In honour of World Music Day this week I’ve been reminiscing about musical moments that still resonate today. What an amazing thing for our species to create – come to think of it, who was the first human to pluck a string or sing a note?
I studied music at school and at various concerts we pupils would obediently take to the stage and plonk or honk our way through set pieces before sitting down again, affecting boredom but really quite nervous. Then Julie would stand up with her violin and play the méditation from Thäis by Massenet, leaving us less talented pupils smiling through gritted teeth and the parents and teachers open-mouthed in astonishment.
I ignored the emotion at the time (too cool for school you understand) but I’ve never forgotten how those notes made me feel. Years later in Lübeck town square in Northern Germany, a violinist was playing Julie’s piece as I strolled by. All was well until that final harmonic note and I started to cry. It was so sudden and surprising that I laughed too. Music had taken a direct hit and control, for once, didn’t win.
Music does this. Art does this. Somehow it speaks to sections of our hearts and minds that otherwise remain closed. Creating playlists for different life events simply brings colour – the pop mix for driving along on a sunny day; the chill out mix for reading by the fire; the dramatic soundtracks for a walk in the mountains. Music triggers dopamine, dilates the pupils, increases blood flow – it’s like being in love. And that moment when the chord finally resolves (Beethoven is the best at this) is just so pleasing.
I’ll never forget driving through Norwegian tunnels for miles and miles while Hans Zimmer’s movie soundtracks added spooky accompaniment to the darkness. Or listening to a worship song while watching the waves crash. Or moving my shoulders because the rhythm of the pop song just won’t let me sit still.