Why Music: Part Two

I don't save lives, Amy said to Angus.  We continue with the question of Why Music, started yesterday, giving a few more thoughts on what music does for us.

Music speaks to us.  We speak with music, saying to others what we are unable, unwilling, or afraid to say.

Just like we know musicians who tell their story in their songs, we all know of musicians who pen lyrics telling ex-boyfriends what they think of them.  I'd name names, but I'm so totally not up on current celebrities (hey, how can I be, I've been busy in 1317, trying to save Niall!) I might name the wrong one.  Anyway, I'm sure she's neither the first, nor the last to do so.

Shawn does speaks through music in a unique way, leaving music for Amy to find in her own time:
I don't know much Latin.  But I know the text below the diamond-headed neumes doesn't say what the melody does: I made so many mistakes, I'm so sorry, can you believe me?

I draw slow breath, fighting the punch to the solar plexus.  Give me one last chance; please don't leave me.

I arranged it with Shawn for his brass quintet.  I know every word.  He knows I know every word.  I see his eyes, the sad desire in the chapel, as his message whispers against my heart.  I'm so sorry, can you believe me?

Tears sting my eyes.  Give me one last chance.  Please don't leave me.

I slap it away, as if it burns.  A Gregorian chant follows.  But the next manuscript sings out.  Don't forget me when I'm gone.

~~The Water is Wide, Book Three of The Blue Bells Chronicles (click the image below to be taken to the book)

Music brings us memories that will last a lifetime and make us smile years later.  I can give a list of pieces that will always take me back to a certain place and time, and bring back to life, so to speak, the people who were with me at the time.  Songs that will always make me smile, or songs that will bring back a sense of poignancy regarding a sad event or difficult time--or a happy time that is gone.

There are reasons we make play lists.

Every movie has a soundtrack: because music impacts our emotions.  I did a lesson some years ago when I taught school, in which I played a scene from a movie with three different types of music playing behind it and had the students write what they felt during the scene, what they expected to happen next, and so on.  Not surprisingly, the music that played greatly impacted their experience of the scene--even though they were watching the same exact actions.

Music will be a part of the last celebration of life for most of us, in an attempt to sum up our lives and see us on to the next, and to bring comfort and hope to those remaining.

Music soothes and heals.  We are learning how music can help those with Alzheimer's, among other things.  There are entire schools devoted to the art of music therapy, and how various modes impact our moods and our healing.  Plato discusses in The Republic how these modes in fact can be used to impact us in all the ways above, by the musician who understands them.  Kids on the autism spectrum can be greatly helped by learning to play an instrument.

Music tells our story as a people.  How much can we glean of history through the ancient ballads left to us?  How much do we feel the heart and soul of a nation through its music--as I mentioned in my March Books and Brews, The Wearing of the Green is the happiest song you'll ever hear about execution!  The ballads and folk songs of any country--certainly those from Scotland which I'm steadily adding to my YouTube channel--tell us the stories of a time and place.

How many songs are stories set to music?  The Devil Went Down to Georgia, Spanish Train, Lulu's Back in Town?

How many musicians are telling us their life story through their songs?

Why music?  Angus tells us:
"You've no idea," he said.  "When I've watched a child die before my eyes, when I couldn't save him, what music does.  You save souls."


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