A DAY WITHOUT MUSIC
One day. That’s all I ask. One day for us to recognize how much we’ve come to depend on and simultaneously disregard music. And to think about life without it.
One day without music in the doctor’s waiting room, the supermarket, the car repair shop. One day in silence while driving, while eating lunch at our favorite café, while having our hair cut. One day to live without a buffer against other people’s conversations, without music’s unique ability to suspend us in our own cocoon while noises of our increasingly crowded world batter us on all sides.
Think about television shows and movies without music to hype the suspense, give us auditory clues about what might happen next and what to feel about the images we see.
Like the old saying that familiarity breeds contempt, music has become so pervasive that we don’t even notice it anymore. Don’t notice, rarely appreciate, and generally don’t support in all the ways that are necessary for it to continue to be a viable art form.
Observers in the business world have warned us. Forbes published an article last year discussing how the music industry is putting itself out of business. The warnings are out there.
Musicians don’t just pick up a guitar sit down at a piano and magically start producing music. As any parent determined for his/her children to learn piano can attest, years of hard work precede the success of most musicians—learning the names of the lines and spaces, the rhythm designated in key signatures and variously shaped notes, the harmonic requirements in melody and supporting cast of chords in certain sequence.
My concern is not just about popular music. Much of what we hear in movie soundtracks and even in television commercials is ‘serious’ music. Like, violins and trombones and percussion. Symphonies are slowly disappearing from our communities. College music departments continue to shrink. If we just removed ‘serious’ musicians from our daily diet of music, big gaps would open up in our need for constant sound.
Do we need constant sound? What is so terrible about pushing a grocery cart down a store aisle without music in the background? Would it wreck our day if we jogged without earbuds? If we drove to work in silence?
Is it fear of overhearing other people talking? Is it really that we need to be constantly entertained in ways we only dimly acknowledge, if at all?
Is it the need to stamp out the ongoing dialogue with our inner self, to block our feelings, to ignore the warnings and expressions of our subconscious?
How did we migrate from worshipful attention to musical performance to this ho-hum disregard?
Why do we need music?
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” ― Plato
“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” ― Albert Einstein
“Music is the shorthand of emotion.” ― Leo Tolstoy
“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” ― Maya Angelou
“Where words fail, music speaks.” ― Hans Christian Andersen
(Denele blogs from Arkansas. You can read more at www.denelecampbell.org)