Friday, 11 July 2014

Promote your love of music and writing, what if we had neither?

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. ~Victor Hugo

Sometimes it really does seem impossible to be silent. Things in your life just get to you and you have to let them out. Maybe through joy or maybe this feeling is born of frustration.

At times like this I often seek consolation in the expanse of music. It can heal me on so many levels. Using music as a tool in this way works because it follows some core rules;

First – I must silence my mind to properly focus on the music.

Second – Whatever music I choose (consciously or not) has a connection and therefore a meaning which I can ponder.

Third – Being carried by the rhythm of music is a primal motion that brings out emotion in a controlled manner.

Fourth – The path of the music can often teach (or remind me of) a lesson.

I have used the power of music throughout the course of my life. Ups and downs have had a soundtrack. In my naiveté I used to believe that I could teach other people how to cope with life by sharing my musical preferences.

Of course, music that speaks to me does so for a whole set of reasons. Reasons that may or may not apply to anyone else.

I find that writing can work in a very similar way.

If you don’t believe me, just go back to the four “rules” and replace the word music with the word writing.

But there’s more. Writing has a greater power.

Good writing speaks to you the same way music does. Mental peace, a doorway to contemplation, a controlled rhythm and a lesson. The written word can bring all these, but the best, most beautifully constructed writing can become timeless by combining profundity with simplicity.

Music relies on a mental placeholder to connect the song with the emotion, something that marks a sentimental location in the listener’s life, a geotag on feelings. Writing can break through this barrier. Truly great writing can yield a response by painting a picture that needs no other connection.
I’ll give you an example.

I quite like the song "Spirit of ’76" by The Alarm, if you don’t know it I recommend you find it, it’s worth a listen.

When I hear it I am carried back to days of my youth and my mind dawdles pleasantly through my memories of a past self. As the song says "I find myself in reverie". The song itself rises from quiet and reflective tones to sharp and proud guitar hammering and is perhaps a little harsh for some people, sad too as well as being a call to action. 

All round good music, but I would think that most of you that hear it will not have the connection with it that I have. Perhaps I'm wrong, but it is mathematically unlikely that you heard the song for the first time in the same way that I did, unlikely that you were in the same frame of mind or the same place in your life. How could it say the same thing to you that it does to me?

On the other hand, the written word is not constrained by the rules of music, the pattern can be ignored (carefully). If this is done with skill then all the references required to paint the intended picture, to induce the emotions are imparted in one short sentence or paragraph.

For instance, a favourite quote of mine is by Marcel Proust “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners that make our souls blossom”.

That is a turn of phrase performed with a level of skill to which I can only dream of aspiring. Pertinent, inspirational, descriptive; nothing missed and not belaboured. 

So perhaps I should look at this another way. Perhaps the two are opposite ends of a continuum. Music gives generously while writing must be produced.

I am a consumer of music, but I never compose (except within the depths of my mind), but I am both a consumer and a producer of writing.

The act of producing writing gives me more than the act of hearing music.

Maybe you feel the same way?

Either way, a world with neither would be a barren, joyless pit that I would not wish to inhabit. 

That is why I encourage others to enjoy both music and writing. Let your soul drive for a bit.

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