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On Music

A Seneca-themed inspection of the importance and power of music.

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It is not normal to dislike music. I am sorry, but if you dislike music, you are not normal. There is no way around that. There are numerous different genres and countless different artists, so there is something out there for everyone; if you dislike music, you just have not explored all of your options. There is something out there for everyone.

But then, as I consider the vastness of music, I am obliged to question why I am so concerned with this topic. Why is it that music is so important? Or even how is music so important to us?

Music is the entity that seeps into your bloodstream and immerses itself within your being. However, it is not a drug. It does no harm. Despite what some 1950s conservatives may argue, not even the rebellious howlings of rock and roll encompass a harmful note. To me, and to countless other inhabitants of this planet, music—whichever genre you prefer—is purely good.

You may prefer hip hop, and although I do not, I respect the notion that Jay-Z does for you what Warren Haynes wailing on his Gibson ES-335 does for me. If you feel the same as I do, you should be able to close your eyes and be overcome by such powerful sentiments of inspiration and jubilation; the words sung and the accompanying music should move you unlike many things today are capable of doing. And sitting, listening to music makes me wonder how short clips of instrumentation and vocalization are able to captivate and move such enormous audiences around the globe. How does music have such a sturdy pull on us? I answer simply: we are related to the songs we prefer—not literally, but emotionally, psychologically. There exists a prominent link between the individual and the song, whether it be for connection to lyrics, appreciation of composition, or even an admiration of the vocals. Some songs even possess all of those personal elements, and those are the particular songs which we hold dearest to our hearts.

I am partial to rock and roll, jazz, blues, and some metal—genres that are altogether musically, lyrically, and vocally driven. I know that I can find songs encompassing various emotions within these genres. And while countless separate genres exist, other individuals can find solace in other songs beyond my preference. That is what we seek: a happy song to enjoy when we are joyful, a sad song to comfort us when we are down, a heavy song to extract our aggression when we are angry, a mellow song to serenade us when we are relaxing, and the list goes on. Despite our emotions, the many of us are able to veil ourselves within our favorite artists. But that is not all; the talent of some musicians is unimaginable, and our appreciation for them fuels our admiration.

Although I have a few guilty pleasures, I am more inspired and awestruck by other musicians who encompass such evident talent. Artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Alter Bridge, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Journey, the Mayfield Four, Mr. Big, the Who, Vital Information, and Santana are some of the artists who blow me away with each listen. They are each unique, and the abilities of these musicians are unparalleled by most you hear today. These musicians are some of the greatest songwriters of our generation and previous generations—lyrically and musically. I enjoy lyrics that are poetic, imaginative, creative, and meaningful; most of the lyrics from these artists' songs contain all of the above. But in order to make these meaningful lyrics powerful, the accompanying music needs to be powerful. To me, melodies are important, and the way they are developed through arrangements is vital. True musical artists like Myles Kennedy, Mark Tremonti, Neal Schon, Eric Martin, Jimmy Page, and Pete Townshend are able to create such phenomenal, unique melodies using intricate arrangements, and that is what I appreciate perhaps the most.

I cannot appreciate those "artists" who require twelve individuals to write a single song, and I cannot have complete respect for those "artists" who do not write their own songs. Music you hear on the radio today does nothing for me. My eardrums nearly self-destruct when they come across the noise of a synthesized drum or the irritating sound of a man making up words to rhyme. Although I will not fight with anyone who admires the noise that many modern mainstream musicians release, I will, however, fight with anyone who argues that they are better than the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Doors, Bad Company, Rush, etc. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I am happy that people are able to listen to their favorite type of music—no matter how bad it is—and feel something. That just illustrates the power music has on all of us.

Perhaps the type of music we listen to is a reflection of our own lives. As an individual who loves to draw, play guitar, play piano, and read and write, I am drawn to the more artistic form of music—the music that takes more effort to create. I immerse myself in art and express myself through art daily, and it only makes sense that the music I listen to is a reflection of that. That is not to say that simple-minded people listen to genres of music whose songs are written with nearly no effort, but rather that those people tend to be more spontaneous individuals who would rather dance and just listen to the music than analyze and completely sink themselves into it. Every genre of music speaks to someone somewhere, and every genre of music is a reflection of someone's life and philosophies, so maybe it is not fair of me to knock some genres and musicians; however, I am passionate and cannot help myself.

Music is effectively a form of art. While its mainstream aspect is simply a business, music itself is art. The way Jimi Hendrix crafted his riffs, the way John Lennon formed his lyrics, the way Buddy Holly developed his melodies—these are all forms of art. And countless artists today followed in their footsteps. Today, I am able to submerse myself in the outstanding recordings of Alter Bridge, H.I.M., the White Stripes, Relient K, etc., because innovators like Muddy Waters, the Beatles, and the Who helped inspire masses, and they continue to inspire individuals constantly. I am inspired by these artists as well, especially through my pursuits of the guitar and piano.

So, you see, music has a way of taking over a person and affecting them in various ways. Music can be a form of an escape, where the listener dives deep into the melodies and beats of his favorite artists and hides himself away in the crevasses of his favorite riffs and rhythms. Music can be the comforting entity that matches or improves your mood; it can be the inspiration that drives you to become a better musician; it could be the very thing that makes you jump around and dance; or it could just be the white noise in the background that helps you get through your daily commute. Whatever the case may be, music is vast, and music is important. And you are not normal if you do not like it.

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