Music and Life

To break out of my long hiatus, I’d like to upload a piece of work that one my friends have written and asked to upload here. I personally find it a very beautiful piece of work and am very very honoured to have it first put here.

I’d just like to take this opportunity to enter him, Broomstick, to our writers alongside myself and the translator, Tiffany.

ps: I also quite like his little nudge at me in it….

Music and life:

Talk to anyone who is dedicated to music, and they will often tell you that music is their life, or part of their life. Now, being an everyday student musician living in Hong Kong, I can definitely vouch for the importance of learning music in our society, how essential it is for us to spend endless hours practicing and perfecting our music and push the limits for higher marks on ABRSM music exams in our respective instruments. Therefore, it is possible to say that we have integrated music into our daily lives, and essentially, music IS our life.

However, as I prepare to start my life as a university student abroad, I can’t help but reflect upon my old life as a high school student, and realise that the generic phrase of “music being life” epitomizes not only the amount of time we spend on music, but also or experience of life itself.

“Life is full of ups and downs” is a common phrase that resonates through society, and it’s applicable to most people. I myself have always firmly believed in it and also experienced this throughout high school life. The variation in friendship groups , the making of new connections with people in later years that one would have never imagined to become close to or successes in academics are what one may consider the “ups” in life. However, nobody is perfect, and people will also lose friends, make bad decisions, leading up to stress, problems and what not. In short, life is a mixed bag of experiences.

You may ask, how is this relevant to music? Well, whilst reflecting on the ups and downs in my life, I couldn’t help but summarise life so far with Beethoven’s Symphony No.6. Being a former IGCSE music student(and I’m sure my fellow classmates would agree), the symphony comprises of different movements that are all unique in themselves, from the cheerful, upbeat Mvt. 3, “Merry gathering of the country folks” to the stern, frightening atmosphere in Mvt. 4, “the storm”. Despite being consecutive movements, the sudden contrast in the themes of the movements can connote the drastic changes we may face in life. The two movements in combination, therefore acts as a representation of life, comprising of both joyful, ecstatic moments, with a mix of fear, oblivion, and pressure.

However, this is just one way of seeing the connection; Try imagining a symphony with a number of movements, but all sounding almost identical to the next; Ultimately, this hypothetical symphony becomes dull and boring. The importance of having different themes in movements within a symphony becomes evident, as it is the variation in themes that makes a symphony interesting. Therefore, there must be a reason for variation. In the same way, we have a need to experience both good times and bad times, as having a variety of both good and bad experiences allows us to reflect and learn from our past.

People learn a lot from their bad experiences, but not only do they learn to improve and approach similar situations from a different perspective next time, they also learn more about the friends they’ve made. Friends are very important to one’s life, as they are the people that will support you in all times. Just like the chinese saying “在家靠父母,出外靠朋友(At home, you rely on your parents. Away from home, you rely on your friends”), the role of friends in life is to make your life a more fruitful and rewarding experience. Likewise, a piece of music wouldn’t be engaging to the listener without the proper dynamic markings, grace notes or tempo marks within the piece. Having said this, a song with an excess of the additions may make the song ever more confusing and complicated, defeating the point of the song as a whole. It’s always great to have a lot of friends, as connections are also key in society, but one may question who may still be there to support you when you’re in your lowest. It is these darkest moments in one’s life, where you realise and cherish the true friends who are there to direct you out, whether it’s to listen to your problems, or just to distract you from them. Sometimes, the people that accompany you in your darkest, most problematic moments may surprise you!

Music and life share one thing in common: both depend on what the person considers ‘good’ to be. The term ‘good’ itself is arbitrary; it can be replaced with any word that represents what we consider to be our ultimate goal in life. It could be Success, Fame or Fortune. Every person has their own perception of their life, and this shouldn’t be restricted by society. When I was a Music student, one of the sections required us to do some composition, and there was always a large variation of pieces, each portraying what the composer considers a perfect piece. I had a friend who composed music, which to me, sounded somewhat eccentric, but perhaps that’s what he considers ‘good’ to be. Similarly, what we perceive to be good may be different to others. For instance, being in HK, a good life may be a big house, with a lot of money, cars, good schools etc etc. On the contrary, a good life in Cambodia may just be a happy family with a roof and food to survive. Essentially, it is how we perceive life as a whole, given the circumstances we are in; If the circumstances are not going to change for the time being, there are only two ways to look at the situation: Live life and make the best out of the situation, or loathe everyday about the situation. For me, I’d choose the former!

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you do not aim high and improve the circumstances. Situations change and it is crucial for us to have the motivation to improve our lives and live it to the fullest. There are people who have started from the bottom of life, and worked hard to be where they are today, and for sure, they have had their share of tough times. we should learn to variate our life, and explore alternatives. Compare it to all the variations a piece may have. Often, there are alternatives to the theme of the piece, which follows the general theme, but uses different notes, accents, dynamics to convey the same idea; Correspondingly, given that you have a certain amount of time to live, you might as well make life worthwhile and live with minimal regrets.

Just like how one may choose to perceive life, one can also choose how they do perceive the phrase ‘Music is life’. In the end, you may still believe that the phrase denotes the time and effort put into music, but I do hope that after reading this, you may gain an extra perception of what the expression means!












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