“There is always music,” a friend reminded me this week.
No matter what.
Without it, life would be desolate, cold and so much more confronting than it is.
Music was and is my escape mechanism, whether I’m plucking the chords of a familiar tune, laboring over some techically difficult piece or simply losing myself in a piece of magic. It has the capacity to take my mind, heart and soul to places that can be soothing, exciting, transformative and very occassionally mind melting.
It can lift my spirits, echo my mood or sometimes spark buried memories. Lyrics can touch me in ways that other words cannot. A weeping guitar can pierce my heart and a switch in mood and tone can leave me breathless and covered in goose bumps.
Music is magic pure and simple
I have collaborated with others and plucked notes from the ether to create something that I could not envisage. My mind has marveled at the intricacies that musicians create spontaneously or through hours of composition. My eyes have drank in the sight of musicians jamming with joy and freedom. I have listened with wonder to sounds and melodies that leave me wanting more. Occasionally something has moved me to tears .I have sought to capture lightning in a bottle by studying theory. It can explain the effect of a phrygian mode and has taught me to recognise the cycle of fifths while appreciating key an tempo changes but I’m at a loss. My brain knows these things but I still have no real idea of where the essence of music comes from.
It is a rare combination of mathematics and art that makes it magical.
There is a myth that says you play better when you’re drunk. It isn’t true. Sure, a few drinks might encourage you to loosen up and be a little more adventurous in your playing, but the freedom is fleeting. Then the bum notes and fumbled chords kick in. Pretty soon the enjoyment is gone and you’re just staggering around wondering where the magic went.
Music comes from the soul.
You can’t manufacture that, nor can you manufacture the feeling of connectedness that can be experienced at a live performance.
I’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with fellow travellers as bands lifted our spirits and took us to someplace else. There literally is nothing quite like that. Then again I’ve sat in dodgy bars listening to trios or soloists play to a handfull of half listeners and still made the connection. There is one occassion where I watched a guitarist play for an hour to an audience of one. He was good. I was privilged to hear him. Music is personal. It can be beautiful at times and it never fails to move me.
All we have to do is to listen, not just with our ears, but with open hearts.
As with everything that is noble and pure, music has been tarnished and soiled by grubby hands and minds that want to package and label everything. Lowest common denominator pap is sold to the masses as cool. Music offers so much more. Discard the labels. Open your ears and lift your heart.
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