….life would be a mistake. So said philosopher Freidrich Nietzsche over a 100 years ago apparently. And although he was somewhat of a controversial figure, in this case I would tend to agree with him. It was whilst listening to some incredibly talented local musicians at Hope Hall on Friday and then over the weekend as I pondered the point more, that I realised just how powerful music is. The audience was taken on a journey that at times had us despairing for humanity but at other times was hopeful for the future and grateful for the inherent goodness of people. It was a rollercoaster night that touched the soul, I defy anyone present to say that they weren’t moved by the evening of music.
On a related note, I read recently somewhere that small children are more responsive to music to calm down when they’re upset than being spoken to and anyone that has sung a certain song over and over (and over) again to a sad little one would be able to hold testament to this. It reaches places where mere words cannot. From day one, we respond to music. It turns our head, it gets toes tapping, it calms us when we feel fraught. Isaac was able to identify the ‘sad’ (minor) parts of music from ‘happy’ (major) at age 2, it seemed instinctual to him, it came naturally. When the kids are feeling grumpy, we put on some loud happy music and within minutes, the mood of the house has changed.
I guess the reason why I’ve been pondering the power of music is trying to wonder what place it holds in our lives especially in the current climate of political unrest and human tragedies that we read about on a daily basis. People talk of music as being a healing tonic for such things, as a motivator for change. I don’t disagree but I am continually amazed by how something as simple as music can affect us so much. Can a protest song drive a revolution? Can a love song help sooth a broken heart? Can a song teach more than we can with the written word?
I’d argue that yes, it can do all this, and much more. So when we’re feeling helpless at the state of the world around us or having some personal crisis, I reckon that a powerful step in at least being able to come to terms with the situation is by finding some music that encompasses what you’re feeling and connecting with it. It might not bring about world peace or an end to homelessness or reunite you with your ex but it might just help you feel a fraction more calm and help you come to terms with whatever is happening. As the well known quote (of author unknown) says ‘music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from heaven to the soul.’