Friday, 1 November 2013

Why I listen to songs in languages I don't know.

I was watching this video that got me interested in time lapse. It's called "Why I shoot lights at night" in which the photographer and video maker Toby Lockerbie, and I've seen this many times but the video never manages to loose its magic. Thus the name for this post.
                                                              Why I shoot lights at night

I've been bothered with this question for quite a while now "What is the difference between a song and music?", So i thought about it and concluded with this answer. A song is something that we can comprehend, It is intended to have a particular meaning that the singer wants to convey, and also obviously it uses language. Whereas music has many meanings, though it has a general theme it doesn't have a definite meaning.

So, can a song be music?
Well the short answer is yes.

Not a day goes by for me without listening to some music, and yes music, I don't really listen to the song I may have listened to the song a hundred times and can't even recite the chorus properly. I'm not saying I don't listen to the song but I'd call the vocals to be just another instrument, a piece of the jigsaw we call a song. It is often said music has healing effects on the soul, very deep topics which we are not going to discuss here but lets just say I believe them. It's funny why we like music, from a scientific point of view music is nothing but a set of resonating frequencies. So, why is it that our brain appreciates those particular frequencies. What is it about them that has the ability to control our emotions? We all are  aware of the slow paced music played in restaurants, and the pumping music in clubs. What is there about music that it is capable of influencing everybody in such a similar way. Maybe this is the worlds language. You don't need words, you can just listen to the music being played and have an idea of what is going on in that particular place.So we all can agree music is something magical.

Now let's get to the question in hand. Have you ever gone someplace where you don't understand the local language. But you listen to the local music and are able to enjoy it just as much as the locals, how about sing-alongs? there in no backing music but you are still capable of enjoying it. Hasn't the song just become music, at least with respect to my definition of them.

I like to imagine a lot and most of the things I imagine while listening to music are beautiful. Now whenever I listen to a french song, a Korean song, or even a song sung in Tamil. I don't know what the song is about, my mind takes off with a horde of emotions wondering what the singer is singing about, maybe the most magical place on earth. I remember the scene from The Shawshank redemption when Andy plays the record in the warden's office and Red("Morgan Freeman") narrates how it feels
" I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don't want to know. Some things are better left unsaid. I'd like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can't expressed in words, and it makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a grey place dares to dream. It was as if some beautiful bird had flapped into our drab little cage and made these walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.  --Red "

The feeling of not knowing what the singer is singing about is amazing because then at that point of time while you are listening to the song the singer is singing whatever you want to hear, and that for me is better than any lyrics in the world. Whenever I listen to Yann Tiersen's "L'echec" and "L'effondrement" it's the mood that carries over and you feel exactly what the singer intended you to feel.

Also when  you listen to somebody sing along a song where the original is a composition which did not have any vocals and somehow the vocal aspect makes the original song even better, almost as if the music was written for the song. These two pieces of music were piano compositions where the vocal versions came after the music came out Ludovico Einaudi's "Nuvole Bianche" and Yiruma's "River flows in you".

I'm hoping you've heard the music and love it. So, let's get back to our question, Yes songs can be music and sometimes songs can make the music better. When you hear a song where the singer is singing what you imagine the song is about, that's when the song becomes amazing music, and that is why I listen to songs in languages i don't know.