What is the BEST kind of music?
For over 30 years, I've been on a musical journey that has led me through a thousand different genres and over a million different tunes. But when I think of the most influential pieces of music I have ever heard, the list is short for a reason. The more I understand about music, the more finely I am able to analyze and critique every aspect of any particular piece of music. During my most informative years, I recall the songs that shaped my love of music, which were those we sang in Sunday School as a child. Being surrounded by Hymns, as well as being raised in a family that truly loved and appreciated great music, I constantly found myself searching out the best of music.
Bob Marley remained in the back of my mind as I continued my journey through so many styles and arrangements of music. I found my way through some of the worst of tunes and lyrics as well, in order to more fully appreciate and value the purity and wholesomeness of the best. And all along, I knew that there was something that the majority were seeming to miss somehow. How was it that the music and lyrics of Bob Marley's short and simple songs were able to cross generational gaps, bringing together people of all walks of life and all nations of the world? How was it that Louis Armstrong's performance of What A Wonderful World, became so infinitely timeless? What are the elements that caused some pieces of music to immediately be adopted by the whole world over? As I meander along, in this amazing musical journey of mine, I realize that the lyrics are just as important as the musical composition. However, there are those pieces that require no lyrical accompaniment, whatsoever.
When I find a piece of music that rises above the rest, I listen with my heart, to see if I can understand a little more of what the composer is trying to convey. And more often than not, I learn something. But every once in a great while, I hear a piece of music that transcends music altogether. The pieces that could never be fully described or explained, and therefore must only experienced, again and again.
There are two pieces of music that I want to share. These two pieces of music are two out of ten, beyond powerful compositions, that I would love to have played at my funeral, whenever that happens to be. The first piece that I chose is an instrumental piece by Vanessa Mae. It's an old Scottish poem/folk-song, that she beautifully made into a symphonic piece of emotionally rich music, with a delicate wave of her "wand". Vanessa Mae is one of my favorite musicians, because of the fluidity of her flawless performance, and also because of the way that she is truly able to speak through the music she plays. It's a phenomenal ability that she has, to make a piece of music come alive the way that she does, and always has been able to do. She truly has mastered her craft, and did this song justice, by bringing so many rich musical cultures into the re-creation of it.
When I first heard this piece, my whole body was wrapped in chills, as the world rhythm drum beats pounded so strong in my ears. I was literally brought to tears as the music poured through me. The Violin sang so rich and pure, as fluidly as a voice would, and seemed to never have need to take a breath. I knew during the first few seconds of this piece, that I wanted it to be played at funeral. I'm not exactly sure why that came to mind so quickly, but all I know is that I wanted everyone I ever knew, to feel as deeply for this song, as I just had. I wanted everyone to be able to experience it the way that I did, and to feel how powerfully it was speaking. It made me want to share it with everyone I had ever met, so I did. From that moment on, I would recommend it to everyone with whom I would speak about music, and most shared the same love for it, as I had and still do. This song remains one of my top 5 of all time, which is a pretty big deal for me, since I'm as picky as I am about my music.
Emotionally, this song provokes many volumes of feelings within me, and if I were to try to explain what it makes me feel, I don't think I would be able to do it. However, I will at least make an effort. This piece, as a visual presentation, and as a masterfully arranged and performed piece of audio-art, is capable of provoking thought on a universal level. I use the word universal, because it seems to transcend the limits of this globe when I listen to it. The world in which we live has so many cultures and so many different types and kinds of people, but this song reminds me that there is so much more to this thing we call "life". It reaches within, and tells us that there are volumes that can be spoken without words, and that beauty is one of the things through which we can all communicate with each other. This song shows me that "perfection" is attainable in this life, and that sometimes it is found within the intricacies of a simply poetic piece of Irish folklore. All it needed was a little polishing. Vanessa Mae truly connected me with the universe once again, through this piece of music, and because of it, I am now more fully able to make music in my own realm, as I reach into the hearts and mind of those who hear my creations, hoping I can allow others to feel, as I have been moved to feel.
The second piece that I chose is an original instrumental piece composed and performed by Andy McKee. When I first heard and saw this piece, I was completely captivated, and could not take my eyes off the screen. It grabbed my ears and my eyes, which is not common for me, as I am usually inclined to close my eyes while I observe music. Andy McKee has such an atmosphere of peace around him while he plays, and it seems to just flow from his fingertips. This is another piece of music that moved me to tears, as I was taken within myself, and reminded of the greater beauty and intricacy of something as simple as sound, vibration, talent or skill. This song spoke to me, as I'm sure it did to some of the millions upon millions who have viewed it on YoutTube, time and time again. It's the kind of song that grabs you from the beginning, and gives you reason after reason to keep watching and listening, and watching and listening. It is a masterful performance.
The feelings that are provoked with this piece of music are of exploration and discovery. They allow me to recall moments when I have made discoveries in my own life, and have been forever changed because of them. This piece of music, with its percussive qualities, dives into my subconscious, and burrows in, leaving an indelible impression upon my mind and heart. It doesn't even need words, and the calm and peaceful expressions on Andy's face are all the viewer needs to feel the rich emotion he wishes to convey through the creation and performance of this particular piece. Among other things, it reminds me that the universe has a rhythm, and that in one way or another, we are all tapped into that rhythm, functioning within a greater piece of music. I am more aware of sounds like the rain as it falls, having listened to this piece of music, as I truly feel that it puts me in finer tune with myself, with those around me, and with the rhythm of nature.
I will forever be sculpted by what I observe, and I will always seek the best of creations to let into my being, knowing how powerfully they are able to create, build, inspire and uplift; even right there, inside my very own musical soul. I love wholesome music; the best kind of music there is, and all the infinite power that it holds.
Mae, V. (July 2006). Vanessa Mae – I'm a Doun For Lack of Johnnie music video. Retrieved from YouTube.com
McKee, A. (November 2006). Andy McKee – Guitar – Drifting. Retrieved from YouTube.com / www.candyrat.com