I think we can all agree that instrumental music is severely underrated in today's culture. Downplayed, if you will ;) It seems that the minority is ever-shrinking that can actually enjoy a few minutes of music devoid of an electric guitar and catchy vocals. Not that I have anything against electric guitars. Or catchy vocals. I love both of those things. Especially catchy vocals. But I'm tired of our culture's peek-a-boo mindset. Verse chorus verse chorus bridge chorus chorus. 3 minutes, 47 seconds. The days of sitting for half an hour to listen to the latest Beethoven piece are long gone. The days of sitting for half an hour at all are long gone.
I love this age of CDs and MP3s and YouTube as much as the next guy, but think back to the time when the primary way you would hear a piece of music was live. You couldn't go home and buy Chopin's latest masterpiece on iTunes and listen to it 20 times. You heard it once, if you were in the right place at the right time. And so you valued every second of it. Every note, every change of tempo, every crescendo, every rest- the entire performance was greater than the sum of its parts; that performance was unique and special and intentional and you listened.
The same goes for public speaking. Men would speak for hours and hours, with sentences longer than some children's books, concepts and arguments that required a sharp, alert mind to comprehend. That men would speak for hours and hours does not surprise me... I have a dad, I've seen it done. But that men would listen for hours- that is noteworthy. That men would understand for hours- this is no small matter. And now? You can listen to what Obama said a couple of weeks ago right now on the internet. And it won't take 4 hours; you'll be done in 4 minutes, wishing you could take a 4 year vacation.
What I'm talking about is the devaluing of time, which leads to the devaluing of life. Look at our youth (and apparently 'youth' now extends into the late 30s) and their video games: your character gets shot in the head? Ok. Hit the spacebar and you're back in the game. Try again, they whisper subliminally. This is LIFE we're talking about! There is no "try again" in life. You do something, there are consequences. There is no rewind, there is no fast-forward, there is no pause, and there's only one stop. Here's my idea for a video game: it costs $79, the graphics are stunning, the storyline is exciting, the gameplay is responsive; but as soon as you get shot, the game crashes. When you try to open it back up, it says, "Sorry. Your character died. There's no more game left."
Back to instrumental music. My music is obviously instrumental. And so, by default, I get relegated to the background. Background music. Everybody hears me, but nobody's listening to me. My music is supposed to affect a deep emotional response, because it was deep emotion that inspired the music in the first place. This week, I challenge you to spend half an hour listening to some music. Don't do anything else during that time. Just listen. Doesn't have to be my music. Listen to some Chopin. He's nifty.