What changed? Donald Trump came to power. That single happening has been so loud, so ugly, so divisive, that I need a break from the continual national noise. Sure, I could listen to pop music, which is loud and often has a mind-numbing beat. But there’s nothing soothing about it.
Classical music? Ahhhh. Classical music. It does soothe me. Why? Four reasons.
First, it has history. At a time when political rhetoric seems ready to blow up and destroy us all, the longevity of classical music is something. There’s comfort in the fact that this music has lived through wars and survived. Handel’s “Water Music” debuted in 1717; that’s more than 300 years and Lord knows how many wars ago!
Second, it is brilliant. More to the point, its composers are brilliant. Bach, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi? Mozart? Chopin, Brahms, Debussy? Schubert and Liszt? OMG, I could go on and on – and then there’s Beethoven, who was deaf when he composed some of his most famous works.
Third, I appreciate the chords, the tempo, the harmony – and the orchestra. Why? I used to play in an orchestra – well, “play,” in my totally amateur way. Okay, I took piano lessons for nine years growing up. But did you know I also played the flute? I used to march with my school band in our town’s annual Memorial Day Parade. I sometimes played piccolo, because John Phillip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” absolutely needs a piccolo. But for the school orchestra, it was flute all the way.
Another little secret: When my kids were toddlers and I sought an escape, I rented a violin. I was into my third lesson when I faced a choice – violin or fingernails. Fingernails won. But I do love the resonance of a violin well played, a deeper and soulful viola, a mellow cello, and I can hear these instruments when I listen to classical music. I can also hear main themes and variations on main themes, as I was taught in the music appreciation courses I took in college.
Fourth and finally, I can think while I listen to classical music. I review what I’ve written, and plot what I’m writing next. The lack of noise is conducive to thought. I’ve actually worked bits of classical music into my WIP, in which my protagonist’s 13-year-old daughter loves Ed Sheeran and Maroon 5 but also does appreciate these older works.
Classical music won’t solve our country’s problems, but at least it may cool some tempers. Well, only some.
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