A couple of weeks ago I was at a music gig (Bali Spirit Festival to be exact) with a friend of mine… Said friend of mine is not a ‘musical person’, she doesn’t play an instrument and she’s never performed in a musical context as far as I know… As the musicians took to the stage she uttered something interesting… ‘And to think I was just talking to them yesterday‘ she said. ‘What do you mean?‘ I asked ‘They’re still the same people.‘ ‘Oh no,’ she said ‘they’re performers now.‘ Part of me scoffed at the idea – I’ve spent enough time around musicians and performers/managing and looking after them/being one of them to be a tad jaded and cynical. Most of the time when I look at a stage I’m thinking things that your average audience member isn’t. Things like ‘Holy shit that’s a massive set-up, how the hell are they going to manage a 15 min change over.’ or ‘Dodgy form and your harmonies are flat’ or ‘ It’s just a bunch of musicians on stage, where’s the stage presence people?’ or ‘Why do I only have 5 performers on stage?! Where the freaking hell is number 6?!” To say I’m not easily impressed is putting it mildly. But my friend’s comment and the sentiment behind it stayed with me and I tweaked my perspective a little more and shook off a little of my cynical baggage.
The next night of the festival I watched with stage-mum pride as ‘my’ bands performed ( I was an artist liaison for the festival), I let myself be swept up in the swirling, excited vortex of energy that consumed the crowd and I watched as a strange and magical thing happened… my friends, these people on stage, these musicians who, moments before, had been caught up in the mundane practicalities of pre-performance… these people, for the length of a song, the length of a set, transcended themselves. They became greater than the sum of their parts and, in being conduits for the highest expression of their bliss in that moment, became shining conduits of the Divine… For is that not what the Divine is? The highest expression of our bliss in that moment?
And let us take a step even beyond musicians and the act of performance… let us step into the profundity and transcendental nature of music itself.
I believe no other form of artistic expression has the capacity to sear itself into our souls as music does. If music is an ‘expression of emotion’ then the only way we can truly experience it as it was intended it is to bypass our systems of logic and rational and sit in the realm of pure experience.In the presence of great music we are forced into a different level of being. When we truly imbibe good, heartfelt, soulful music, it writes itself onto the fabric of our lives with indelible ink… You know what I mean – we all have ‘our songs’… music that becomes the score to the most profound moments and seasons of our lives… Through music we are given an opportunity to commune with something greater… How often have you been shaken by a piece of music that felt like it came straight from the unseen, directly to and for you? How often have you let a piece of music heal you? And do you hold dear those moments when music reaches across the limits of time and space and connects you to something greater?
“If music be the food of love, play on.’ -Shakespeare