Music To Save Us From Ourselves?

March 31, 2011

I’ve posted about what it means / to be a skeptic /, and / to be an atheist /. Both require abandoning ideas of superiority or of having all the answers.

To let go of one’s preconceptions is essential. If you feel above others, if you think you know what’s what, you stop looking around, stop trying to understand. You never seek reconciliation.

We need to cooperate. We know to our great cost that whatever happens anywhere on this planet affects everyone on this planet.

We need to find common grounds. We have to seek ways to become one people, while still respecting our individual qualities and ideas.

A tricky balance indeed.

I have a theory that music is a possible way to show people how akin we all are.

I love ‘classical’ music – the overarching genre, not just the specific period. / Vaughn-Williams’ ‘Dives and Lazarus’ / is so evocative, so haunting. / Bach’s ‘Chaccone in Dminor’ /. / Elgar’s ‘Introduction and Allegro for Strings’ /. The ethereal themes, so like crystalline starlight in /  Beethoven’s ‘Emperor Concerto’ /. Mozart. / Wagner’s rich drama /. Dvorak. Haydn. Monteverdi. The intense emotions of / Verdi’s ‘Requiem‘ /.

But if there is a music that will unite the world, it will not be of that calibre. It will be the music people sing to, dance to, hear in their minds. Accessible, primal, simple and strong.

One can learn to love classical music – some are born loving it. Most never will even try. Like poetry and literature, if there’s too much of the mind involved, most people would rather be doing something else.

But even those who love the exquisite intricacies of Bach can dance to the beat of hip hop. Folk songs, simple rhythms, simple melodies. Still pulling at the heart, still drawing joy or sorrow, but in an immediate way; those are the songs that can people everywhere can share together.

We still have to contend with nationalism. Just prior to Eurovision 2010 Greece had caused a big financial mess for the EU. It showed in comments and voting. As well, hereditary enemies and allies tend to vote predictably.

The winning song, though, was a / quirky little tune from Germany /. Not bad, but to me the best songs were/  Greece’s ‘Opa’ /  and / Turkey’s ‘We Could Be the Same’ /. I have them on a cd in my car and listen to them regularly – they still delight me. Not bubblegum pop; this is vibrant music encompassing folk, rock, rap styles. Sounds that stimulate and inspire. Rhythm and passion any human can respond to. I’ve given links to other Eurovision songs in / this post / and a / Finnish tango in this post/, which really proves my point about music crossing cultural barriers.

Whatever lies behind globalization, it has to respect regional and national pride – perhaps sharing music would be a way to show that each country, each people have something to offer that everyone can understand and enjoy?

We need to see how we are the same, and from that, learn to appreciate the unique aspects that could enrich, not divide us as a global people.

update:  In a nice coincidence my son sent me a link this morning, adding his observation:  / “the best song ever” / . Ruslana weaves primal themes into her performances. She also fulfills the points I discussed above. In a Western presentation, with Western technology and style, she incorporates essential Ukrainian (Russian will be a more accessible description to most people) sounds and images, as well as a focus on our relationship with earth.

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