As a Street Performer, I’ve often hear the question, “What is music to you?”
In a direct approach to this, one might simply reply, “Music is an arrangement of different notes, often formed around a poem, in a way that is pleasing to the ear.”
This answer is certainly a true statement, however, I feel as though there is something else to it; something deeper.
When I pick up an instrument and start playing, I go into a different state of mind. I am not focused on perfection, nor does the thought ever cross my mind. This performance is a new experience for everyone involved, including me. Nothing about my music is set in stone.
I am a storyteller. Just as your mother or father was when you were a young child. I am a storyteller, and music, is my tale.
Beyond the words that I sing, the notes in a melody can speak for themselves. Many of us have never noticed this, although it is written in all of our subconscious’.
As an example, let us look at Jimi Hendrix. Whether you live in the mountains of France, or the swamps of Florida; chances are that you know exactly who I’m talking about. When his name is spoken, most people think of, “the drug-addled, King of Blues”. I, personally, envision one of the greatest storytellers that ever lived.
The next time you hear his music, think to yourself; “that bent note, that extra loud strum, that unpleasant screeching noise, what does it truly mean?”
Upon further attention to specific sounds, you may find yourself left with an entirely new appreciation for a song.
That bent note we heard. At first glance, that is all it is; a bent note. Look deeper into the context it’s used in, and you will see something entirely different. Perhaps it’s a cry of pain, a cry for mercy. Maybe it’s that anger you have, building up slowly until it’s ready to snap. So many possibilities come from such a seemingly irrelevant thing.
What about that loud, sharp strum? Once again, it could be a multitude of emotions. Perhaps the musician has had a bad day, and wants to break a string to release some pressure. Maybe it is an audible embodiment of that awful, gut-wrenching feeling you get when you’ve lost all hope and the worst possibility has become reality. The possibilities go on.
As a final example, let’s explore that horrible, dissonant screech we have heard at the end of so many songs. What does that mean? I personally, hear everything that life is. Every emotion, hope, dream, aspiration comes crashing down. This sound is a portrayal of one’s life, turned upside down; beyond repair. As is with the others though, there is always room for a new interpretation.
I’ll leave you with these ideas; and challenge you to look deeper into your everyday music. Analyze, compare, and take note of all of the nuances that make the story, whole. You may just find yourself better understanding human emotion; and with practice you will be able to apply these techniques in everyday life in order to tap into the human subconscious.