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Music: Auditory Storytelling

There’s an ongoing joke among my friends in classes about my taste in music. One of my teachers last semester would play old, popular, or seasonal songs before class. We heard everything from “Stand Up” performed by Cynthia Erivo to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and all in between. I should have recognized more of the artists than I did, and one of my friends ended up making a 3-plus-hour Spotify playlist to help “broaden” my music taste.

I’ve sung in choirs since middle school, so some songs I like are more… traditional (I’ll spare you the nerdy details on why this type of music is fascinating to me, it’s a different story). I also have a mind for the dramatic. Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Waltz No. 2” is worth a try, and even David Popper’s “Dance of the Elves.”

Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.

If I’m honest, I focus on listening to songs that either uplift me or hit my heart with a throbbing sense of wonder. Otherwise, it’s white noise. When I listen to music, I intentionally absorb every note and line like it’s a drop of golden dew raining down from a sky of infinite possibilities. I catch an artist’s sense of deliberation with certain songs, feel their strain to match the words and lyrics just right, and ache to feel the melody once again. Music becomes a fabric of auditory emotion, woven into a web that refreshes our tired minds with a message we can cling to. That’s why I listen to music, even if it’s a specific taste.

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.

Music may technically be a series of sound waves travelling through the air, but we give it meaning, making this medium a complex dimension of storytelling. There’s little distinction between the physics of music and the creative expression associated with the craft. Many brilliant minds throughout history have recognized the need for music in our lives. According to one source, music also has health benefits, as it lowers chances of dementia, while “playing a musical instrument requires active engagement of a wide-range of cognitive processes, including the sensory and motor systems.” Playing an instrument gives you the best results, but listening also has benefits, such as studying with music in the background. If you like anatomy, I encourage you to check this website out for an interactive explanation of the parts of the brain used in music.

A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.

Yes, I know a lot of modern music now, and it’s not hard to find familiar songs when skimming through the radio. I’m careful to stay current so I can relate to others my age, but when I really want to absorb the meaning of music, it needs to be something relatable. The music I enjoy, albeit outdated to some, helps me relax and expand the creative horizon.

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