Saturday, November 12, 2011

Why Music?

I recently, grudgingly, left a percussion ensemble that I had devoted my life to. All throughout my past, I had been in percussion, music, playing solos. With high schools, independent groups, solo venues. All my life, I've been actively involved in music. Yet now, I left. I'm not with any ensembles, I don't have as many chances to perform solos, I'm clearly not in a high school band. It's the first time in my life that I am completely without a solid, unwavering musical outlet.

I left, partly due to financial difficulties, but there was something else. It didn't feel right anymore, and I couldn't put my finger on it. I didn't know what it was, but I knew I couldn't stay. It may sound cliche, but leaving music like this feels like the breakup of a lifelong relationship.

So I'm not leaving music. I'm still writing. I'm still playing, I'm still working on pieces that interest me, but it's all for myself now. There is no ensemble behind me, no deadline to meet. I'm left very confused. Why did I leave?

I'm writing this out, partly to discover what it is about music that makes it impossible to leave for me, while I abruptly left my one outlet for it, but also, because the conclusions I reach here could definitely provide a driving force for anyone considering music to bring it into their life, and to prevent people who consider leaving it from doing so.

Music is well known as an emotional outlet. Almost every song written is born from distress, or love, or anger, or confusion. You can put emotion into writing, sure. It can be seen in art, in dance, in everything. But it can't be felt like it can with music. The human mind is so much more susceptible to sound than it is to everything else. There is no analysis necessary to feel the meaning behind a song. It's something the human mind naturally picks up on.

No one is emotionally stable. Sure, they seem like it. They say it. But there is always something no one lives a perfect life, yet, through music, these imperfections can be forgotten. Removed. All pain, all sorrow and hardships, simply dissolve in music, and at the end of the day, you feel free. What was anger is replaced with a melody you will always remember, something you can always think back to and feel lighter. A moment of intense joy is left in its place. On the other hand, love, happiness, content, is all magnified by the tunes they produce. Your happiness is no longer a fleeting emotion, but a memory cemented in harmonics. It becomes something that retrieves the emotion put into it when heard. Music cleanses negative emotion, while amplifying the positives.

This is evident. When you hear a song you've heard before, it is always accompanied by a memory. It revives the memory so vividly, there is no better to relive a happy moment. Depending on the intensity of the memory, it can bring back the sights, the smells, the feelings, everything. Music is a time capsule, of sorts. Capture that time where you are alone with a significant other, simply enjoying their company. Nothing feels wrong at that point. Life is perfect. When the song comes back, so does the air of perfection.

Personally, I've rarely used music for a positive purpose. It has always been to escape something, to rid myself of pain. Recently, I have had no pain, and so I felt that music no longer served a purpose to me. In my moment of doubt, I feared what would become of the ensemble had I stayed. But the moment lasted long enough for it to gain credibility, but not enough for it to actually be factual. Music is now almost purely for remembering the positives, yet I can't go back to the ensemble experience. It was there so I could free myself. The people, the countless hours spent in it, I just don't know how to use it as anything other than an escape.

That being said, there is no fault in the nature of music. Most of the people there do it for the positive emotions, I'm sure, and I'm sure the experience is so much greater that way. Simply put, I don't know how to live through the ensemble the way they do. Music, however, has no limitations. It will never let anyone down, it'll never fail those involved in it.

Now, I don't want to defer anyone from an ensemble experience. There is no 'wrong way' to use it. All uses of music eventually converge on using it to increase happiness, provide boundless joy, but also, to impress on all involved that nothing is impossible. In all my years of music, I have never truly felt that I couldn't be better. I seek out pieces that I initially deem as impossible, and a month or two later, I have it virtually mastered. There are no impossibilities with music; if you can't do something now, you'll be able to do it later.

Music's part of the reason I've adopted the mantra "'Impossibility' is simply the limits of the human mind.' There are absolutely no limits with how much you can grow, and music demonstrates this. It begins to spread to the rest of your life, impressing that nothing is impossible. Music is the gateway to a life without constraints. Without impossibilities. Without restrictions. Once music has entered your life, there is no getting rid of it. It will become evident in everything you do, in everything you accomplish. There are no boundaries.

You are free.

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