Monday, November 28, 2016

Guest Blog: Music

Below is a blog from one of my students. I let them write about any topic they wanted so I could assess their content. This student gave me permission to repost. I did not make any corrections because I'm not worried about sharing a "perfect" piece (although it's already gorgeous). I meant to share this awhile ago, but I kept forgetting to ask her.

Reprinted with permission from my student. The student retains all rights to this work. 

      Music is dangerous. It can lead people to tears, bring back harsh memories, and it can make them smile. You are the master of your decisions when you are the master of your emotions. Society today relies mostly on emotions, not facts. That is what makes it so perilous. If you control the music, you control the people. Think about it. When you listen to a song in a soft minor key, you tend to calm down. Your heart rate slows to keep time. You might close your eyes. You breathe deeply. You submit to the melody, and are no longer entirely in control.

      The musician has an important job. A common misconception about music is that it moves people. It is not an active being. It’s more like potential energy. It sits, vibrating, buzzing with life, but not alive. Musicians have to move it. They have to contort the sound and manipulate the instrument to get their personal propaganda to your ears. What you feel is not the music prodding your heart. It is what someone is trying to communicate to you. You feel sadness because they fashioned the song to make you feel that way. Ninety percent of music is not emotion, it is more a calculation of human tendency. Crescendo increases tension. Rubato increases drama because you don’t know exactly what comes next. It is a difficult thing to do because your tone and intonation must remain impeccable at all times, as well as keeping a steady pulse, so that your listeners will give their full attention. You have to express the emotion without getting too wrapped up in it yourself.

      Picture it like this: the musician is speaking, and the melody is a megaphone. If he or she speaks too loudly, the words become jumbled, and indecipherable. It grates on one’s ears.  If that person speaks too softly, the megaphone will not pick up on the voice. It is like the device is not being used at all. Instead, a perfect balance between sound and silence must be achieved so that the audience clearly understands the message.

       The virtuoso takes a breath, and tells his or her story to you. They pour out their hearts to the crowds because they have to. They have no other way to say what they need to tell you. As the curtain closes, and the audience stands, the performer smiles. He has just disclosed to the people a lifetime of secrets, yet the world is none the wiser.