With the advent of recordings, suddenly vast libraries of music became accessible to everyone. As we drive our cars, prepare our meals, or go about our chores, even while we shop there can and often is music playing in the background. This causes music to be seen as a backdrop to our lives. This is wonderful in some ways as it brings sounds that are amazing into our lives that otherwise would be unknown. But it is at a cost. Recorded music becomes more ordinary, and listening to it is a recreational activity. It is the beat we work out with at the gym, it is the tunes that calm us when we are stressed in the midst of traffic. Its ever present potential and its presence in public places, makes it sometimes to ordinary. There is a value that is lost when it is always available. There is also an element of intimacy that is lost when one is no longer a witness to the performer in a live setting. In a similar way a great painting in a print in a book is far different than it is when we view it before our own eyes.
When music becomes so common, we are prone to simply listen to what we like and is familiar to us. The challenging sounds and tones that lead us into fear, or helps us to face uncomfortable realities is less likely to happen when we are choosing our music, or playing music in public places, or can simply press a button to change the channel. And when this element of music is lost, so, too, is a deep dimension of music that is meant for our well being.
I have been consciously not listening to the radio when I drive, or have it playing when I am doing things around the house. I have found myself singing more, and the quiet is more a part of my every day experience. When I did go to a concert the other night, of the DaPonte String Quartet, I found that the live experience was much more vibrant and the experience of the music much more powerful than it has been before when I would oftentimes have music playing in my life.
Just as we need to be more conscious in our eating, what we are eating, so also might it benefit us if we were more conscious to our listening and to the silences of our world. New sounds emerge, and more sensitive awarenesses arise.
|The DaPonte String Quartet performing for students at a local school|