Thursday, January 15, 2009

Music & Love: Create? Manipulate? Participate?

Oh Brother Andy, what have you done? I told everybody I wouldn’t make a habit of talking about this stuff, but it seems the floodgates are open now.

What is the origin of Love?

Music Explains Love (I think)

My senior year in college, I decided to take “Introduction to Music” as an elective. Now those of you who know my background and how much I love music might find that odd…it was supposed to be a cakewalk class. Much to the contrary, I found myself digging into many deeper meanings of music and life because of this class. The most difficult internal debate I engaged was this: What is the origin of Music?

I’ve been making music since when my mom caught me whistling Axel F on the toilet when I was three. I’m a classically trained upright bassist, play guitar, a few other instruments and sing as well. I played in orchestra, band, jazz band, wind ensemble, marching band and a few of my own bands. Forgive what seems like boasting. I only put these cards on the table to illustrate how odd it is that I’d never thought to inquire as to the origins of something that has been such a huge part of my life and still is. To confuse this even more, I had also just begun to write my own music.

Can I actually “create” Music?
Can I actually “manipulate” Music? Or,
Do I merely get to “participate” in Music?

I’ll spare you the ping pong deliberations of my brain, and the semantics I fought through with a machete. Suffice it to say it wasn’t exactly cut & dry, but I’ll just skip to the point.

I concluded that we merely get to participate in Music. All the songs I’ve written just sort of came out. I often listen to the melodies that I’ve “composed” and wonder where they possibly could have come from.

I liken music-writing to this: The mood strikes me, and all of a sudden I’m walking into a melody store, the front of which looks a lot like the record store from “High Fidelity.” It looks tiny from the outside, but is vast, perhaps endless on the inside. Somehow, my feet know exactly where to go…a section meant just for me. I spend some time checking out different melodies until I come across one that actually makes my soul sing back. (It’s kind of like when you find the pitch that resonates perfectly in a big, tiled bathroom). My soul makes the decision for me and I take it to the cashier who’s an amiable guy w/ dreadlocks & a soul patch. He just smiles at me and says, “It’s on the house as usual, brother – see you next time!”

I’ve compared this to the involuntary vomiting of a song…though you may also remember that I don’t really believe in involuntary vomiting. 8)

What I have then is a musical representation (like a musical photograph) of just a little piece of my soul…what a precious gift. How could I ever take credit for that?

Back to Love

Is Love not the same way?

Participate: Love is a gift beyond logical explanation. It’s a supernatural phenomenon that’s out there for us to discover, experience, and ultimately enjoy – a precious gift that FAR exceeds even our wildest imagination.

Create: As the Bonnie Raitt song says, “I can’t make you love me, if you don’t.” (written by Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin). We can’t create love. We can come up with any recipe that we want, but it’ll never be able to take the place of the perfection that is love. Why on earth would we turn our noses at a free and perfect gift in search of manufacturing it on our own “filthy rag” version? We are silly, stubborn creatures, aren’t we?

Manipulate: I’ve alluded to the dangers of manipulation before. Manipulate Love? Talk about trying to harness the power of the Sun with your bare hands…its simply asinine. You can, however, manipulate people. I must say I feel badly for those whose relationships are built on some sort of manipulation. Both sides end up drowning in insecurity wondering all the while what is true and what isn’t.

Playing With Fire

Manipulating a person actually twists them into somebody they’re not. When you manipulate someone, it’s like taking Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” removing the texture and making it into a black and white postcard. They become like the animals in Narnia who can’t talk anymore. You’ve taken a flute and made it sound like banging a spoon on a table. They’ve been assimilated to your myopic imagination and confined to a cage. Gosh, it’s beginning to look like slavery. Congratulations, you are now dating, or worse, married to the walking dead…and YOU killed them. What an atrocity. I’m thinking bad words about you in my head right now, malicious manipulator. I wish I could say my hands were clean of this. They’re not. If I’d had any idea of what I was really doing at the time…quite sadly our stepping-stones come at others’ expense sometimes…it’s part of what makes us NEVER want to screw it up again.

Isn’t it so much better to let the other’s light shine? Let them be who they are. Let their song ring loud & true. The worst that can happen is that their song doesn’t prove harmonious with yours. I imagine when it actually does, the whole orchestra and chorus joins in behind you.

Those who find Love on Love’s schedule don’t have to rely on disillusionment. Experiencing Love on Loves terms is an exciting adventure through uncharted territories. There is so much amazing and colorful scenery along the way that you can’t ever fully take it in. Manufacturing “love” and manipulating it is just another trip through the quagmires, trapped in the confines of our own mind. As with all things, life is too short to spend it bound by our own skepticism and our limited capacities. I’d much rather be surprised by the endless possibilities God’s world has in store for us.

I think I might dig into why we attempt to manipulate tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. "the whole orchestra and chorus joins in behind you". I just pictured Handel's Messiah. Beautiful. Great analogy.