Music is something personal to everyone. Everybody has tastes and preferences. Speaking for me my appreciation for music changed when I started collecting. Over the years I collected every album I found interesting or rewarding enough to listen to. It started with classical harp compositions, followed by Funk, Soul and many other genres. Music always played a big part in my life as music has the power to transport your mind temporarily to another experience of reality, namely you and the music. The importance of music is not easily explained yet easily understood.
First of all music is not just sound. Music is generally defined as the combination of rhythms, melodies and harmonies with the purpose to convey a certain message or purpose. When I emphasise music as being more than sound I acknowledge one thing first and foremost. The experience of music for me is about immersing me in the music to enjoy it. The detached listening experience is something I do not understand personally. Music for me can be either good and worthy of listening or can be nothing and I see no point in hearing it. I am the kind of person to leave a venue when the music is not to my liking. I became a regular at my favourite cafe partly because I enjoyed the music.
Music has its place in culture and history. Like every work of art and literary expression music is always bound to its origins and time. Music thus can give a clue of its meaning at the time of its release. Looking for the meaning of music has led me to read many reviews over the years. The search for answers has led me to become crate-digger and collector. How artists and musicians define and release their work at their given release dates gives them a place in culture and history. There is a reason why some genres and sub-genres are defined of expressions of their time.
Music also makes people express themselves, dance and sing. I can say my love for break-beats and grooves turned me into a B-Boy when I was young. My feet could not be stopped. What to think of Gill Scot Heron’s spoken word art over instrumental backings? Just look at young James Brown dancing and doing his thing. Curtis Mayfield’s sweet voice was a medium for many sad lyrics. Jeff Buckley sang Hallelujah as if it was his last song. Lyn ‘The Preacher’ Collins preached men to Think. Aretha Franklin emphasised R.E.S.P.E.C. T. while making the listener dance and clap. I can go on about Carole King, Kate Bush, Patti Smith, Willem Breuker and Herbie Hancock for hours. The list of unique artists and musicians seems endless.
Additionally the media and music have a special relationship. Both rely on each other and sometimes that leads to acquisitions and contracts. James Brown – one of my heroes – took over radio stations and started his own record labels in his better years. James Brown was a very entrepreneurial artist and musician. There is also the story about Booker T & the MG’s who were originally a studio backing band until their tunes were recognised as good enough to release. Since the sixties the media and the music scene changed enormously. Yep I have to mention Elvis Presley as a big influence.
Music has also influenced the industry of audio components and accessories. One of the most important developments was the electric guitar. Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode and electric Blues would not have existed without the electric guitar. Fender worked with Dick Dale who always wanted more powerful amplifiers which later shaped Hard Rock and Metal. Looking at 2014 I am baffled by the number of goods and services dedicated to deliver a better listening experience. One cannot ignore the developments in copyright issues, DRM, independent initiatives like Soundcloud and Bandcamp, the appreciation for vinyl and the headphone market.
Lastly and most importantly music inspires. The noun music is derived from the noun muse and a muse in Greek mythology was a goddess of inspiration. In today’s English a muse is an inspirational woman. The key word ‘inspiration’ keeps coming back. To inspire literally means to feed one’s mind thus spirit. Without going into many definitions and systems of thought someone who inspires, gives you the idea you can achieve something. Music can have the same powerful effect. When I was younger, listening to a song I liked gave me reason to listen more and find the meaning behind the words. To this day that has not changed. Old Blues music often helps me to put things in perspective and Metal subdues my anger. The tone and the mood of the music can be effective in influencing one’s behaviour.
Music is important for me as it is more than sound. The cultural and historical of music values also matter. The expression of emotions and thoughts in various forms motivate people, artists and musicians alike to do their thing. The relationship between the media and music has been essential through the ages. Demand in music experiences leads to the developments of new goods and services which brought us the electric guitar and all the accessories we have today. Most importantly music inspires people. Per individual music is also a personal matter. I can only hope people everywhere can enjoy their music. Music is an integral part of life.
P.S. I did listen to music while writing this essay. I do need some inspiration. I listened to Florence and the Machine – MTV Unplugged, Charles Mingus – The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady and various artists – Indorock Instrumentals & Rarities. In the final edit and publication Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories will do. Random Access Memories is one of the biggest surprises for me in recent months. Daft Punk understands what makes Disco work. The track Giorgio by Moroder is epic in its own right.