Posted by John Ray Category: Writing

What to write about?  Very often when I sit down to write (which isn’t very often), I cant think of the right words to express my ideas.  It isn’t a problem with my ideas; it’s a problem finding the correct words and putting them in the right order.  After that, I have to worry about grammar and punctuation, and then I have to go back and delete all the y’alls and aint’s.  (Not really.)  In the end, I am left with something that is hopefully comprehensible and probably not a true expression of my original idea.

Music, however, is very different.  When I sit down to write music, I start with an emotion (the one I am feeling at the moment), and then develop that into a melody or groove that truly represents that emotion better than any words ever could.  The same emotion is provoked in the listener that I was feeling at the time of composition, or, as with improvised music, emotions are conveyed in the moment; everything happens instantaneously in the present.  This is true and complete expression.

Don’t think I am knocking written language.  I love to read, and I love to write just as much, but I cannot truly express myself with words. Words conjure different meanings for different people, and can be interpreted in as many ways as there are people who can read them.  A word is not a physical thing.  It exists only as an idea in the human mind.  One of the miracles of language is that there are so many people who have so many of the same ideas about so many of the same things, we can communicate with abstract sounds that have nothing to do with the things they represent.  This in itself should be regarded as a great human accomplishment, but not taken for granted.  Given the word “God,” for example, everyone in the world has a different meaning associated with it in their mind.  Therefore, if I say “God” to someone, they are not understanding my idea, they are substituting their own.  One person may associate that word with an old white man sitting on a throne in the clouds, while another may associate it with an expansive force that encompasses everything.  Those are such different things that the word is almost useless as a method to convey ideas.

Music, on the other hand, is very different.  (I am somewhat partial to music).   As a method of superficial communication, it is not as effective as language.  It would be much harder, if not impossible, to tell someone that you would like to order fries with your cheeseburger using only music as a method of communication.  That is where language is of greater value. Almost everyone who speaks English has the same idea about what a cheeseburger is, or at least close enough to place the order.  Where music becomes more effective is when an individual is trying to express less concrete ideas, like “sad” or “ecstatic”.  These words, when spoken, only give a very general idea about the true state of affairs.  However, if I were to pick up a guitar and play “sad” or “ecstatic”, I could convey these emotions even better than the word “cheeseburger” could convey the idea of the thing.  It is possible to actually bring forth the same emotions in another using music.

Music is true, perfect communication, and it has no barriers.  A musician can communicate the same thing in the same way to anyone in the world.  One cannot lie with music.  Music is truth, and played with true intentions, it is a force more powerful than any armies or governments.  Music played with love can and will change the world in a very concrete way.  People just need to listen.

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