Music is the thing that –

“Music is the thing that keeps pulling us back into the world”

I saw this quote on Twitter yesterday.

Apparently it was from a green-eyed man cradling an old harmonica. It made me pause for a moment in recognition –

Yes. Music is many things but it is also that.

I was trying, as I fell asleep, to work out how it was that it pulls you back. Whether the pulling back is something to do with how your feet tap when a good song is playing, or how music can get under your skin and make you want to dance. Whether it is the associations that you make around a piece of music which bind you into the world. Whether it is something to do with the lyrics and the yanking back works like the fizz of connection: an empathy that reminds you that you’re not alone; a moment of recognition –

Those words speak to me.

And sometimes the words aren’t necessary because the same is true of the rhythm or tune.

It has been a month of music for me which might be why the quote struck me so powerfully. There has been jazz, and live music, and songs that have taken my breath away. I have had a soundtrack running permanently in the background, punctuating every element of my day: something cheerful for my walk to the bus stop in the morning; mellow rock or some old classics to work to; a strong beat on my way home if I’m going out; a soulful voice to send me to sleep at night. This is not, I guess, particularly unusual but it is, for me, a significant shift. I think I lived for a long time without music. I think I cut it out because I remember being scared of those dark chords that captured emotions I did not want to be feeling, and the sense of alienation that came from listening to things that jarred with where I was. I remember, also, years of getting lost in music which adds an interesting twist to the harmonica man’s quote.

Maybe it just means that it can be the escape and the connection?

Or that the experience of playing music is different to that of listening to it?

I don’t know. Ever since I heard a neuroscientist describe how music is processed in both the left and right side of the brain, I have been fascinated – and awed – by how powerful music is. The science added another dimension to something I had only previously felt. Maybe it is, amongst other things, also this: that we take the world and make sense of it through music; and take what we learn or experience through music back into the world. . Or maybe it is more ethereal than that and music can also be the doorway between the wider human experience and ourselves.

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2 responses to “Music is the thing that –

  1. You’re right in that it can be both the escape and the connection. My first thought was “music is the thing that takes us away from the world (pain, hardship, day-to-day travails, etc.) but you’re right in saying that it brings about connection, empathy and other good stuff. As someone who struggles to enjoy and really feel music when I’m down, this post resonates.

    Describing it as complicated doesn’t feel right – ‘ethereal’ is definitely a better word. Music is so loaded with meaning and emotion and acts on our senses in so many dynamic ways – your description of it being a doorway to wider human experience is right on. 🙂

  2. Thanks James – I think you get what I was trying to say, especially about the really feeling music and the dynamic experience of listening (and playing). Only just beginning to realised how much music is a part of my life and beginning to really explore it again. 🙂

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