Saturday, December 06, 2008

Musings on Music

This morning I have had the chance and reasons to contemplate why I love music as much as I do. I've never met someone who just flat out didn't like music. I've met a lot of people with preconceived notions about variations of music, or with preferences so narrow as to limit their scope and intake. But I've never met someone who just didn't like music at all. I think it is safe to say everyone likes music of some variation, style, or taste to some degree. We even go through significant periods of our lives when we are defined and categorized by our choices in listening to or performing music.
Performance Music has been a part of my life ever since I was a very little girl. When I think back I can only recall one short period of time in my life (my late 20's) when performance music wasn't a major part of my life. I started singing and dancing around the age of 4 or 5. I was in a church rendition of the "Music Man" (still one of my favorite musicals) around that age. My extended family has always incorporated singing into our family gatherings. Many of my cousins and aunts and uncles (and by many, I'll go so far as to say the majority) play the guitar and piano. Family gatherings have always included singalong time from our family music collection for as long as I can remember. I was in every school musical and choir from the time I was old enough. By the time I was 11 I was in my first "pro-am" choir (my definition: we rehearsed and performed as professionals, but received no paycheck for our efforts), performing around Washington, DC. When I was 14 I aged out of the choir and moved into an older choir, as one of the youngest members. I was in that choir until I graduated from high school. The friends I made in those 2 choirs are the friends I still think of when I refer to home. I also participated in high school choirs, from show choir to madrigals. Music was always a part of my life, and life revolved around performing.
There was one difficulty I always encountered with music. I have a terrible ear. My mother is what you might call "tone deaf." And the truth is, I'm probably more naturally like her than I am wont to admit. But years of determination to get to sing with choirs forced me to overcome things I could not hear. I have to work three times as hard as other musicians to hear the chord or the harmony. It never helped that my lower register voice sounds better than my higher voice, forcing me to always be assigned to sing alto. For those not familiar with music enough to know, altos almost always sing the harmony. Sopranos always luck out with the melody. Thankfully in my mid-20's a good decade after most of my friends, my voice finally changed. I no longer got compliments for sounding so much like a cute Shirley Temple, and started to develop a vibrato. And I was most definitely a Soprano. However, 20 years of training also meant that my alto register is still there, and I have a fortunately wide range for singing. Unfortunately my ear insists I stay on the melody as often as necessary.
So what is the point to singing music for fun, or listening to the radio, or hiding between our iPod ear buds?
Through music we discover new emotions, we learn new feelings. We hear and feel an expression as we have never known it before.
We do we perform music? To express emotions in no other way possible.
It breaks my heart when I meet people who will only listen to one style of music. While I think it is great that they have found one style of music that expresses their emotions adequately, I think they are also limiting if not stunting their emotional growth as well. By discovering new music you discover new emotions and expressions. So why limit yourself to just one expression?
This weekend I am enjoying several new musicians and styles. And what I love the most about it so far is that I'm feeling something new too.
So just for fun, some links to that which I am experimenting with. Each from a different genre.  Shaun Barrowes - When I Need You the Most  (I can't get enough of this song) - Genre: Fusion/Jazz/Alternative Dido- her newest album "Look No Further" Genre: Indie Pop

(I'll add more to this list as I have time over the next few days. In the meantime, I'd love your suggestions!)

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