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Mind Over Music

Photograph of the blog post author, Mary Woodcock

Mary Woodcock

29.1.2013

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It is not contrary to believe that musicians can more often than not be interesting people. The lives led by these people may not be abnormal or beyond the limits of others, to be honest their routines are probably almost exact to the rest of the population.

Wake up, work, eat, sleep and repeat.

What sets a musician apart however (along with any other form of artist) are their thought process’ and hand-in-hand with this, their perspective.
It is one thing to read music and create a perfect rendition, note for note perfect and flawless timing but at the end of the day it’s a copy, an exercise… A print of a masterpiece. Alternatively, add a dash of emotion and leave to cook for ten minutes and it becomes something else, something new and most of all unique. Don’t get me wrong the millions of hours learning and developing the art pay off but making it your own is what makes it memorable.

So how does a song become more than just a tune?
What must be different to set it apart from everything else?
The answer is simple and easy… Personality.
Luckily this comes included with the artist.

Fact: Everyone has bad days and usually people just get on with things  (or so were taught when we’re young) but nine times out of ten we rely on a coping mechanism to get by.
Example: One day some random guy had a particularly bad one, and instead of making a date with a bottle or taking a sledgehammer to the walls he started to sing. He incorporated a one, four, five chord progression and sang to everyone he could find about his day.
Now, Instead of getting a prescription and a pat on the back from his local physician he got Paid! And a record deal, and a tour bus, and a new house, etc. BUT HE STILL WASN’T HAPPY! (Or so it seemed by his music…) So he wrote more, and thus we have the birth of the Blues (Disclaimer: account may not be historically accurate). I’ll leave it to yourselves to create alternative origin stories for other genres but what I’m trying to say is Music is a coping method. Whether you play, write or listen it makes the days easier.

On the creative side of things the ability to make something from just raw emotion (also more commonly known “something from nothing” equation) is amazing! it is a testiment to cognitive behaviour and further more the individual, it can even be a life line in hard times. To take what life throws at us, nurture it and evolve it into something that is undoubtedly positive (though the sentiment behind the song itself may be negative) is a skill by no mistake.

Having worked in the mental health field I have found that some individuals (no matter how severe their diagnosis) can have a remarkable ability with art, music and songwriting. One such person I recall created a song with me where rather than recite words he came up with scenarios. He could describe every last tiny detail of what would happen (in this instance) in a brief love story… Thirty minutes later we had a very clever, catchy pop song. I recorded it and gave it to him for his birthday. Although I had to endure the song  for a very many months afterward as it found its way to the minds and mouths of everyone else within the environment…

To him, even though his perceptive outlook on the world was ever changing, music and the arts were always something that remained the same.
Another I worked with found day to day tasks unmanageable on his own due to symptoms however if you handed him an acoustic he’d shut his eyes and let out amazing Hendrix like solos. To him music was a tool to make the world make sense. Diagnosed or not though, this feeling applies to most if not all musicians, be their mood high or low. A song can be a cry for help or even a celebration of a situation, and why not? We all have voices. So, when the opportunity arises, why not sing?

On the recreational listening side of things circumstances are alike. Though a song is written with the writer in mind we all have a song that makes us think “That’s whats going on with me!” or “I know how that feels”. We have songs that link to memories and listening to them again helps create connections to much loved memories. On the flip side though there are songs that we can’t stand for similarly reversed reasons.

But a song will NEVER reach you if there is no feeling behind what’s being sung or played with no drive and no effort. Somehow we find it difficult to appreciate art and give it the respect and applause it deserves if we do not believe the artist gives us their all in their creation. Music is an emotional bridge between us and the world beyond ourselves, a link to the artist and all those between. Though their day to day lives may be similar to our own, we find it interesting to hear how their weathering of their lives affects them, and we hold with interest and curiosity to see what they yield from the seeds sown through their sun filled days and storms. They sing what we too feel in a way we never imagined to say, but hearing someone else say it reminds us we aren’t alone. And for however long a moment we are comforted.

I mean, C’mon… Have you ever tried to write a song where you’ve had no feeling or emotion? No good, no bad? With no sarcastic or ironic look on the worlds current affairs or day to day events? Well, what do you get? Jibberish over an atonal rendition of Twinkle twinkle little star! If that’s your thing then great, but you may have a limited audience.



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