Saturday, April 2, 2016

Music: My favorite art form

Art. A diverse range of visual, auditory or performing artifacts which express the artist’s imaginative or technical skill. Art is intended to express a message of beauty, power or elicit an emotional response. The oldest form of art is visual: sculptures and paintings. Art definitely is “in the eye of the beholder” which will speak, or not, differently to each person. One person may see a work of art as obscene or preserve while another will be emotionally moved. I’ve never really been interested in art before so I challenged myself to study a few pieces to find my pieces. As I studied the famous works by Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Da Vinci, and the thousands of other worthy artists and works, I didn’t feel moved as I thought I should be. As I lay in bed thinking about art, I realized that the only art form that really moved me has been music.

One of my favorite composers is Beethoven, especially Symphony No. 5 in C minor. The Fifth Symphony contains the ionic 4 notes which are probably the most recognized in music. “Ta-ta-ta-taa” the short, short, short, long notes are said to represent Fate knocking on the door. Another one my favorite Beethoven compositions is Fur Elise. The song was published in 1867, 40 years after Beethoven’s death and was found among his papers. According to the original manuscript the song was dated as April 27, 1810. The identity of “Elise” has been lost to time and remains a mystery, although there are many theories as to her identity, which I won’t discuss now. I love this song for its flowing melody which leads to a dramatic flourish and back again. It is as if the composer was in conflict. While researching the history on this song, I found an interesting “coincidence” in the first three notes. German organ scholar Johannes Quack noted that Elise is spelled out in notes E-L-I-E-E. Eis pronounced as “S” in German. I love the Beethoven loved this women, whoever she was, so much that not is her name in the title but her name is repeated throughout the song itself. It once again shows Beethoven’s genius.

I also love the melodies and lyrics of two modern musicals: the Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. The music of The Phantom of the Opera was written by British composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Charles Hart. It is hard to pinpoint my favorite song in this musical. I love them all. If I had to pick, I’d pick “The Music of the Night.” It is a very sensual song. Les Miserables is another great musical with music by Claude-Michel Schonberg and the English lyrics by Herbert Kretzner. One of my favorite songs is “On my Own,” which is sung by the character, Eponine. The song expresses her unrequited love for Marius and how she dreams of him by her side. I deeply identity with this song as I spent my night of my younger days dreaming of the future and my future love. I especially enjoy the climax of the song as Eponine realizes that her dreams isn’t reality: “And I know it’s only in my mind.” One of the most emotional songs is “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” sung by Marius. My favorite performer of this song is Michael Ball whose performance adds to the emotional impact of a survival’s guilt of why he lived and his friends did not: “There is a grief that can’t be spoken. There’s a pain goes on and on.” The unending questions and pain of surviving.

Even though a lot of today’s modern music doesn’t have the same emotional impact as the music I mentioned above; but there are some great songs that do. There are still great songwriters who are able to dig deep into their soul and expose an emotions. “Broken” by Lifehouse is such a song. The song was written in 2008 by lead singer, Jason Wade, after visiting a friend who needed a kidney transplant. I see the song as my relationship with Jesus. From the beginning to end, the lyrics are filled with the life struggles which can crush me and I’m still holding on to the promises of Christ. The chorus is very moving: “I’m falling apart/I’m barely breathing/With a broken heart that’s still beating/In the pain, there is healing/In your name, I find meaning/So I’m holdin’ on…I’m barely holdin’ on to you.” There are many comments online which would disagree with my interpretation. As this song can be interpreted in many different ways depending on the listener, which is why I love music so much. For me, this is how the song speaks to me and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I love how art can speak to different people. I love how a painting can bring out so many emotions in someone. Or for me, music. It amazes me that the artist can hear the notes or melody in his head and create a beautiful piece of music which can be enjoyed for decades. I wonder if Beethoven wondered if his music would last. I wonder what the composers would think to hear that their music is still being enjoyed and discussed centuries after they wrote it. Have you ever look at a painting, a sculpture or photograph and been emotionally moved? Have you ever heard a piece of music which lifted your soul? I hope you have because it is an amazing experience. Music can help us remember feelings and certain times in our lives when the music represented something great or helped us through a difficult situation. Music is a great way to experience our emotions, to release emotions and this is why music is my favorite art form.