Whenever I have discussions with people about music, it can either evolve into something wonderful, or devolve into an argument based on false assumptions and childish remarks. I am not pointing a finger, because I know I have – on more than one occasion – accosted someone based off their musical preference. Usually in response to some closed-minded comment or biased opinion which critiqued my musical favorites. After sparring, I always question the basis for our raised voices and unkind words. And conversely, when I have a positive conversation, I always bathe in the sublime light that I am left with after having an intellectual tete. How can such a generic topic – music – spur some of the most heated, blissful and eye-opening moments of communication? What is it about music that promotes this?
As I have stated in earlier posts, I am a firm believer that music helps to mold an individual. I used to argue with my parents that music was not as influential as they thought. Then again, I was trying to make sure certain songs and bands were not pulled from my playlists based off of negative lyrics or the forbidden use of swear words. I firmly believe, however, that music is extremely influential. I think it has a power to alter moods. How many times have you had a bad day and decided what was needed was some music to reinforce a positive attitude. Or when you get ready in the morning or for a date or dinner with friends, how many of you play music? The transformation that occurs in those instances is only scraping the surface of the power music has. The influence.
I know that when someone attacks the music I listen to, it feels as if they are attacking me. It is my belief that the reason my reaction is so strong is based on the reason we listen to the music in the first place. There is some element of the music that pulls at you. It could be a lyric, or a harmony, or simply that repetitive beat that progresses throughout the song. Whatever element it is, it sinks into you.
My fiance and I just moved to Davis, California. I was telling one our new acquaintances about a memory I had of driving around with my old roommate looking for small containers to make jello shots in. He smiled and said, “You have the oddest memory. It’s very specific.” After a few moments of chewing this over, I had to agree with him. In my few moments of thinking his comment over, it became clear to me that memories were not only formed with specifics, but they were formed with direct ties to the music that was playing at the time. There have been months in my life that have been defined by a single song that was listened to over and over. “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga defines my life in February 2009. “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry has been on my life soundtrack for two months now. “One Eight Seven” by Senses Fail was the epic ending to a past relationship. Each song brings up specific moments. I can even recall scents and sights, and they dredge up intense emotions, some entering my body with a visible shudder.
How these songs create such a bond is highly questioned. Especially since not everyone has these emotional ties to music. But for me it answers the question about why when someone puts down my musical preference that I feel as if they are in essence commenting on me as a person. In my mind, the two are inextricably connected. I know it is not the same for everyone, and it is naive to believe so. But it begs to question what creates that connection between song and soul. And how come the ties between the two are stronger in some people and weaker in others?