The Language of Music

Not normally the kind of blog post I make, but it is one of those moments too good not to share. Let me set the stage.

I am in my entertainment room, Sony Vaio on my lap, plugging away on a client web site design. As I often do, I have Rhapsody up and running. Over the past couple of weeks I've been listening to a new station here in Cleveland: "Tennessee 93.9, the best hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s." When I hear a song that brings back memories, I jot it down and then add it to my playlist later. Anyway, I recently heard an old Simon & Garfunkel song "Homeward Bound" and so I came home and started streaming S&Gs greatest hits from Rhapsody. My three-year old, Daci, walks in as "Sounds of Silence" plays. I'm humming and working and she looks at me, as serious as she can be and without having heard any lyrics yet, says, "That's a sad song. I don't like it." I inquired, "It's a sad song?" She then responded, with sadness and concern all over her face, "Yes. He has an owwy."

Wow. How perceptive. And how powerful and clear the language of music. Just look at the opening lyrics:
Hello, darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains, within the sound of silence
Now, it would take a PhD in literature to interpret this song's "deeper" meaning, but my toddler instinctively knew by the chords only, "that's a sad song."

A number of years ago, I worked with pastor and musician Danny Chambers to develop a small group Bible study called "Vertical Reality," which was all about music and worship. One of the lessons I developed was called "Strange Language," which explored this idea of music having it's own language. One of the points I made in this study is that the stuff that makes up our lives are like individual sounds of a song. When combined (looked at in the "big picture" view), they form a soundtrack of sorts, a "nonverbal language that tells others about the depth of our character and commitment to Christ" (Vertical Reality, pg 109, Strang Communications 2003).

I love all kinds of music. But as an analogy, when it's all said and done, I hope the soundtrack of my life is one of faith, hope and love, and not a "sad song" full of angst, crying out because no one is listening.
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About Eric Wilbanks

Brand strategist. Wordsmith. Change architect. Training specialist. DiSC Certified. Family guy (hot wife and 4 cool kids). Love my Bible, guitars, baseball, and MMA.


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