I want to start this month off speaking about a huge facet of my life, an ever beautiful, rhythmic and completely engrossing experience for me at an almost spiritual level; a beauty I can hear and feel in almost every cell of my body. That beauty is music. From the moment I got in the car this morning and headed to work I began digging through Google Play music, which is an all day every day thing for me, and pulling gems out of the 50’s and 60’s then jumping to the 90’s for some hip hop and R&B as well as sourcing the mid 2000’s to present and each song just brings me to life in a way I find it somewhat difficult to explain. Each song a hit in its own right and each equally as powerful as the last because of the time and attention the artists dedicated to the creation and production.
Have you ever tried immersing yourself in music you love? I mean fully and completely diving in to the experience the artist wanted you to have when they wrote the piece, living the story they are telling, seeing through their eyes as they pour their hearts out through their art? Or maybe experienced that serendipitous moment where the song you’re hearing at the time not only reflects but amplifies your exact mood or experience? It’s almost an emotional ecstasy of sorts to really connect with a piece like that. I find that entrancing!
If you haven’t before, try experiencing your music like this: make yourself comfortable in whatever sitting area you can and put on a pair of earbuds or headphones, noise cancelling if you can, and shut out the din of the surrounding world. Pick a song or artist you relate to, your favorite one, if you have it. Pick the one that lyrically and instrumentally speaks to the core of your being (There are several artists whom, when I hear them, rouse emotion in every fiber of who I am). Turn up the volume to a comfortable level, not overpowering or ear shattering yet loud enough where you don’t have to concentrate just to hear it, and shut your eyes, completing the separation from what’s going on around you and wholly embracing the composition. You might discover a new passion and appreciation for an already persistent factor in most of our lives.
As you listen don’t just mindlessly consume. Instead, pay full attention to everything happening in the song you are listening to. Put yourself in the artists shoes, on their level. Try to emotionally ride the soundwaves of the instruments you are hearing, becoming a passenger on the compositional wave of sounds, truly experiencing the emotional roller coaster of the crescendos and decrescendos, pulse rising and falling with the Accelerando/Ritardando, and actually living the lyrics as the singer/songwriter takes you on a journey of joy, sadness, elation, revelation, self-discovery, whatever piece of their soul was transcribed and etched into the ether of the music world. That is beauty.
For example, I have an affinity for strong female vocalists behind a piano, Amy Lee being my absolute favorite. That woman can literally (and not literally like people say about EVERYTHING in their lives but literally) bring tears to my eyes with her voice and her ability to emote through her music. Evanescence, Amy’s band, has a song on their first LP titled “Hello”. The song is comprised of Amy Lee sitting behind her piano with a microphone and stand. As she mournfully reflects on the discovery of her younger sister’s death when she was young and in school, I can find myself actually experiencing the pain she felt, being right there with her as she works through the complex emotions of learning about death at such an early age then coming to grips with the weight of such a cosmic transgression. Her sultry yet ethereal delivery of emotion and suffering speaks to a part of me that no other form of entertainment seems to reach. It is an equally somber and beautiful composition.
My appreciation for music manifests as a vehicle of catharsis. I have been taken by surprise by songs which have made me bawl like a baby. I have found myself elevated to previously unknown levels of excitement by driving guitar riffs. I feel as though I can physically draw stamina and power from a powerful dubstep track. I’ve felt injustices acted upon social groups as storytellers have recounted them through the medium. I frequently break out in goosebumps in response to powerful vocal deliveries. The soundtrack to my life is a veritable cornucopia of complex rhythms, vocals, instrumentals and electronically manipulated music notes coalesced into deeply moving displays of emotion.
There’s something truly satisfying about connecting with the music you’re listening to on that level. Catchy beats are good for ambient noise when you need a quick distraction or a space filler, but REALLY appreciating music is an experience beyond anything else I’ve encountered.
Can you appreciate the beauty in music? How do you guys listen? Have you ever let yourself deeply experience the resonant quality of a passionately written song?