Today’s blog deals with the idea of music in the community AS the community.
Music itself is a communal activity. Great musicians(and not so great) come together as a single unit to create something which is greater than the sum of its parts. They take literal and abstract topics and bring them into focus using skills we roughly define as musicianship. In this blog I would like to draw some correlations between musicianship and those of an ideal community.
Consonance and Dissonance
In music consonance refers to that which sounds pleasing and agreeable whilst dissonance refers to that which sounds tense and desirous of resolution. The majority of music that we hear contains both elements and it is true to say that music that is only consonant or dissonant would be rather boring or indeed painful to listen to. Let me add at this point that both are subjective to the individual listener.
Dissonance in music calls for consonance and vice versa. I would like to use an analogy to describe the function of both in a way that should be easy to understand.
When you read a novel or attend a movie at the cinema, your intention is to be captivated and drawn into the story. The author or director does this by using tension(dissonance) and release(consonance). If we take the common fairy tale as an example we should have a good understanding of the function of both.
In a typical ‘happy ending’ where everyone ‘lives happily ever after’ we generally see the protagonist in the story facing a multitude of obstacles and issues which at times seem life threatening. Whilst we have an intuition that our hero will conquer all and get the girl/guy at the end, the author forces us to experience emotions that would suggest otherwise. There are scenes where we really do not know how they will make it and become triumphant. After all these trials and tribulations, we eventually see the hero succeed and we comment on how brilliant the story was. The trials and tribulations represent our dissonances(requiring resolution) and our happy ending represents consonance(resolution). Our story would be a very boring one if it were only consonant and it might be rather disturbing if it contains only dissonance.
In music it is not always apparent to the untrained ear where and how often these devices are being used but I assure you that they are a cornerstone in the creation of music that is enjoyable.
You may be wondering what this has to do with community? Well music and other forms of entertainment allow us to enjoy this interplay of consonance/dissonance, tension/release and good/bad as arm chair spectators. We can stand back and enjoy the playful dance between the two and appreciate how one complements the other.
Music as the Community
First and foremost I would like to take a minute to remind you of how integral music is within the community. Music has always been present as a source of entertainment and as a force which connects people and indeed connects events and time periods throughout our history. Just mention a period such as the 1980’s and it conjures images of fashion and music which in a very true sense defined that era. This we call culture. Indeed there are always counter cultural movements present in any time period but we can definitely state that music, fashion and the general theme of a period can very much be defined by the music and other forms of entertainment which were being consumed at the time.
The same is true today. Take any small town right up to the largest city and you will find that music, in a very true sense, is the binding agent which holds together seemingly disparate areas of activity such as restaurants, pubs, clubs and shops. The streets are lined with street musicians and even in the average home music is a feature whether that be directly(listening to records, playing instruments) or indirectly(TV shows, adverts, the musical doorbell etc).
So music is fundamental to the community. But how can music itself affect a transformation in the community?
Some feel that the world would be a better place if everything were better. If we could only just remove the bad we would be left with an abundance of good. Nothing will suffice except the triumph of good over evil!
Well music teaches us that the two can and do interact in a beautiful manner for those who can perceive. Music doesn’t teach us that everything is or should be rosy. I argue that the best music doesn’t really teach us at all. It simply shows us how consonance and dissonance are part of the same thing. The beauty of life. The beauty of the struggle. The search for better and more beautiful forms of expression.
So rather than viewing your community as broken and separated why not see it as the beautiful expression of life that it is. When we see things as they really are we are in a much better position to find better, more adequate, more pleasing forms with which we can express ourselves and the community at large.
See your community as a wonderful song. An interplay between tension and release. You should strive to improve it. You should reach out for those in need. You should condemn the travesties which unfortunately take place each day. But don’t blame your area. Don’t blame your community. See it as a beautiful unfolding piece of music. A ‘happily ever after’ style fairytale. See it as something which you can participate in and better express your own joy and your own sadness.
This is one of the many lessons which music can teach us. As a closing statement, please also see that music is a much more powerful force than simple entertainment. Take a look at this history of the human race and notice how important music has been. How at times it has been our only saviour.
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Today’s blog deals with the idea of music in the community AS the community. Music itself is a communal activity. Great musicians(and not so great) come together as a single...
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