There is no word in the English language that describes what music does to your heart and soul. There is no word describing why a certain snare beat or bass line will make you tap your feet or nod your head. It is a phenomenon of the human brain and sensory organs that translates the auditory sounds we are hearing into a physical action that corresponds to those same sounds. It is this, the power of music, in which I believe.
The ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius claimed that “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without”. While I am rather sure he never said those words in English, I still understand and agree with the statement’s implication. Music has the innate ability to change one’s entire mindset. A melodic chorus can clear your mind, while the repetition of a familiar line can lull a child to sleep.
We all have our favorite part of our favorite song, where in an instant of blissful sound, all elements of the voices and instruments come together in perfect harmony and release some sort of emotion inside of us, each and every time we hear it. For me, this musical perfection comes during Bob Marley’s “Trenchtown Rock”, during the introduction. The combination of groovy bass, reggae-styled guitar, cheery keyboarding, and island drum rhythms never fail to lighten my mood and force me to tap a foot or finger. Bob goes on to describe the very essence of music in this same song; that “one good thing about music; when it hits, you feel no pain”. His music, and also that of many other artists, has that ability to cause you to forget everything. We can be triggered to be elated, morose, excited, intrigued, or even lost in thought just by hearing a simple melody or rhythm.
Music is the only language that is understood in every nation, state, province, and region of the world. A Syrian man who cannot understand the words of the Four Tops’ “Bernadette” can still hear the passionate love pouring through the voice of Levi Stubbs, and can no doubt experience the same rush of emotion that someone who could understand the lyrics would experience as well. Similarly, a young Japanese girl and a French politician could both have Mary Poppins’ “Spoonful of Sugar” dancing through their minds for an entire week. Music leaves nobody out.
We hear music and it changes us. Whether the lyrics alter our thinking, or the rhythm and beat alter our mood (and stationary state of our feet), the sound and feeling of music represent a power greater than any other in the world: one that can affect every man, woman, and child on Earth. Nobody can resist the urge to play the air guitar during the solos of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird”, just as we will always move our hips to the melodic island flavor of the Buena Vista Social Club. This is the power of music, and in this, I believe.
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