I love music. Occasionally, it saved my life (Youtube: Shipwreck). I’m not that much into numbing my senses or changing my current mood. Instead, I prefer to further increase the intensity of what’s already there in my head, my current state of mind. It is a drug I never stop enjoying.
Even not listening to music for one week in a row is enough to fully restore the temporary sensation of that energizing rush any favorite song gives me. Interestingly enough, “rush” is often used to describe a state that makes you lose control to a certain extent. I’d like to point out that in this case, the rush yields the opposite. Instead of detaching myself from my environment, my senses in particular, it creates a fleeting moment of increased awareness, sharpening my perception and making me more susceptible to both the inside and outside world. There are a lot of songs in my library that are quite fast-paced and aggressive, at least for outsiders not being in my current state of mind. Listening to music for a long time made me discover and acknowledge my base heartbeat. It sounds a bit like a monster which tries to give a unicorn a cuddle, intense and reinvigorating. So far, I’ve been pretty lucky with my flatmates, being able to rock the place whenever I wanted to (Get Your Fight On and Colors). Also, knowing that other people are currently listening to the same song gives me a comforting feeling. It’s a way to express myself by fairly indirect means, since selecting a fameless piece of music being a very intimate act on its own (60 Miles An Hour and Pretty When You Cry). I think that a lot of pop, radio and club music is that popular because it puts up an umbrella of uniformity and anonymity, allowing everyone to blend in with some basic dance moves, good vibes and a certain fear of expression. A recent example for that phenomenon is Despacito. There are a lot of pushing and motivating summer-vibe feel-good songs out there, but this one appears neither calming, moving nor notably pleasant to me. It doesn’t hurt when being played in the background, but I feel that it tries to be lacking ambition intentionally, very similar to smoking weed (California Medication). However, literally slowing down doesn’t mean that something is supposed to be less intense or boring. In fact, enjoying a calm moment with or without good company is quite pleasant and intense (Mad World). Memorizing such a moment, I’d rather have a song resounding in my head which rings my own bells and those of a few other people at most. From then on, that kind of music is precious. For instance, I savor spontaneous jams, ideally around a campfire. There’s no recording, no judgement and no need for more than what’s already there: A pool of emotions, sufficient openness to share them and trust. It’s a hypnotizing shot of oxytocin that lasts (Hurt, a song about the hardships of life and a beautiful country voice). Speaking of oxytocin: A relatively safe way to let others participate in your enjoyment (besides probably having eggs thrown at you) is to drive a car, windows wide open, locally broadcasting your favorite tunes. There are some people who might complain but maybe just because they were afraid so far to just try it themselves or because they think that nobody else is to be bothered by their mood. I like being bothered a lot … and I like to bother!
On top of tying sounds to people, music is powerful enough to store memories of places in your head. I’m sure a lot of you remember songs that you first listened to during a vacation. Listening to those songs again immediately restores the place and emulates the feeling of being there once more. It’s the kind of nostalgia that brings back color to the map in your mind around a favorite moment in time. It’s just another home in your mind and you don’t need to rent a flat to experience once again what before made you adore Here and Now.
There’s a travel-biased phrase about memories: “Collect moments, not things.” I dearly despise that one, giving way to some amount of covert sarcasm. As soon as you start collecting something, you’re already exerting a sturdy grip on it. Things and (memories of) moments have a lot in common: They are not eternal and thus are subject to change permanently. As soon as you remember something, the corresponding memory is altered irreversibly. It’s fed into the loop once again, being contaminated (in neither a purely good nor bad way) by your current consciousness. The same applies to things: Touch them and they change. Leave them alone and they change as well. Things and memories are tightly intertwined. Remember anything? Dismembered instantly! Precisely because you got another think coming!
Rather than looking backwards, I like to embrace that volatility, building something new on top of what I remember. Music makes a truly marvelous catalyst for that process, refreshing those moments and shedding new colorful light on some long-forgotten instants. It sounds like ringing the bell of that apartment you never wanted to pay for because you sacrificed your personal time already, building a portable home … Never sounding trite and based solely on moving air.
The Search and Oxygen
At some point, my personal music library grew to a point where clustering became necessary. Mostly, those clusters are moods which get a semantic description as soon as I identified the mood. That involves listening to random music, adding any song that resonates. I don’t need names for those moods or categories right away but I’m very much able to instantly map a song to a category. To be fair, that’s not always unambiguous so I refrain from being perfectionist here. I never encountered a pure category besides total silence. Emotions are far from just black or white so scales do not apply obviously.
Unfortunately, a lot of those songs are not available on Spotify. For it’s excellent usability and sound quality, I still prefer using it during everyday listening sessions. Guess what I’m doing right now. For a musical taste of my mind, please refer to jghiletiuc@Spotify. Did or do you still use Pandora? I found it’s song recommendation hit rate to be amazing. Even having collected most of my favorite songs in a very random way, Pandora suggested about 30% of those songs just by feeding a few specific songs into the web app. Patterns are a truly interesting (meta-)entity.
At some point, my favorite color switched from blue to red: Blue to Red Dawn. I like colors in general though. What about you? Do you like “Despacito”? Are there any special places that you like to remember via music?
PS: There’s another very popular song at the moment. In contrast to Despacito, I like it: The Shape Of You. Maybe because it makes me slightly horny, which is always a plus. Or, to be less modest and less famous: Bounce
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