“Music is the universal language of mankind”
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Why is music so important?
Over the course of my Music Theory & Digital Composition, I was given the opportunity to reflect on the ways music has impacted my life often. I came to the conclusion that while the intricacies of music composition and music theory are super important and fascinating, the real power of music comes from its message and the way it portrays emotions. Sure, an artist can create an outstandingly technical piece, but if it lacks emotion it will inevitably fall short. For me, this means that I can listen to Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On” when I’m happy and Norah Jones’ “Tragedy” when I’m upset. No matter what, there is always a song for what I’m feeling. Music connects me to my community and to people who are feeling the same way I am. It is also an incredibly powerful tool for change and spreading a message. Through my research throughout the class I found that music, at the base level, does that for everyone. Everyone can be attached to music no matter their age, race, class, gender etc, and this can be seen in scientific studies. Below you’ll see a video that details the scientific reasons the world loves music. I’ve included it because I think it does a great job of explaining why the world is so attracted to music as a whole.
Why this song?
Often, when words fail to express thoughts and emotions music fills the holes. As tension rose in the United States and around the world over politics over the past few months, I found myself thinking a lot about my role in the world. I determined that I didn’t want to fight for change in the way many have in the political world recently, but rather, I wanted to bring make people feel better. Instead of feeding into polarization and otherness, I felt the most radical thing a teenager could do to attack a such a humongous problem was to bring kindness and thoughtfulness to everyone as much as possible. In reality, I felt helpless and unable to make the change I wanted to in society. Protests around Seattle felt like they were feeding into negativity and I didn’t know what other action I could take. I wanted to find a direct counter point to the hate that felt so present in society. And so, I decided to write my song about the power of love and kindness in everyday life. Below you’ll see my song titled “The Key”
How’d you write it?
This was my very first experience writing a song and seeing it through the entire production process. I began with the idea and then moved into writing lyrics. I took a night alone in my room with a notebook and my guitar and forced myself to write lyrics. After a few hours I came out with a chorus and a couple verses that I felt were a good start. While in the song writing process I realized the power that music could truly have. For me, writing lyrics was almost like talking out your problems with a best friend. I felt refreshed and hopeful. Music was no longer about sounding good but about feeling good.
After I had my lyrics and chord progression, I went through an editing process. I asked myself, what would my audience think about this? I wanted to make sure I was portraying the message I had in my head. Once I had my final lyrics, I went to record. I recorded my vocals and acoustic guitar and then set to editing and mixing. I added some MIDI elements (electronic sounds inputted by hand that are often made to sound like instruments) and had my final song!
Why that name?
I really struggled to find a name for this song but in the end I decided to call it “The Key” I truly think that compassion and kindness is the key to fixing problems in society and making it a better place. It seemed fitting that a song explaining those ideas would be called “The Key.”
As you listen to my song I encourage you to think of the ways you can treat others with kindness and bring positivity to environments in your life that are often negative. It can be as simple as smiling at someone on the sidewalk or as big as doing community service in your city. For me, I took action through music. I also try to treat people with compassion and think about the ways my action will effect others. Although it sounds simple, the application of compassion is extremely powerful. There are days where my own thoughts and opinions get in the way of my goal of listening and compassion. However, it is important that an effort is consistently made. I now leave you with this playlist that is filled with songs that make me happy and/or carry a message of social change. In the comments below submit a song that makes you feel good or carries a positive message. If you don’t have one of those, what is something that you can do to bring compassion to your community?