I was talking to someone earlier about music and asked them what music they are into and they said that dreaded answer: “Anything”. Trying not to pull my face, or swear under my breath, I then questioned what genres they prefer and they looked at me blank and said “what do you mean?” Then I realised it was best not to pursue this music conversation any further to protect my blood pressure. I couldn’t understand it as this person seemed bright enough, just wasn’t that bothered about music, or didn’t share the same passion as me and probably wouldn’t give a feck about any of my nerdy idiosyncrasies for facts, figures or formulas for music and guitar patterns. I’m no expert on music, but what I do have is a passion, an aptitude for music, a inquisitive mind, an immaculate record collection, and a CD collection in alphabetical order, that comes with a health warning. So as you imagine, I got a bit frustrated talking to someone who clearly has little interest or a passion for music. It’s not anything I can relate to. You see, for me and for so many people, music is everything and so much more than a leisurely pursuit.
After getting to know so many musicians and artists over the years, one thing that I can confirm is that there really is such a thing as an “artistic temperament” and a “tortured artist” and those I believe are “undiscovered geniuses” appear to share similar personality traits, an undisputed mix of right side of the brain creativity, empirical and abstract, whilst remaining analytical, binary boffs, collectively driven by an intense desire to create music that comes from within. Although I don’t like putting people in boxes, I do believe that musicians have an extra-sensory pathway that allows frequencies of mind, body and soul to connect. Although I am not a musician myself, I do believe strongly in the vibration of music and how it is like short-hand that directly links to our soul or inner-voice. Trying not to go all hippy, amateur anthropologist or musicologist, music without a doubt is extremely powerful, not just culturally, socially and cognitively but universally on a multitude of levels. Whether it is placed in a cross-cultural context or not, I believe music is communal and unites us through its primitive beats, visceral riffs and when it lifts its vibe it attracts our tribe. Music as an entity that helps us self-regulate our emotions, a solitude pursuit, which intrinsically motivates, counsels and alleviates alienation.
Music has a mysterious power that emits emotion, that is embodied with remnants from our past and present. There are indeed instruments, aside from the human voice, that can create melancholy and ones that can elate in equal measures. Whenever I hear Damian Rice’s Blowers Daughter, that melancholic cello gets me every time, not to mention the crestfallen lyrics and woeful and wistful vocals of Damian Rice and Lisa Hannigan. Whatever the song, I am always intrigued how music can be both languid and through it’s sororities, periodicity, irregularities, the polyphony of rhythms and a cacophony of sounds can reveal an array of perceptions, responses and psychological states.
Sometimes when you listen up close to a piece of music, you can really feel the joy or pain of the artist. Ian Curtis, along with Kurt Cobain, are prime examples. Whenever I hear their voices, I can hear their pain. It’s etched in every iota, vibration, pitch and frequency. The discord of Curtis and Cobain is evident, the fractured energy is the tones, drones and jolt of angst emanates from within, whilst attempting to hermetically seal their broken pieces. In essence, music is so much more than a fleeting network of vibrations, it connects us to our mind, body and soul and draws energy from the cosmos that reverberates and seeps back into our veins.
Music, I believe, is a spiritual tool that can be mind altering and can transcend and have a profound affect on our well-being. For anyone who believes in an after life, music can reinforce a sense of higher forces at work. In particular, with classical music, I always feel a sense of angelic bliss and ethereal charm that totally captivates and resonates with the human spirit. Music denotes a strong sense of culture, representing intricate links with values, rituals and religion, which unites and offers an outlet for self-expression and appreciation.
I also think some music carries a high level of sexual energy, which takes us back to our primitive selves, mirroring photo-sexual dynamics through the come hither sounds of vocal sighs, drum beats, erratic riffs and dark electronica. Morover, it’s through the rhythms, tension, trembles and crescendo’s that music delves deep into our sexual energy and becomes an eargasmic outlet for our senses. Even recent studies by Dr Daniel Levitin, a neuroscientist at McGill University in Canada, has confirmed that listening to music stimulates the same areas of the brain associated with sexual pleasure, taking recreational drugs or indulging in tasty food. So for anyone who says they aren’t really “bothered about music” or “I just listen to chart music” or can’t feel its “gut-wrenching sensuality”… I really can’t relate and I suggest you get some Joy Divison down ya neck!