catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 8, Num 7 :: 2009.03.27 — 2009.04.10


Music is mnemonic

As much as a drifting scent can conjure images of past abuses or victories, loves lost or perfect days, music is mnemonic.

Whether we love or hate a piece of music usually has no bearing on its intrinsic value. We love music because it makes us feel a certain way. We hate it for the same reason. Lyrics stir us to action. The intensity of the instruments expresses the discord in our souls. Or maybe we simply heard a song when we were with a loved one, and will forever think of that moment every time we hear the song.

Radio stations play Russian roulette with our emotions every day. At any time, a song could come on that resurrects a painful memory. Maybe this is why portable mp3 players are so prevalent now. We want to control the playlist, to control how we feel by allowing ourselves with only those songs that help us achieve a specific mood. However, we can’t help creating soundtracks to our lives completely by accident, made up of both songs we love and songs we hate.

A friend recently gave me his definitive mix album. It is made up of the songs that best represent his musical tastes. But it is more than that. What my friend gave me was a stained-glass window into his life experiences. This is why we relate well to people who share our musical preferences; we share bits of our soul.

And so we attend concerts, pay for albums and show our love for musicians not because of the music necessarily, but because as artists, they help us identify a piece of ourselves. We love them because they help us trap memorable moments in the amber of their music.

It doesn’t matter what the genre, because our love for music has little to do with style or instrumentation. It’s about the memories that resurface, the moods it puts us in, and the bits of our soul that we can positively identify.

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