Music has always been a huge part of my life. I love music and I do not think I could live a day without it. I will probably have several posts about music, because there is just too much to talk about here.
To me, music represents a form of emotional expression that is so pure and universal that it transcends anything that words could ever hope to communicate. Expressing emotions through words takes so long and requires so much effort. But through music I can vent my frustrations or my fears or share my joys. Music is the language of emotions for me. Music is also a universal language that I believe anyone around the world can understand.
I joined band in middle school because I wanted to play the Star Wars music, I played the trumpet naturally. Once I started learning music, I could not stop myself. I love to learn new things and have new experiences. I taught myself to play the piano, and then that wasn’t good enough anymore. I wanted to learn more. I borrowed instruments from my friends in band and learned to play their instruments. This made one friend mad, because I was better than him at the French horn after about 3 hours of playing around with it.
To me, music boils down to a few basic skills that are applied in different ways. I see almost everything in life this way, but music especially. To play a trumpet, you need to blow air and move your fingers. To play the trombone, you need to blow air and move your fingers. To play the harmonica, you need to blow air and move your fingers. Same pattern with only minor differences. So to me, learning one instrument is the same as learning all the instruments. The only difference is in semantics and minor adjustments in the way to you hold it. I applied this practice and learned the trombone, French horn, flute, clarinet, tuba, and saxophone. This made all of my friends really mad at me, because for some reason they saw their instruments as precious or sacred knowledge. And somehow, it offended them that I would walk in and ask them what the fingering patterns were and then play their songs on their instrument. It made no sense to me, and still doesn’t! Patterns are everywhere and part of everything, how does no one else see them!?!
Music itself is completely made up of patterns. Chords, rhythms, and songs are all just different patterns that can be studied. I love patterns because they are calming and steady and predictable. I appreciate deeply the fact that an E minor chord will always be made up of EGB no matter what else is going on in life or in the world. E minor is the most soulful chord in existence, with Asus4 following closely behind it. C#m is also a great one. I could spend days describing the way that chords look and feel to me, there’s a fairly good chance I have synesthesia. I thought that everyone could close their eyes and see the music creating a picture in their minds, just like the old visualizations that you could turn on your computer to match the music. I often dream in music and flow through the patterns and worlds that it creates.
Music is also so very strongly associated with memory. I have an encyclopedic knowledge of music that often scares people, myself included. I can name a song within a few seconds of hearing it, name the artist, the album name, the year it came out, describe the album art, and tell a story about the artist. I can also tell the story of when I first heard the song or some experience I had while listening to the song. For example, the song Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes was released in 2003 on the album Elephant. The album art features Jack and Meg White sitting in front a red screen. I first heard this song while learning to ride my bike in 8th grade (yes I was a late bloomer to the biking world). I was biking through a park near my house and the song came on my Walkman (also yes, I was using a Walkman in 2003, I was broke and cassettes were 50 cents at goodwill so I used a Walkman until I got a job and could afford a portable CD player, which is another really dated piece of technology). I stopped riding so I could listen to the song and fell in love with it immediately. It was my favorite song for several years. See all of that I rattled off in a few seconds without googling it. It doesn’t seem as impressive here, but if you see me do that in person it is a lot cooler, I promise.
Music is awesome. If you have read the book The Perks of Being a Wallflower, you might remember a scene where the teens are driving in the car listening to music and the main character says “And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.” That is one of my favorite quotes from any book or person ever. There are so many songs that make me feel infinite and that is why music is one of the greatest things in this universe. Also, read The Perks of Being a Wallflower if you haven’t. I was so stunned by that book because it all felt perfectly normal and I felt like I could have written that book. I only recently learned that the main character was written to have Asperger’s, so I guess that makes sense. A great book on so many levels.