Two weeks ago, I talked about the ways in which music is an art. A week before that, I discussed why it mattered.
Today, I’d like to look at three separate ways that music has an impact on our lives, and why we should be aware of it and enjoy it.
Brace for Impact: Our Social Lives
One of the main ways that music affects our lives is in the realm of others. Look at the kinds of music you like, and look at the people who enjoy your existence or at least tolerate it. For me, at least, I find that many of the people I know and appreciate have similar tastes in music.
Of course, there are always exceptions and they may even be important exceptions, but there’s almost always some kind of overlap between the kinds of music you listen to and the kinds of music people you enjoy listen to.
What does this mean? Well, it could mean nothing. Correlation – after all – does not equal causation. However, I like to think that music influences who we are to an extent that it influences the people who are like us and therefore who like us.
Perhaps I’m going out on a limb here. It’s not a huge correlation, because I myself have dozens of friends who don’t like the kind of music I do. Even some of my closest friends disagree on music taste (interesting car rides ensuing). But there’s always overlap. No matter which friend group or friend circle, there’s always a running undercurrent: one group likes indie and folk, one likes rock and alternative rap, and that other weird one likes spoken word and jazz.
There’s more to it, I think, than just “birds of a feather flock together”. Look at the music industry today. It’s a behemoth. Our society is consumed with the idea of music. We place musical artists on the plane with movie stars, they determine our next favorite song, our next favorite movie, our next favorite fashion sense, our next favorite piece of gossip.
They hold sway over hundreds of thousands of people.
Sometimes, it’s just because they can make us tap our feet and bop our heads. Other times, it’s because their music moves us to tears and saves our lives and makes us think and ponder on deep things, hard questions.
(Note: I’m not saying that the former is useless; I believe both are important… but we do need both.)
That’s a powerful force in our lives that we can simply ignore. We need to be aware of it, to know when to take back control and say “hey… I’m good, thanks”.
Brace for Impact: Our Personal Lives
Music doesn’t just reveal its strength and artistic subtly in the lives we surround our own with; it permeates our own lives and manifests itself in a variety of ways. One very obvious manifestation is in our brains and ears. Every single one of us (I can say this with certainty because if you have the technological advancement to read this, you’ve certainly been able to experience the phenomenon) has had an earworm before. Not an actual worm, but a song stuck in your head that you subconsciously or consciously hum, sing, or think about repeatedly.
These snippets of audial thought can annoy us or enamor us.
Other manifestations find their way into our lives. We’re constantly surrounded by music.
How does music affect you individually? This is one that I can’t really speak to for you, so I’ll speak to it for me.
Music has, in the last few years, done the following for me: inspired me, hurt me, healed me, created empathy in me, created joy and created sadness. It’s attached itself to memories and created memories all their own.
Music has powerful to shape who we are and to create powerful emotion. What does this sound like?
It sounds like a story.
Speaking of which….
Brace for Impact: Our Stories
Music has the ability to inspire our stories to greater heights. Far, far greater heights. I listen to a lot of music when I write (in addition to… all other times). For instance, I’m currently listening to “Collar Full” by Panic! At the Disco, and up next in the shuffled list is “Rustle of Stars” by A Silent Film. If I’m doing something that doesn’t involve other humans, then I’m definitely listening to music while doing it. It provides inspiration and motivation.
At the same time, however, I always suggest listening to music when you can. If nothing else, just lay down and absorb it. Listening to something creative can re-ignite creativity inside of you. Burned out? Have “writer’s block”? Out of inspiration? Out of motivation? Listen to music.
Music is an art. It’s a wonderful, beautiful art full of complexities and stories. Stories worth listening to.