The Voice of Music

Terrence - Conway, Arkansas
Entered on September 12, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: creativity

I believe in creating music that speaks as if you had no audible voice.

The other day, as I was walking to the local coffee shop, I passed a nice-looking couple who looked to be around the age of forty. Of course I walked by many other people that day, but these two caught my attention because they were both deaf. At least that’s what I had assumed for the two of them were speaking in sign-language. For all I know, neither of them could have been deaf. Maybe one or both of them could hear but had no ability to speak. Who knows? The point is, the couple was expressing their thoughts in a way other than talking out loud.

And as I entered the coffee shop that day, I began to wonder what life would be like if I could no longer speak. The simplest acts of emotional expression, such as screaming at the top of my lungs in anger or crying out for help on a lonely day would all be snatched away. These thoughts were personally troubling to me because my passion lies within writing and performing vocal and instrumental music. What would I do with no voice?

Then I realized that just as deaf people have ways of expressing their emotions, so do musicians. There are a large number of famous musicians out there who create songs with no words at all. And for a long time I used to wonder how their instrumental music could be so powerful when there were no vocals, no lyrics conveying the ideas of each song. It was on this day in the coffee shop that I recognized the secret behind these musicians’ craft: They speak through their music.

To the naked ear, a sustained high note played by a violinist in the middle of a quiet song is just that. A random high note floating out into the audience. But to the composer, it is a single tear shed in remembrance of his dead father. The loud crashes of a large bass drum or timpani to the listener are the composer’s struggle to fight through the storms of life. A slow, rhythmic bead-shaker…the wings of a butterfly; a blasting trumpet…the surprising beauty of a new sunrise; a fluttering flute…a fresh breath of life and a deep appreciation for living.

I believe in writing music that speaks as if you had no audible voice.