Essay: The Importance of Instrumental Music

I have a challenge for you, readers.  Take just two minutes and ten seconds to listen to this song.  As you listen, write something creative–a story–just a SENTENCE–that captures what this song brings to your mind.

Was that hard to do?

There are many (and I think, very true) complaints about the lack of silence in the modern world.  We have constant sensation pushed upon us, and we need time to decompress, to evaluate, and to react.  This isn’t really news to an introvert like myself, but I was thinking about the musical equivalent.  Stay with me for a moment: songs with lyrics come with some meaning and authorial intention imbued.  Sure, there are many ways to interpret  songs, but many of the most commonly blasted ones have little critical use.  I love my trashy pop as much as anyone, but it’s better for filling the silence than allowing reflection.

Instrumental music, however, can aid reflection.  Pure silence is a wonderful thing, and I recommend taking time for it, too, but save some time for instrumentals.  When I was making my friends’ instrumental playlist, part of my motivation was simply making something appropriate to children.  But I realized there’s more value to it than that.  Instrumental music can foster creative thinking.

When I was a child, my family would listen to Classical music on long drives (particularly to my grandparents’ house).  I still think very fondly of this because it wasn’t used to fill the silence and shut us kids up.  Our car wasn’t some fragmented zone where we ignored each other then.  We all listened to the music, and as we listened, we formed an oral story.  A sudden clash?  Oh, a dragon just attacked.  Light, high notes?  Everyone’s happy.  There were no rules, no right or wrong answers, we just indulged in our creativity.

I still do this.  Any time I go to a concert for the band or orchestra, my mind wanders to the story being told, although not necessarily the one they’re trying to tell.  Sometimes there are giant robot battles.  Sometimes there are broken hearts.  Or, as in the song above, there is uncertainty and overcoming betrayal.

I hope you took the time to write something.  I hope you’ll listen to the song again and write even more.  Instrumental music can be an important part of reflection and expression.

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