Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Music... more than meets the ear.

I have come to love music the way it deserves to be loved.

My taste in music had always been at least a generation behind the current craze. When people were already crazy over Westlife, I was still humming my favorite Britney Spears songs. When people had already gotten tired of N’Sync, I just started to get the hang of Backstreet Boys. And in the times when those OPMs escalated in popularity, I took a different route and explored my passion for Chinese love songs.

My highschool years marked the times wherein I attempted to address my anachronistic tendencies. I tried listening to music for the sole purpose of keeping myself updated on new trends and hit songs. I tuned in to MTV to watch the newest music videos. I religiously followed the Myx Hit Chart so that I would know which songs to download. But I quickly lost interest as it was something I had to force myself to do. For the longest time I continued to suffer in silence and cluelessness whenever the topic of music came up, or during times when everybody just had to sing along to some song I just heard for the first time.

As I matured through the years, I have realized that there has to be love and not mere infatuation between man and music. In this light, I have come to see music as something that transcends mere fads. The gigabytes upon gigabytes of tunes in my music folders would affirm that notion. I couldn’t care less if my playlists are not up-to-date nor popular. My kind of songs span a wide variety of musical genres and fit into any occasion in my life. This special assortment of songs in my music folder reflect the evolution of my musical preferences.

When I was a child, my father often played classical music so it was the first musical genre I liked. As I reached my preteen years, I started to have my own tastes and got immersed in, hate-to-admit-it, bubblegum pop. I fortunately outgrew this and went on to like boy-band and girl-band music. After that stage, the rush of hormones in my teenage years dictated my passions, and I got hooked to senti songs. Paraphrasing a quote from a friend, the sadness and longing sentimental love songs evoke actually make me feel more alive and human.

My musical horizons continue to expand. I am currently inclined towards alternative rock music, chinese songs, religious songs, and instrumental movie themes. I have developed my own standards to assess which songs are nice and which are not. In most cases, I am now able to relate whenever the topic of music comes up.

I have come to love music the way it deserves to be loved. Music truly more than meets the ear. Looking back, it certainly seems that each period of my life has been colored by a particular song or musical genre. There seems to have a soundtrack for every significant experience in my life. When I listen today to my old songs, I can’t help but have an “ecsta-nostalgic” (combination of ecstatic and nostalgic) ache in my heart.

To narrate a few instances, whenever ”In the End” by Linkin Park blares from my speakers, I float away from my computer back to that carefree summer in Beijing, once again eating cup noodles while having boisterous conversations and sharing magic tricks with tour-mates. It was as if time never passed. Whenever “If we hold on together” plays, I get to relive that magical moment in our senior year recollection, wherein our class as one big circle sings the song teary-eyed while passing roses and hugs to each other. Oh how bittersweet a feeling that is - bitter because I would never be able to truly live it again, yet sweet because I could always relive the magic through that song.

Songs in these instances cease to become mere expressions of emotion. The lyrics and even the melody are shed, and the soul of the song comes out. Music at the level of the soul immortalizes life’s best moments. As these euphoric moments die down and we fall back to our mundane lives, only music can serve as escape vehicles back to our happiest memories. In invoking our fondest stories these songs serve the highest purpose of all, as the bookmarks of life.

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