Sometimes I get very brief, vivid pictures in my mind of my emotional and mental state. Due to my recent workload, I have felt stretched thin often times. This past Tuesday, while listening to Maria Schneider’s Sky Blue album, I had one of these moments of introspection, seeing my soul as a solid wall or rock, though which many small cracks were running vertically. Seeping through the cracks from the top down was a golden light – the music I was listening to – seeming to adhere everything together, bringing stability where there was formerly only space.
Music is an incredible gift, a gift that far too often is used solely as a source of light entertainment – or worse, mostly as background noise. While these can be legitimate uses for music, they should be exceptions to how music is used normally, not normal in and of themselves. Where music as light entertainment can be a useful diversion, it should not be the essence of one’s musical consumption. While it is possible to go through life in a musical wading pool, never learning to swim, it is a waste of the wonderful gifts God has given us in music to delight only in that which is shallow and willingly ignore that which has depth beyond our immediate understanding.
A music listening experience can be so much more than a simple diversion or entertainment source; music has power to move the listener deeply on an emotional level, even to heal the soul in a way that little else can. I have recently been considering I Samuel 16:23 in the Bible: “So it came about that whenever the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him.” Regardless of your beliefs as to the historicity of this story, the ancient Hebrew author here acknowledged the power that music can have on a person. It has the power to refresh, to cleanse a person’s spirit.
As someone who creates music, it is also of immense importance to keep in mind that my music is often a vessel to communicate my thoughts and/or emotions to an audience. It is my desire as a composer to touch the audience’s emotions, to cause them to think on something differently than they had thought of it before. I will not always be successful in these efforts, but to work at something and fail is better than to try nothing and succeed. I want to create music that has depth, music that means something, and even music that can change lives.
Let us consider this incredible gift we have been given, and let us put it to good use. May we be mindful of how we both listen to and create music, that we may move beyond consuming milk to consuming meat. May we not simply enjoy the moon – a source of light, but only a glimpse of something much greater – but may we enjoy even more the light of the sun – the golden light that can refresh and soothe our souls.