November 28, 2012

Sounds and Music

Posted in Uncategorized at 17:53 by Miracle

Studying for an upcoming music exam and looking closer at musical structures cause me to become more mindful of how much they resemble grammatical structures.  Musicians have what we call an imperfect cadence to suggest what a comma would be in a sentence, an interrupted cadence to imply an unexpected interjection of sorts, a perfect cadence and plagal cadence to denote a strong or a gentle conclusion, that even without lyrics, songs without words would still have the ability to communicate to the listener on a different level.  While this information may be elementary to musicians, I shall spare those who are not too interested in musical terminology and go straight to the heart of the matter: Music speaks.

I once had the chance to talk to a music therapist who specialized in employing music as a means of therapy for children with special needs.  She mentioned how she introduces simple melodies to autistic children phrase by phrase and noted how they would seem disquieted or express discomfort whenever she stops in mid phrase – that is to say, whenever she stops without a clear resolution.  Any person will agree that an average listening person would likewise be unsettled if a speaker were to halt suddenly in mid sentence.  It is needless to say that this observation arrives at the conjecture that most of us seek closure, but it is also important to recognize that music, just like words, influence and affect us more than we know.

As a lover of literature, I am also unceasingly in awe of how the great literary works of a country are often synonymous with the compositions of their music masters.  Interestingly, Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, founder of the Suzuki Method of music education, is of the conviction that man is a son of his environment.  The Suzuki philosophy postulates that when a child is cultivated in the right environment with the right thoughts, the right words, and even the right music, any child has the capacity to learn, thereby trouncing the belief that a certain child could be dumb or untalented.  Teaching music is not the method’s main purpose, Dr. Suzuki explained, “I want to make good citizens, noble human beings.  If a child hears fine music from the day of his birth, and learns to play it himself, he develops sensitivity, discipline and endurance.  He gets a beautiful heart.”  It is no mere coincidence that I write productively whenever I listen to Bach’s music, and all the more when I am contemporaneously studying and practicing a Bach composition.  We tend to forget or be oblivious of the fact that what we hear and what we listen to, affect our thoughts, and henceforth, affect our actions as well.

Heeding to the sounds around us can also be surprisingly amusing.  One afternoon, I was basked in indoor coffee-like hues, lost in Brahms, and transferring life’s heaviness on to the piano keys note by note; partly as compensation for my inadequacy in matching the composer’s natural physical weight, and partly as a release for pent-up feelings.  Emotions welled up inside me and were about to be translated as tears when suddenly the Selecta boy drove by, carrying with him that obnoxious warped jingle that begins in neither E nor F, but some note that dwells in an unsettling inbetween-ness.  Such is life, I smiled and thought.  Sometimes, it is an inevitable mixture of comical drama.

Jesting aside, perhaps it would be nice to pause and reflect on what you are hearing at this moment, dear reader.  What sorts of sounds and music are you allowing to speak to you?  If it is classical music, I am positive that your brain is delighted and verily stimulated; if it is the sound of nature, I am most happy for you; and hopefully, it is not junk music (yes, akin to food and reading materials, there is also such a thing), or something stress-inducing such as the roar of the increasing population of motorcyclists who intentionally remove their mufflers and silencers thereby disturbing the peace of our community.   Something has to be done about them, but before I digress completely, here is the bottom-line.  We should pay more attention to whatever it is that is usually penetrating our auditory senses and do what we can to improve them.  The sounds and music that make up our environment, they influence our emotions, our thoughts, our state of mind, and our actions.  They shape us, too.


Filed under Kape-Writed Articles from The Mindanao Observer

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