Issue 24: Music & Contemporary Culture

"Music transcends physical boundaries, taking us to another plane where anything is possible."

Here Comes the Sun

Stella Si, Brooks School

Jan 31, 2019

I have found that music is the perfect refuge with the fast pace of life. During the fall semester in my senior year, there were times where my anxiety got the better me. With the sheer amount of work and uncertainty about my future, I was often worried that I was going to be a failure. Music became a healer to my momentary breakdowns.

It is hard to describe the feeling of listening to a song, but I shall try nevertheless. When the music turns on, the clamor dies down. And just for a second, I stop breathing, anticipating what is to come. It might be the light hint of a piano, threading delicately, like a good cliffhanger, daring me to listen further to the heartbreaking tale of two lovers. It might be an immediate release of crashing cymbals and bass drums, channeling the angst within me. Whatever the music is, nature and I become one as my troubles melt away, and it’s just me and music.

 

Music can take any form: jazz, rap, rock, classical, or musicals (which I find hard to relate to). There is a song for every mood. As a music nerd, I am fascinated that even though there are only 12 unique notes in western music theory, so much can be created. Happiness is expressed merely through the quickening of notes or a slight change in rhythm. At the same time,  a more melancholy tone occurs with a change of one note going from major to minor. Music is a capsule of time. It parallels economic, historical, and artistic trends through the periods and creates movements of its own. Romanticism in music appeared in parallel with romanticism in art, which reflects the era of heightened emotions over rationality. The civil rights movement went hand in hand with music. We lament tragedies through songs that will carry the historical weight of the different eras till the end of time.  Rock music sparked the counterculture movement with thousands of songs addressing the Vietnam war, which encouraged American efforts in stopping war brutality. Music unites people from around the world, evoking the same emotions in people regardless of language and culture.

 

Music transcends physical boundaries, taking us to another plane where anything is possible.

 

Though there is an unlimited bank of songs on Spotify, I always find myself going back to the same artists, perhaps to reminisce the feeling of listening to it at a dance or with a friend, finding comfort in familiarity. One of my favorite artists is The Beatles. Their passion for creating music courses through their songs. They are genuine, and their music comes from the heart. When I listen to songs like Hey Jude or Let it be I relate to their lyrics of love and understanding. It is like getting life advice from a wiser man. Their boldness to bend music theory rules, combine music styles and innovate lyric writing inspires me. Their music is the great product of creativity and intuition.

 

Every time I need to unwind in my senior year, I turn off all the lights in my room apart from my twinkle lights and turn on my favorite album Abbey Road by The Beatles. The familiar, welcoming vocals of Paul McCartney along with the echoing organ piano or the slow swinging guitar permeates the atmosphere, creating a warm ambiance. A sense of calm washes over me as I sink deeper into my bed. My worries and insecurities fade into the back of my mind. It is just me and the music.

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