My personal experience of the magical power of music

Khelsoril Wanbe *

 Shirock 2018 - As part of 2nd Shirui Lily Festival at Ukhrul :: 28th April 2018
Shirock 2018 at Ukhrul on 28th April 2018 :: Pix - Mobi Hijam

When we say music, it is almost as vast as the ocean as there are myriad brands of music. What is music for somebody could also be mere cacophony of loud noises for others. The taste of music definitely varies so widely and genres of music are being born incessantly. Weíve got Western, Indian, African, Korean, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Latin so on and so forth.

And again, when we especially talk about Western music, there are myriad kinds. Some are soothing, gentle and spiritually uplifting; some have sensual or sexual innuendos arousing romance and passion in the listenerís mind; some excite the mind to be aggressive, violent and fearless; and some are more concerned with morbid subjects of death, suffering and evil. The themes, rhythm and sound are integral parts of music that determine what particular kind of music it is.

In my early years, I started my foray into music world through radio. There were different music programs such as Western music, Hindi film songs, and songs in various local dialects. Western music proved to be somewhat enchanting and magnetising as I listened to its different varieties such as country, slow rock, pop, gospel, reggae, and sometimes hard rock.

Later on, I started listening music on stereo tapes, headphones and music decks with loud and heavy woofers. Then came the digital era that can still be played on heavy woofer speakers connected to computers or CD players.

I donít know much about other varieties of music that I have slightly mentioned except Western, Hindi and local dialect songs; but here I would just like to dwell more on Western music which has kept me company all along my life, not that it is superior to others.

BoneyM, Abba, Stevie Wonder, Kenny Rogers, Don Williams, Dan Seals belonged to the early batch of musicians that really mesmerised me and made me want to listen even more. The likes of Scorpions, Queen, Nazareth, Jon Bon Jovi, Europe, Boston, Ozzy Osbourne, CCR and many others followed. My music arsenal got expanded with the addition of many other artistes and bands.

Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Def Leppard, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Manowar, Motorhead, Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and others joined my music repository. They were all part of what I regarded as music, albeit some of them were really loud and heavy.

I would sometimes listen to them for hours together continuously for I had other friends too with me who were almost equally enthusiastic and mesmerised. We were not aware and did not care much about the themes of the lyrics; all that we relished were the speed, rhythm, loudness etc.

We were much awed by the vocal and instrumental prowess of the vocalists, lead/bass guitarists and the drummers. The fast and intricate notes and riffs the musicians can play with their extraordinarily dexterous fingers, hands, feet and vocal cords afforded us with much entertainment and delight. We would try to emulate and imitate them by practicing hard with our old bent guitars and incomplete set of drums.

We also strained and stretched hard our vocal cords to attain the high pitch of our favourite rock singers. In those days internet was not yet even dreamt of; we listened hard to catch the words in the lyrics.

Sometimes, we were lucky enough to find lyrics of some popular songs, which we would struggle to master in our own style. All we can remember is that we had great time listening and practising those old classic rock songs that seem to be fast fading away with the passage of time.

In the later years, I bumped into some write-ups on the themes and rhythms of rock music that ignited my interest to do a little bit of research into the lyrics of rock music. I came to learn something about the subjects that the rock musicians are more obsessed with.

Some of them sing about historical events like war and genocide, some sing about social issues, some sing about the abuse of drugs and sexual decadence, and some are more concerned with juvenile lifestyle. They find in the social happenings lot of materials to stuff into their lyrics. The rock musicians are sometimes accused of inciting and promoting social chaos, anarchy, violence and rebellion through their music and lyrics, which compelled them to come out in public to explain and clarify their motive in writing the outrageous lyrics.

People, particularly religious bodies, see them as churning out a lot of trash music that cater to the tastes and whims of rebellious youth, who are more inclined towards music that is loud, fast, chaotic and flamboyant. The musicians often try to defend themselves by claiming that they are merely trying to portray the realities of life through their music.

How far that is true is up to each individual to judge and decide. One thing we can see is that rock musicians are extremely dedicated to their music, which is characterised by complexity and intricacy. For years, they struggle hard to whet and perfect their musical skills and techniques before they gradually earn recognition, acceptability and popularity.

All other music genres have their own charm and beauty and rock music was one that held a dominating position in the music world for about half a century. The best of rock music seems to have been produced during the second half of the last century.

Hard, Heavy, Glam, Speed/Thrash, Death, Industrial Metals, Alternative rock etc had their roots in what was known as black music such as Jazz, blues and rock and roll. The advent of Alternative rock almost completely revolutionised and overhauled the rock music scene in the 1990s, and ever since, the popularity of rock music seems to have gradually declined with the waning popularity and fading into obscurity of the aging musicians; and many have even met their untimely deaths.

However, one can still not rule out the revival of rock music in some similar or different forms in the years to come. What is being witnessed presently is the emergence of some new bands that seem to closely resemble some of those highly popular rock bands of the bygone years.

Country music is another genre of western music that is comparatively milder, soothing, melancholic and sentimental. Johny Cash, Merle Haggard, Kenny Rogers, Don Williams, Dan Seals, Garth Brook, Ricky Skaggs, Dolly Parton, Marie Osmond, Emmylou Harris, and a host others bring to the ears and heart unforgettable melody and rhythm that seem to lull the soul and mind.

Songs of heartbreak, separation, childhood memories of country life are some of the themes of country music. Pop and Reggae music too are good in creating dance mood in their listeners. Madonna, Michael Jackson, Samantha Fox, George Michael, Wham, etc were some of the pioneers of Pop Music.

This brand of music incorporates elements from other genres too. Rap and Hip-hop music too became the favourite of the youth. These days, the youth seem to be more powerfully attracted to the dance beat of this brand of music.

Country, Western pop, Korean pop, rap/hip-hop seem to be ruling the roost of contemporary music world. Music, indeed, is an integral part of human life and it undoubtedly wields the power to play with the thoughts and emotions of a person. Apart from its entertaining aspect, music can also exert edifying effect on the listenerís mind.

Religious/devotional music can enhance the spirit of praise and worship of the Almighty. Music has a big role to play in enhancing the experience of worship services. Thus, there is the need to choose wholesome and edifying brand of music to experience a fuller life.

Some religious experts have even gone to the extent of suggesting that one has to be careful in choosing the kind of music that one listens as it can powerfully influence the thoughts, emotions and behaviour of its listener.

* Khelsoril Wanbe wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is from Thangmeiband Tarung
This article was webcasted on March 09, 2019.

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