The connection you make with people VIA music is what matters.
I know the title of this post may appear to conflict with my recent post about taking music seriously, but in my head the two concepts go hand in hand.
The deal is this: I really don’t think music matters in a grand or cosmic sense, at least not music in itself. The RESULTS of music, however, are incredibly important. In my mind, the primary function (result) of music is connection with people. The emotional influence that music has on listeners, and the resulting connection that develops between a performer and an audience – this is what I am concerned with. Therefore I take playing music VERY seriously.
But… what I don’t take seriously is the music itself, or the idea that music is somehow sacred and important aside from its usefulness to connect with people. In my mind this concept is very similar to the whole “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it does it still make a sound” idea. My answer to that is “no,” at least with regard to the RESULTS and PURPOSES for sounds. I realize I am taking a very human-centric viewpoint here, but I will go out on a limb and say that sounds exist to be HEARD. If they are not heard then they do not matter.
I thought about this all night at the U2 show last weekend. That band has an incredible ability to connect with people. Whether it’s through a stereo via their albums, or in-person at their epic live shows… they always connect. They always make an impact. They always leave their audience so affected by their performance that they want to go out and DO something. “Emotional high” was a common description my friends’ Facebook status updates on the day following the show. Many people were so struck by the show that they couldn’t even describe what they were feeling.
This is fantastically interesting to me… the idea that what I do with an instrument can affect listeners so strongly that they can’t even fully process it. Knowing that music wields such a powerful sword makes me want to be very intentional with what I do. It makes me want to choose wisely what kinds of message the music I play sends, and it gives me a lot of drive to see that the performances that I give are effective.
U2 certainly did this last Saturday. I plan on digging into their music even further over these next few months in an effort to learn how they do it.