The Daily Chorus: 365 More Meditations on Music
Chapter 1: New Beginnings
Inspired by Ryan Holiday's book, 'The Daily Stoic', 'The Daily Chorus: 365 More Meditations on Music' is the second book in a third part series of dissecting quotes by famous people regarding music and their feelings about it, and then applying it to real-life experiences. Designed to read and reflect on one page at a time for an entire year, feel free to sit back and relax while improving your quality of life. Below are the first 10 days of the book as a teaser for you to get a sense of what the rest of the book will entail. Hope you enjoy!
“Notes and words strung together in excellence can raise us to our feet or push us to our knees.”
Isn’t that so true? When someone does something extraordinary, we tend to rejoice in a triumphant celebration by cheering, shouting words of encouragement, and literally jumping for joy. This can be applied to great orators, comedians, magicians, motivational speakers, actors, and authors, as well as musicians.
Similarly, when a musician or singer says or does something from the heart that is meaningful, with passion, and conviction, those words and notes, at the right moment, can humble us. They can make us think of how less-than-perfect we may be, and that is OK. No one is perfect, even though it is in our human nature to strive for perfection. They can grab ahold of us in a way that nothing else has been able to. We might think, ‘Wow, how did he/she know exactly how I have been feeling or currently feel?’ The words and notes make us feel like we are not alone. And, that is the truth. We are NOT alone.
“Music causes us to think eloquently.
―Ralph Waldo Emerson
Music does cause us to think eloquently. Let’s take the definition of the word eloquent into consideration (according to Oxford):
Fluent or persuasive in speaking or writing;
Clearly expressing or indicating something.
Think about your favorite song. Now, think about the thoughts that song elicits when you listen to it. Does it bring you back to a specific time in your life? Does it give you the goosebumps? Does it remind of a particular person? Does it do all of these things? Can you describe this time, this person, these physical manifestations? Chances are, your favorite song will answer some, if not all, of these questions with a resounding yes.
If this is the case, you are being eloquent.
“Sometimes music makes us want to dance, and sometimes it makes us want to smash the radio.”
Music has the ability to make us feel the complete range of emotions. From sadness to euphoria, angry to benevolent, and everything in between, it can bring out the ‘fun-loving, care-free, let loose’ side of ourselves as well as the demon inside. Depending on what is happening in our lives or what is happening in that specific moment, music can most certainly enhance that emotion. The hope is that it will find us in a welcoming, warm, positive, upbeat state rather than a leave-me-alone, cold, negative, and bitter one. There aren’t too many things in life that have such power over our being like music can. So, it may be in our best interest to listen with cautiously optimistic ears and minds.
“Christmas and music go together."
Contrary to yesterday’s quote, this one rings true as well. Christmas—the most wonderful time of year, according to Andy Williams and most of the world, is a time for thinking and being with loved ones, the joy of the birth of the Savor, Jesus Christ, the light amidst the darkness in winter, and much more. All of these things are inherently good…dare I say, inherently great. So, it’s only fitting that music would be thought of in such a way as going with it. If you were to flip on the radio, you would find most songs to be positive, motivational, inspirational, fun, and light. Now, that’s not to say all music is like that, because it isn’t. But, what is heard on the airwaves is considered to be the ‘cream of the crop' as far as songs go by various artists.
I believe it comes down to 2 simple questions:
Is music a celebratory thing? Most of the time…Yes.
Is Christmas a celebratory time? Without a doubt…Yes.
“Records are just moments of achievement. They’re like receipts for work done. Time goes on and people keep playing music.”
Being a musician, I can attest to the validity of this statement. When I finish a collection of songs that I’d like to put on a single album, recording those songs in all of their beauty is a huge sense of accomplishment. To be able to figure out what each and every song calls for instrument, melody, and lyric/vocal wise is no easy task. Some songs call for just a piano and one vocal track. Some call for all the bells and whistles of a full band plus an orchestral arrangement.
When all is said and done, it feels like you’ve put together the most difficult and beautiful puzzle. Listening to it for the first time from front to back puts me in a state of euphoria, and then looking at the final cover art as it’s packed in a nice digital booklet or physical CD sleeve brings it all together. It is as if the music tells me, ‘Well done’. And then, it’s on to the next one…
“You can also use inspirational music as encouragement. Pick a song you like that has motivational lyrics and listen to it each time you're working on your goal.”
What a great piece of advice and beautiful words of wisdom! Music can most certainly be there for us as a source of encouragement. When we’re working on something meaningful or menial, inspirational music and words can help us achieve that goal or complete that task with our heads held high. More often than not, the inspirational music and words help us get to the finish line quicker and with a deeper sense of meaning than if we did without them.
For instance, take a creative endeavor in writing a book. Some people work better in silence, but, I, for one, love putting on an upbeat, motivational instrumental soundtrack to help get the brainwaves firing on all cylinders quicker and with more meaning. On the other hand, take a less than ideal task like cleaning the dishes and put a positive, upbeat song on. I guarantee it will lift your spirits and help you complete that job quicker and with more joy.
“Music has always been my protection against the world, from a very young age. I feel safe inside of a jam.”
Music has the ability to do so many things! It speaks for us when words alone fail. It connects us to make us feel like we are not alone. It breaks down barriers. This last characteristic is interesting, because even though it breaks down barriers which allow us to connect with other people and the world around us, Trey talks about music being a protection and safety net from the world. The amazing thing is that he’s right. It does both! I’ve experienced this with certain songs and artists. Whenever I put on that special song or album, it can be a shield against the chaos of the world and everything it throws at me. It does make me feel safe as well.
Not too many things in life have a duality like that. In fact, music has more than just a duality. It has a multiplicity that is hard to deny.
“It’s hard to enjoy music at the same time you are paying attention to, and thinking about, the notes. When enjoying, you are simply letting the music in and absorbing it."
Dicken hit the nail on the head with this one. Like other areas in life, it’s best to not overthink things. When we overthink, we tend to create anxiety, stresses, and worries that may never come to fruition. With this, it can be paralyzing at times, freezing us in fear like a deer in headlights. It’s known as analysis paralysis. From a musician’s point of view, I have to say it is difficult to separate the enjoyment of music at times when you know what chords are supposed to be played or what a specific song should sound like. If it misses the mark or falls short, there is somewhat of a letdown because of it.
However, when we listen to music with the intention of pure enjoyment only, it fills us with hope, grace, faith, love, warmth, togetherness…all the good stuff of life.
This is where we want to spend our time—in pure enjoyment, not in over-analyzation.
“Music tells you about the artist and what they were thinking about at the time, because the person has to think about it to sing it.”
I love how Sean Paul encapsulates the idea of getting inside the psyche of a singer/songwriter/musician/artist. It is a keen observation of the various feelings, thoughts, and tendencies an artist goes through in the seasons of life. We all go through them, but it is quite a unique look into the mind and personal life of artists, and, in some cases, celebrities.
Being that the inspiration behind a song can be from something that happened many moons ago, just yesterday, or still happening, the range of time a song impacts a person can dramatically vary from one artist to another. And, then, if a song becomes popular enough, they are unofficially required to sing that song on repeat for the duration of their career. In some cases, this is a lifelong ‘sentence’. So, in essence, you are seeing what the person felt like before the song was written, as they’re dealing with it, and possibly, how they might wrestle with it in the future. You would be seeing the past, present, and future simultaneously…and that is a rare event.
“A true musician...plays music and uses particular instruments as tools to do so. I know that music is inside me and not inside the instrument. This understanding allows me to use any instrument, or no instrument at all, to play my music."
This is so true! At first glance, it might not make the most sense. But, after further investigation, is perfectly clear. We feel music—the beat in our chest, our heartbeat (the first and foremost rhythmic thing we hear, feel, and have inside of ourselves), the certain notes an orchestra, band, or soloist performs that strikes a chord within us. What Victor is saying is that all we have to do to draw music out of us is listen to our bodies and the world around us. Both are constantly providing us with sensory input, and we can use that to our advantage to compose and perform ‘music’, in traditional and non-traditional senses. We all have the ability to do this—it’s just a matter of being able to tap into it when the inspiration comes.
To purchase the full book, you can do so by going to: Book
To listen to the audiobook, you can do so by going here: Audiobook
Thank you for taking the time to read this small excerpt as I do appreciate it.
Have an awesome day!