The Magic of Music
(Sounds through the ages)
By: Patrick M. Kennedy
People have known it since before recorded history, that is, long before you were a senior, and long before your first birthday, that making music brings people together. It breaks down barriers and almost always leads to good times. The one exception may be the sounds of old-time war drums echoing across the plains … but that was before our time … although it did bring people together for a purpose other than a barn dance.
But what is this Music Thing? Some say it is the art of arranging sounds organized in time and rhythm, to produce a continuous, unified, and evocative composition, as through melody, harmony, and tone. But, some say it is noise … especially those parents who hear it coming from the garage and being produced by a group of teenagers. The many forms of music create many varieties of moods. Really, it is only the organization of noise and rhythm.
“Without music life would be a mistake,” said the philosopher Nietzsche. It is assumed that he never rode on an elevator. “I worry that the person who thought up Muzak® may be thinking up something else,” Lily Tomlin, enough said.
As there are many forms of music, there are many different instruments for producing these musical sounds and they have different classifications. They can be the standard and historical woodwinds, brass, percussion, or strings. But to these historic noisemakers must be added electrical and electronic instruments of today’s genre. In a sense, all these instruments implement and extend the capability of the original musical instrument, the singing voice.
The sounds through the ages have taken on different personalities and qualities. Minstrels and guitarists and other string players were for years the world’s purveyors of rhythmic tones. Then along came Big Bands, Be Bop, Blues, Jazz, Country Western, Rock and Roll with names like Hard Rock, Acid Rock, Grunge, and so on. They all preformed one function no matter what the age or how old the listener. They provided a means of melodic escape from the problems, whatever they were, by dancing with the notes floating around them.
Everyone has the sense that music is beautiful … most of it, anyway. And this splendor helps create peace of mind. But did you know the benefits of music on good health have been scientifically measured? For example, seniors who make music show reduced levels of anxiety, depression and loneliness. That’s a good thing.
If you're not a musician already, you may feel a little embarrassed to get started. But the next time you're at a party and people start picking up instruments, you'll feel embarrassed not to. For most of you, purchasing a piano or organ might be out of the financial picture. But, a small harmonica, acoustical guitar, or even a couple a drum sticks to beat along with the music may be affordable. Beside, with these small instruments, you can practice at home without anyone hearing or being the wiser … until you are ready for a public performance, humiliation, praise, or just plain fun.
Playing fairly well can make you feel like you're on top of the world and increase your enthusiasm for life. And even if you're not brimming with talent, doing your best and even messing up occasionally is a lot more engaging than staring at the Boob Tube. “Music has been my playmate, my lover, and my crying towel,” said Buffy Sainte-Marie, a singer of renown about your age.
Then again the question comes to the surface, what kind of music to play? There are many opinions on this. “Country music is three chords and the truth,” said Harlan Howard, the Dean of Nashville Songwriters. “Rock music in its lyrics often talks ahead of the time about what's going on in the country,” said former Governor of California, and renowned rebel, Edmund G. Brown. “Classical music is classical music,” said by many. Everybody has something to say about music because it is the Universal Language of feelings. Even Ronal Reagan, “Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music.”
Good advice, and just because you don’t play good, at first, doesn’t mean you don’t feel good. The activity, the creativity, no matter how minor, the interaction with nature’s tools and eventually with other seniors, is the real reward from the magic of music.