singing about and then sing. However, music’s calming effect is felt not by understanding but by the tonal effect. Alain de Botton explains this using lullaby and the story of Cerberus from Greek mythology as an example.
That’s why music is something we need and not merely a want.
The tonal effect of music is not just felt by babies and human beings, in general, but, is also, felt by dogs. The calm yet assertive tone of the master makes dogs listen to him. That’s one reason we shouldn’t yell and shout on top of our voices to get our point across. We must control our tone yet be assertive when we want to communicate our point across to someone. That’s another takeaway from music.
Check out related blog posts below:
Here's how we can use our microphones - by whispering and controlling our tone.
Musician, Peter Gabriel in his conversation with Alain de Botton makes a case for music as a consolation and solace to our daily troubles. He also, talks about his new project called the Interspecies internet and how apes can understand, listen, and play music as much as humans do. Below are some of the highlights of this talk.
We make music for a number of reasons from finding a mate to seeking retreat. Compared to other forms of communication that goes through several filters in our bodily systems, music is a sort of quicker release but, it may not be as precise a weapon as a word. A collection of music is like a box of pills, certain songs delivering certain emotional functions, they may be to calm you down, to comfort you, to excite you.
There’s an area of emotional map that hasn’t been covered and you try to create a song for that. Music can be like an axe in a frozen sea which is equipped from nature. We lock away a lot of ourselves and there are a lot of instruments that finally break them open.
Fear is a big element and is often, undervalued. Bravery is the flip side of fear, fear well-channelled. I am a musician and I pretty much got away doing anything calling what I do as work. That’s probably getting a little more comfortable in dealing with your fears.
The below quote from the interview reinforces the argument that nothing is original and everything is a remix in music.
I must also, add that in Indian Carnatic music most of the lyrical elements are based on Hindu gods, religion, and philosophy (something similar to the gospels in Christianity), the crux of the theme being consolation and therapy to the wounded clueless soul. Peter says something similar on these lines as follows:
He goes on to describe about this new project, Interspecies internet.
Watch his fascinating conversation with Alain here.
Whether releasing sadness or sending shivers down our spines, the songs in our ‘emotional toolbox’ can transform daily life … if we learn how to use them.
Alain de Botton, one of my favorite writers, comes up with his wisdom on the point of music in this article published by Guardian. He argues that the theoretical role of music can enhance our capacity to appreciate music.
Musicians themselves have tended to reinforce such an approach, rarely venturing to supply an additional prose commentary around what their chords are already communicating. Yet a clearer handle on the theoretical role of music may at times enhance rather than impoverish our capacity to appreciate music. Knowing what music does for us can give us a sharper sense of which of its varieties we might be in particular need of, why and when.
He uses the example of Peter Gabriel’s music to make his point clear.
What seems especially striking are his repeated pronouncements that music should, to quote his distinctive formulation, provide us with “an emotional toolbox” to which we can turn at different moments of our lives, locating songs to recover, guide and sublimate our feelings.
One of Peter’s songs, I Grieve, a standard at many funeral services,
knows how to release our sadness and yet also channels and contains it. It creates perfect conditions for a catharsis. It starts with what sounds pure lamentation. The tone is utterly dejected.
Even though we may know these things in theory, we need reminders in the form of songs to turn cliches into an effective call for redemption.
Music is so necessary because it rehearses in the language of the body concepts and truths we are in danger of losing touch with when they reach us only through our rational faculties. Music is “the sensuous presentation of the crucial ideas”. There is a role for music in opening up channels of feeling that have become dammed by habit, caution, excessive individualism, or the demands of daily life.
He uses Nietzsche’s teachings to emphasize this point.
We need to be thoughtful and sober, yet open to the instinctive and the irrational – and it is by combining these two ideals that we stumble towards maturity. This is why music and dance have such importance for Nietzsche (“Without music, life would be a mistake”); they provide us with a setting in which the neglected parts of our personalities can be rediscovered and reconciled. The ‘shiver down the spine’ we feel at points in music are encounters with our suppressed longings for forgiveness, reconciliation and harmony – returning to us with an alienated majesty. The great musicians stock our emotional toolboxes with what we most need to endure life’s journey. Though they don’t always say it themselves, they are in the very best sense the therapists of our souls.
Whoever said that ‘Writing about music is like dancing about architecture - it is a stupid thing to do’ might want to rethink.
This article resonates deeply with Sou's Voice blog's philosophy and explains the connection between language and music.