liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
[personal profile] liv
I'm up to the thinky items in the list: a song that makes you think about life. I'm not quite sure what to do with this because in general I don't listen to music to inspire deep thoughts.

Back on Day 9, [personal profile] devi asked: How many people do use music to make them happy, and if so, what's the place of sad music in their lives? I think music in general does elevate my mood, but that's not the main reason I interact with music.

Primarily, music helps me concentrate. I suspect I have some mildly ADD-spectrum traits, and I find it really hard to focus on one task exclusively, particularly if it's even slightly creative. So I nearly always have music in the background. Sad music sometimes works for that, if only because sometimes a slower tempo is helpful with the pace of what I'm trying to concentrate on. Also I aesthetically like the kind of musical tropes which are associated with sadness, even quite obvious things like minor keys, and music which prioritizes the melody over the beat. I'm usually not listening that closely to the lyrics, so there are only a few songs which are so sad that they actually disturb my concentration instead of promoting it.

A second reason I like music is as a form of art. That makes it kind of obvious that it's supposed to cover the full range of emotions. I like songs that tell a story, because I like stories almost more than any other pleasure in my life, and some stories are sad stories. Music evokes emotions, including the kind of pleasurable sadness you get from tragedies that you aren't actually living through. Catharsis, perhaps.

To some extent I like music as a shared social thing. I like talking about it with friends (such as this meme), and finding common tastes or discovering new things that my friends like. And music that connects me to particular experiences because it was playing in the background at a memorable time. And sometimes sad music does help me to convert painful emotions into more bearable, artistic sorts of sadness.

Although I strongly prefer music with lyrics for my background music, I don't listen to the lyrics that closely. I think that's partly because instrumental music requires more concentration for me to appreciate; I'm such a creature of words that even if only a small fraction of my brain is listening I get the general idea, whereas with instrumental stuff I have to focus to pick out motifs and structure. So I'll choose instrumental music if I want to sit and listen to the music for its own sake, but prefer songs as general soundtrack music. That being the case I often don't pay enough attention to the words to make me think deeply.

One song that often makes me stop and think is Song of choice. I heard it interpreted by Solas, a group with a Celtic-ish style that I find hard to classify, it doesn't seem to fit well into either trad or neo. I think this song isn't original to them; I know there's a Peggy Seeger version, but again, she often doesn't perform her own material. But anyway, I really like Karan Casey's voice, and the lyrics are all about taking decisive action before it's too late, a message that seems important to me:
In January you've still got the choice
You can cut the weeds before they start to bud
If you leave them to grow higher, they'll silence your voice
And in December you may pay with your blood
But I think my pick for this meme is going to be Farthest star by VNV Nation. I need to have some VNV in this meme, and they tend to have very thinky lyrics. So some of what I think about life is contained in:
We possess the power
If this should start to fall apart
to mend divides, to change the world
to reach the farthest star
If we should stay silent
if fear should win our hearts,
our light will have long diminished
before it reaches the farthest star
It's a call to action, but a more optimistic one than the Solas.
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Soundbite

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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