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?