Classical Music

Emotion Behind the Music

Are you a musician? Do you sing? Do you play an instrument?


What inspires you play or sing or perform? Where does that come from? What is inside you that creates your need, your desire to play music?

My Piano

When I was a kid, I was one of those hyperactive children from you know where – a kid only a mother could love! (Thanks, Mom!) Heck – I couldn’t even grasp spelling at first, so Mom and Dad – former teachers both – made it a game and taught me how to spell everything backwards so I could then flip them around and spell them forwards! While I don’t still do that today, I can say that it worked. That lesson stuck! Growing up, I never really played sports. And though I loved to read, I was never really a writer – that was my brother’s forte. I only had music. I started piano lessons when I was 5. I played J.S Bach (Who hasn’t played Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring or any of his inventions?) and also some then-popular stuff like Piano Man by Billy Joel or the Entertainer by Scott Joplin then recently made even more popular thanks to The Sting with Robert Redford and Paul Newman. (Ahh…Paul Newman!)

Every day after school when I’d be frustrated, I’d go straight to the piano. That was the only – well, best – thing I had available to me to relieve stress. The music I played was something that had an appropriate place for me for any emotion. If I were so angry that my hands were shaking, I would play Rachmaninoff – a great man who gave us lots of quadruple Fs in his Prelude in C-Sharp Minor. Beethoven’s Sonata Pathéthique was good for that as well.

Though if sad, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata would inevitably change my mood for the better by the end. From there I progressed to the nice, symmetrical, always dependable, always resolving J.S. Bach. As my mood lightened, I could then move on to some C.P.E. Bach and then some sonatas by Mozart, Clementi and Kuhlau. Sometimes it took a while and I’d have to play through and relive every emotion on the keys before my mom figured it was OK to walk in and ask me how my day went by which time I’d give a positive account of the events. Though – I’m sure she always knew better.

Every Emotion Known to Man

Music encompasses every emotion known to man. It has to! What inspires people to write music in the first place, but an emotional experience – sometimes a very serious and traumatic experience. Think about the background of one of Tori Amos’ best albums: Little Earthquakes. Many of these songs such as “Me and a Gun” or “Silent All These Years” were written to express her emotions over having been raped after a performance she gave. Beautiful music can come from very dark places and for her, it helped with the healing process, though I imagine no one ever fully heals from something like that.

Adele’s album “21” was all written starting the day after she broke up with her boyfriend. On the album “An Innocent Man” Billy Joel wrote the song “This Night” about Elle Macpherson. On a cool note, no pun intended, he also incorporated Beethoven’s Sonata Pathéthique into that chorus. Listen for it!

At Last I Can Start Suffering…

In the classic movie, Singin’ in the Rain, Donald O’Connor’s Character, Cosmo Brown, was told by the head of the studio that because of the success of the first Talkie, The Jazz Singer, they were going to turn their next movie into a talking picture. His response: “At last I can start suffering and write that symphony!” He’s then told that he’ll be the head of the new music department to which he responds, “At last I can stop suffering and write that symphony!”

Sure it’s comedic, but it does make a point – that music can come from anywhere!

Music can express joy and happiness. Music can vent frustration. It can express excitement. It can provide a celebration of happy occasions. Music can also delve into the deepest, darkest places in our lives and when it emerges, it can sound amazingly beautiful. Music. It’s always there.

I’m going to close with something I found online thanks to YouTube. We have our America’s Got Talent. Britain has it.  Australia has it. Germany…so many countries have that kind of show. Korea has it, too. Here’s an example from that country, of a talented singer out of nowhere who’s had little or no formal training. He’s a young man now, but as a kid he lived on the streets through what should have been all his grade school years, yet somehow he found solace and comfort – and inspiration – through music. Listen to him sing. It’s just beautiful.

Now don’t even tell me you’re not both smiling and crying for joy!

Can you imagine having that much negativity thrown your way yet still managing to find beauty in this world? I will never be unimpressed with the resilience of the human spirit.

Music did that for him. Music.

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