Think of every epic moment in the history of your life, and then take away the music. For most of us that thought is, frankly, unfathomable. A sonic snapshot holds so much more power for me than just about anything I’ve ever seen produced by a camera. Why? Because photographs, as lovely as they are to look at, oftentimes can only remind us of what was going on in our lives the moment they were taken — whereas one artist, one band, one song even, can bring on a flood of memories and emotions that spans an entire personal era.
How often do you find yourself driving in your car, walking around a department store, or sitting in the doctor’s office and suddenly you hear a song coming through the speakers that sparks a certain feeling or memory? Where were you and what were you doing when you first heard what has now become your favorite song or artist? What song always reminds you of your significant other, your children, or your parents? Which band did you love to “rock out” to when you were a kid driving around with your friends in your first car? If you’ve forgotten the answers to these questions then you can be certain that one day, when you least expect it, the music will remind you. When I hear Neil Diamond belt out “Coming to America,” I suddenly recall my mother taking me to my very first concert. Play me “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees, and I can see my dad jumping out of his chair in our living room and doing his best to rival Barry Gibb’s falsetto. Any song from Tori Amos’ first three albums will immediately transport me back to my high school and college years… for better or worse.
Someone with an apathetic view of music will question its relevancy in current everyday life and perhaps dismiss it as nothing more than a catalyst for nostalgia. But if you asked that person what their favorite movie was, and then told them to envision watching it without a soundtrack, I would be willing to wager that they would find it very difficult to do. What an interesting study that could be! Imagine that the Titanic is sinking, people are running around everywhere, fighting for their lives. Yet, there is no orchestra there to build the intensity. You hear the water, the loud clatter of rapidly moving feet, the cries of fear and sorrow; yet somehow it all seems hollow. Worse yet, Celine Dion is not going to reassure you through sweet serenade that Jack’s and Rose’s “Hearts Will Go On.”
Alright, perhaps I’m being a tiny bit facetious here, but you get my point. If the “Powers That Be” take it for granted that current and future generations are going to somehow figure out how to compose “on their own time,” then the quality of music as a whole will degrade and eventually become unrecognizable. As dramatic as it may sound, the soul of human culture as we know it will crumble and eventually be forgotten, leaving only a shadow of its former self.
As musicians, music educators and music advocates, it is our job to ensure that future generations also have an accompanist.
We’ll continue to bring you music and art advocacy information in the future. For information on how you can become an Arts Advocate, here are two sites to get started: www.artsactionfund.org and www.artsusa.org.