When the music matches the lyrics

When I was a teenager I had a discussion with my father about languages.  We were talking about how many languages we had been exposed to.  Neither of us speak any language but English fluently, however, we know words and phrases in several, and I can get by with Canadian French.

Then I pointed out to my father that we did both speak another language – Music.  Even though my father is an extremely accomplished musician, he was unsure of my statement.

Music has rules and grammar, I explained. It has phrases. It has stress and emphasis.  Music can communicate thoughts, words, meanings.

I’m not sure how well I convinced him.

I was thinking about that conversation while I was driving yesterday, thinking about my poorly written post at the beginning of this week. My thoughts led me to create a new mental game to play while I listened to a rock music station.  (I’m in the car a lot, driving between the centres I support and doing the usual mom carpooling stuff. Back and forth on a major highway.)

My new game is to listen to the music without paying attention to the words, and to see what the music was telling me.  It’s too easy to play this game with classical music. Not as easy with the rock music, while it has words, because the words do subconsciously lead you.  But I did my best.

I identified songs about hope, solitude, and power.  Songs that were attention seeking.  Songs that communicated “lazy summer’s day,” and songs that wanted me to dance with joy.

It made me want to find the lyric-less versions of more songs to listen to, and then go back and see if the lyrics match the mood of the song.

It’s a fun game, and I like it. It makes me think that when the language of the music and the words match, that’s when a song becomes hugely popular – everything is in accord and subconsciously, we respond.

And it really brought home why I really don’t like Wayne Cochran‘s song and Pearl Jam‘s cover of “Last Kiss.”  The music and the words don’t match.  The music is too upbeat for the meaning and content of the lyrics.

What do you think? Should the music match the words? Can you hear the message of the music without the words?



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About Broot

Thoughts about learning and life that are lost in a sea of blogs.

4 responses to “When the music matches the lyrics”

  1. Michelle says :

    that is such a cool idea, I’m going to do it next time I’m in the car 🙂

  2. Broot says :

    Yay!! Let me know how you get on. 🙂

  3. Kat says :

    I’ve always thought exactly the same thing about this song since the first time I understood the words (it takes me a few listens before I can understand the words with any song)- I could never like it because its such an upbeat happy music, and such a horribly depressing words! Such a mis-match. Reading this post, this was the song that instantly popped into my head. I think Barenaked Ladies has a song like this too, happier music, horrible story in the words.
    SO I guess I do unconsciously play this game, but not on purpose, only because the first few times I hear a song, I don’t understand the words (its like the song is in a different language).

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