Some of the best words that I have written over the last twenty years have been about music and yet music is not about words. Yes it’s true that some of the best songs ever written have lyrics which paint a picture that together with music makes their tunes memorable by capturing our imagination. Tugging at heart strings, elating our moods, evoking memories of a love found, or sucking us into a sense of loss when love has been betrayed, is all part of the gravitational pull of music.
Words are not needed to move the spirit though. Great music such as classical composers wrote, only used instrumental passages to move the spirit with rich orchestral tapestries or inspired solos as a means of telling their story. Fashion, snobbery and their own need to eat shaped the careers of the great composers. Kings and queens sponsored the great composers and commissioned music for their courts. Up to that point in history the mass enjoyment of music was just not possible. Music was only for the elite.
Until the gramophone was invented in 1877 and gradually evolved, musical performances were not captured for posterity. With these early recordings the music industry was born. Nobody could have foreseen the exponential growth and the increasing relevance of music in our lives. Personal music as in our headphones nowadays is a new drug and its audio quality is ever improving. The musical universe is only a fingertip away thanks to technology.
As we know there is music for all occasions, from praising the creator in worship or celebrating victories after wars, to epic cinematic soundtracks. Music is now truly universal in its scope and reach. The large scale music concerts which fill venues across the world are predictable phenomena of our times because there is a marketing strategy behind them and a demand for tickets. That takes nothing away from the ‘joy’ that concerts bring to millions worlwide.
The music industry is constantly evolving, mainly by bringing new artists and trends to our attention, thus creating a perceived need for us to see performers ‘live in concert.’ Few events can compare with the emotional, visual and audio gratification that attending a good concert can bring to the heart and soul, because in reality we also ‘feel’ music when we enjoy hearing it. A modern concert can transform those feelings into unforgettable memories.
Here in Gibraltar we are privileged to have enjoyed concerts by great artists of different genres and to a greater or lesser degree, have lived the ‘joy’ that only a good concert can bring. There is a sizeable bunch of regular concert goers in our community who frequently travel abroad to enjoy their favourite artists in concert and they enrich our community when they bring back and share their memories, which in turn whet our appetite for more concert experiences. This burning desire for music in concert will now have to take a back seat for a while longer.
This year a change is upon us. It’s still unfolding and unwelcome though it is, we have to ponder on the uncertain future ahead for humanity and to mention some more elements, the concert industry, the travel industry, the cruise industry and many other ‘joys’ that we always took for granted. The world was caught unawares by Covid 19 and unwelcome changes were forced upon us by those who have our best interests at heart. We are still winning but we also are still fighting it.
Yes it will all pass and things will hopefully find their own level in the ‘new normal’, but that won’t stop us missing what we had and what we have been used to as far as musical entertainment goes. In this era of binge watching Netflix series and using our smart phones as entertainment platforms, even the long established daily TV watching routine at home has been lost. Reading conventional books and overeating, along with decreased physical activity (as in lockdown), also became part of the ‘new normal’. This has been as unwelcome as having to wear those awful face masks now while trying to make ourselves understood behind their cotton fibres.
Our recent National Day was by necessity pared down to a whisker of its annual glory and thankfully we have been promised the biggest party ever for next year. I missed our Music Festival and the National Day concert too and no TV substitute was ever going to fill those gaps. We live in the fervent hope that all will be well sooner rather than later.
To our rescue and to help us in our day to day existence, our smart phones and other media platforms have become almost crutches, but they also give us back some of the ‘joy’ which we need to survive these dark times. If music be the spice of life shake that spice rack and bring it on…’Joyful, Joyful’ as in ‘Sister Act’ I say… and my advice as always is, breathe music because it’s cleaner than air and it’s food for the soul too. Till next time and remember to make happy listening a part of your new normal.