Music, to me, is much more than just entertainment. It holds such potential, such power that’s hard to put into words. Regardless, I shall try. Music has always been a part of my life. I have a photo of myself singing into a microphone, at the age of 3. Growing up, I loved singing. My parents had wildly different music tastes, and over time I’ve developed my own. They both encouraged my singing, and music was a big part of my upbringing, though neither of my parents were great singers. Music was something you were supposed to take part in, either by singing or dancing, or playing an instrument.
At the age of 13, I started listening to music on YouTube, and since school I was introduced to new music. I kept on singing and exploring musi;, building a massive playlist with over a thousand different songs from a wide range of genres. Looking back, I’m grateful for keeping music in my life. They say to master something, you have to put in at least 10,000 hours of practice. I have lost count of how many hours I’ve spent singing; at home to my parents’ delight – and at times dismay – on the schoolbus, on stages, outdoors, anywhere, really. Whether or not I have mastered it, I don’t know, but I’ve certainly become more capable of joining in on the songs that I love. Now, at the age of 23, music is still something to take part in, not something to passively enjoy.
Music has a way of triggering things within me, be it memories or emotions. Sometimes I put my playlist on shuffle and let myself be taken on an emotional journey. Songs I haven’t listened to in years bring back old memories, just as efficiently as a scent or a flavor. Revisiting my past like that keeps the memories fresh in my mind, helping me remember something that happened; how I felt at the time, and so on. I am an aspiring author and when I began writing my fantasy series, I listened a lot to the dubstep music of Lindsey Stirling. Now, whenever I put on one of her songs, even the more recent ones, I am brought back to that fantasy world I created back when I was 16.
Some songs carry painful memories. Which ones depend on who you are and your personal experiences, but there are quite a few songs associated with dark themes and ceremonies, like funerals, death and heartbreak. A few songs that bring up painful memories for me are ‘Take Me Home’ by Jess Glynne, ‘You Don’t Know’ by Katelyn Tarver, or ‘Don’t Deserve You’ by Plumb. The first two I associate with my depression. ‘Take Me Home’ was one of the songs I sang to my grandmother when she passed. ‘Don’t Deserve You’ was the song I listened to after I lost my virginity to the wrong person. But all of these are unique to my experiences. Other songs, like ‘Everybody Hurts’ and ‘I Will Always Love You’, appeal to far more people I’m sure.
Music is also a way to trigger visions and fuel my visualised journeys. Playing a track which riles me up allows me to imagine epic fight scenes for my books. It lets out all of my rage in an imagined space. Songs like ‘Sunny’ by Boney M, ‘I Feel Love’ by JORD or ‘Into The Unknown’ from the Frozen II soundtrack do that for me. Every beat, every line in the song transforms into a power surge or epic battle inside my head. Some songs take me into a trance-like state. One of them being conscious, and the other subconscious. When I put on ‘In The Shadows’ by Amy Stroup, I let out all the darkness inside and picture myself as a character from a short story I wrote last year. I am conscious for the whole ordeal, controlling what happens. Other times, when I find a song that I love so much I could listen to it all day, I just put it on repeat and lie down with my headphones on. I listen to the song so many times that eventually I don’t notice the song anymore and go into a trance. I’m not asleep, but in a meditative state. I can lie like that for hours. I recently did that with the song ‘Painkiller’ by young australian artist, Ruel. As a result of this, I discovered an underlying track in the song that bothers me greatly. Now when I listen to the song, I can’t help but hear it.
As I wrote in the beginning of this essay, music to me is something which is supposed to be enjoyed actively. As someone without the ability to play an instrument, and the lack of confidence to dance to it, the participation comes in the form of singing, personally. This does mean that when I come across a song I can’t sing along to, I tend to listen to it less. But fortunately, there are fewer songs I can’t sing as the years go by. Singing isn’t just fun, nor just some way to show off. I sing for me, to vent out my emotions, but also to escape them.
This might seem contradictory, but nevertheless it is true. Emotions are stirred up by the music, but through the act of singing, I get so lost in the music that I escape those very same feelings. The stronger the pain, the louder I sing. It helps with my depression, although I sometimes think it maintains my depression in a way, by stirring up bad memories and painful emotions. The music helps me remember, and the memories are mostly painful; not necessarily because what happened in the memory is bad, but because it is in the past. Over. Lost forever. Because of this, you can often see tears running down my face when I’m singing. But I digress.
The point that I am so clumsily trying to make is that music is so much more than entertainment. It is a mnemonic device, a stepping stone to your memories, your emotions, to other peoples’. A gateway to other worlds. And I absolutely could not live without it.