“If music be the food of love, play on!” declared Shakespeare. I’m not sure about the food of love, but love of music is something I have always cherished.
I like to think it’s in my blood – my paternal grandmother loved listening to the radio and declared that she would hear the music in heaven. I too have never been without a source of music – be it a radio, record player, tape machine, CD player, portable music player, or to come right up to date, streaming service.
The recording and reproduction of music has changed dramatically over the years – from the first gramophone playing a 78 to the up to date streaming digitised high-quality reproduction we enjoy today. Now we can choose to listen to what we want, when we want and where we want.
Of course, there are so many different genres of music – when I think of music, I consider “Western” music – but of course there are other kinds: Eastern music; tribal music; ethnic music. Indeed, music continues to evolve and change with so much diversity – just think of grunge, soul, pop, rock, r n b, reggae dance, religious, classical, country and western, jazz, folk, house, blues, hip hop etc. – the list is endless. Surely, there is something for everyone?
It’s interesting to think what draws us to a particular kind of music – often, it could be what you grew up with it as a child; or it was what you were introduced to from an early age; or perhaps it’s something you’ve discovered along the way.
Personally, I grew up with mainly 60s and 70s pop, seasoned with rock and roll and some sentimentality for 40s and 50s ballads. As I delved deeper into the delights of music, as a teenager in the 80s, I discovered artists that had come a little earlier onto the scene eg, the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Billy Joel – what are now called throwbacks – a useful exploration into the recent past that embellished me with a taste for what might otherwise have passed me by.
I’ve been accused of having conservative taste in music and I admit, I like a sweet song; I like pop and I like a touch of country and western; but there is more than a touch of rock in my soul too! If I wander to the classical, my taste is equally light, with such choices as Tchaikovsky and Vivaldi – but hey, I like what I like! And when it comes down to it – isn’t that what it should all be about? Choosing something that you enjoy listening to – peer pressure to be into the latest, coolest trend aside – you can’t deny to yourself that only certain tunes can really hit the right note for you! (pun intended)
I find it amazing that music can conjure up so many feelings and emotions: it can cheer us up when we’re feeling down; calm us, when we’re stressed; soothe our frazzled nerves and help us drift away into pleasant abandonment. It can make us laugh and it can make us cry.
Music is used in film and TV, for instance, to convey mood – sinister dark music, can conjure up foreboding and danger; whereas as a light-hearted tune can convey a comedic element to a scene – it just shows how amazingly efficient music is at both affecting and conveying emotions.
I guess that some folks enjoy or embrace music more than others; of course, there are great artists, musicians, singers, song writers and composers, who bring us the joy of music. Those maestros aside, there are some of us who are music lovers; some ardent fans of particular bands, singers or composers – stoic festival goers; music buyers and appreciators of the art. Then again, there are other folks who don’t have a great deal of time for music. They seem to lack much interest in it and even appear to be devoid of a sense of rhythm – it makes me wonder how they have escaped music’s enticing spell?
When it comes down to it, the rudimental foundation of music is a beat – a certain beat that we can all feel and join in with together. Surely, that was how music was born – a universal beat, shared by many – a means of communication and conveying of a message – a means of telling a tale – a preservation of tradition and culture. From when the first man or woman clapped their hands together, stamped their feet or picked up a stone or stick to tape out a beat – the rhythm was here to stay.
If we look back to Ancient Greece, the theory of music was born at the hands of Pythagoras, Aristotle and Boethius, with their scientifically based music theory still being used today.
We’ve captured music both in vocal song, but also in instrumental performance; indeed, the invention and development of a whole host of musical instruments has progressed throughout history, reaching the complex and sophisticated creations we enjoy today.
Latterly, even those of us who might struggle to hold a tune, are encouraged to participate in music – singing has been found to be a great stress reliever and lifter of mood – so even if you’re not destined to be the next great aria or top selling rapper, you shouldn’t let that put you off having a go – it’s the taking part that counts – and the benefit is amplified if this is done as part of a group – ie a choir.
Personally, I can’t imagine being without some form of music – when I was younger I worked stoically to build up a record, tape and CD collection – now I embrace the diversity of streaming – but however I access my music – I have a deep-seated need for it to be part of my life.
As the old song goes, “music was my first love..” and what an incredibly beautiful gift it offers us all. If you’re a music lover, I hope you never lose that affection; if you’re not, I’d urge you to try humming that tune, tapping those toes and letting that music in.
As Plato said: Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”