All posts tagged Music

Music Fights and Unites

Published June 23, 2015 by Jess Arwen

An artform. A science. A way of life.

This, all this and more, is music. These words don’t define music; rather, music defines these words.

Wherever we come from, and wherever we’re going, we can all agree that music impacts our lives in some way. It provides the backdrop for movies and television, and our thoughts, studies, and work. It keeps us company during our commuting hours, and lets us be alone with ourselves.

Music cheers with us, pumping us up even more when something exciting comes our way. Music holds us when the worst comes into our lives.

Music understands us more than people do sometimes, and it isn’t rare to hear that it saved someone’s life.

A good friend of mine once told me that to sing is to breathe, arc, feel tension build and release it, is to become one with the music, since the body is the instrument of sound. Singing is as old as humanity itself, and I have to believe that this is a gift.

Whether you believe in an intelligent Creator or not, we as the human race, are gifted with song. No matter how foreign the song, it means something to us as people.

Music unites us, for it shows us our own humanity, in the same way as literature, poetry, war, faith, and love do. Yet it also tears apart for this raw display of identity. War hurts. The truth hurts. When music shows us how ugly we’ve become, we argue over it. Some argue that it isn’t truthful enough.

When we fight wars, it’s because we fight for what we believe in, which may not be the truth. Does music show us the truth?

Music shows us a truth, and because there are so many truths out there, we fight. When we’re sad, it shows us the truth that we’re not alone. It weeps with us, telling us that whoever wrote the song feels the same way. The music empathizes with us and begs to be created.

When we love, the music spirals around in our souls, creating itself in us and fleeing before we have the chance to perform it. Yet sometimes, we catch it. Some are better at catching these fleeting butterflies than others, and maybe we fight because we’re jealous.

Music itself isn’t always peaceful. We don’t fight merely over who saw which truth in which song. No, the music stirs us to fight. With its battle marches and noble truths, we believe ourselves so very right, and we follow its lead into the field where we fight.

With blood-thirsty sounds and screeches of metal and glass on living strings, our souls cry out in agony for the right to fight. Music makes us fighters, and that isn’t a horrible thing. If our sole weapons could be the music, if we could use our intellect fully to understand each other the way we all innately understand each other, we wouldn’t have to fight.

That’s just it. We don’t have to fight, but we fight for that right. We wouldn’t be human if we weren’t fighters. When we’re not battling each other, we battle disease, heartache, and the perils of living. Living is not for the weak.

Music spurs us on to fight, to fight for our right to be here on this battlefield of life, so we fight. We’ll fight everyone and everything because we are here to fight.

Music shows us a truth, reveals ourselves to us in our alone time, inspires us, helps us do better, teaches us, empathizes with us. Music is a form of art, of science, of magic.

Music is a part of us. It is that fighter in each of us, coming out and shouting to the world to do better, to keep fighting, for we all fight on this field together, so keep going, cries the music, our music, us.


I Finally Recorded Something!

Published July 12, 2014 by Jess Arwen

I’ve had this blog for quite a while now, and I know for certain that I’ve discussed my love of music more than anything else on here, so it’s high time I shared something I’ve played with you all! Since this was my first time recording, it’s not the best quality, so please forgive the background noise. Also, I got a little excited at the end there to turn off the recorder, but overall I think it’s a fair first recording!

This is I giorni by Ludovico Einaudi. The title translated is “The Days,” which always remains relatable. I always picture the seasons passing when I hear or play it, and I frequently play it for the incoming freshman classes at my school, for they will be embarking on their journey of college life.

Anywhos, I hope you guys enjoy it! It’s one of my favourites!

Performing: A Tale

Published February 7, 2014 by Jess Arwen

The anxiety, the sweat due to stress that collects under both arms– how can I go out there? Did I practice enough? No, I couldn’t have practiced enough, but the people are already here, so I must face them.

No, it’s not about the musicality; it’s about proving that I am a musician. What happened to the willingness to perform simply to tell a tale, to share how much I love music with others?

To be a performing musician of any kind means to confront anxiety over messing up and being good enough for the people in front of you. When I first started out, it might have actually been easier. God simply blessed me with a raw and naive love for music. It transformed my life.

When there were no friends there for me, there was always music.

Yet now it seems that music has changed somehow. It became an occupation. It grew heavy, and I didn’t want to carry such a burden any longer.

What could I do? Once your this close to completing a major, you can’t simply give it up. But what if music truly isn’t what I should do with my life? What if I don’t love it anymore? Could I stop loving music with all my heart?

Such questions almost destroyed me, but through the second part of a semester, in which I had to perform a lot, I learned that I love music. Performing forced me to get out of my head and focus on those around me. When music stopped being about just me, it became something beautiful. Music is a shared experience.

I perform because I want to share a love so amazing that it can’t help but simply spill out of me. How could I have forgotten this?

A New Perspective on Life

Published February 2, 2014 by Jess Arwen

Ah, a new theme makes this old blog feel so fresh and exciting! It marks a turning point in my life.

Being a double major with a minor is tough work, and lately, I’ve been feeling extremely burnt out. I even considered taking a semester off and working some minimum wage job, just to find myself again, but my scholarships would not allow that. Thus, I continued on with my education, treading closer and closer to those graduation steps and wondering why it was I am even trying to get a diploma.

Last week, due to snowy weather, there was ice everywhere on campus, and I slipped at the top of some brick steps and fell the ten steps down to the sidewalk.

It was literally the scariest moment of my life.

My life flashed before my eyes and everything, and I apparently gave myself a concussion. This was a pretty bad concussion, because I was down and out of class for a few days due to migraine-like symptoms. When I did go back, my head hurt, and loud noises would give me blinding pain, so singing again caused me physical pain. I could not go to piano lessons or jazz band at all because of the sound-levels of both places.

It was a rough week.

The doctors told me that the best thing for me to do was to sit and/or sleep in a dark room until my head felt better, not thinking, not doing homework, definitely not making noises. This time of meditation and forced hiatus from music made me realize that music truly is my passion. All the extra stuff I’m doing is simply getting in the way, for music is mine. I now know what things I want to drop next year, because I’m currently employed too many places for it to be healthy.

I meant this to be some poignant and well-thought-out piece, but I think I’ll leave it as is. I just want to be a musician, and something as horrible as this concussion experience showed me how true life can be.

Here’s to the passion in each of us!

Does Music Unite or Tear Apart?

Published November 13, 2013 by Jess Arwen

This is a question that somehow followed me from class to class today. Luckily, it was my music day: music core, two choirs, jazz ensemble, and my a cappella group.

In each group, the topic arose that music isn’t actually as even we music scholars view it. No, all those happy memes and propaganda schemes of how music is a universal language may be wrong. Granted, music does inspire and unite in the sense of even poor countries have music, and some living in poverty craft musical instruments from garbage, but throughout history, music has been intimately involved in politics.

Even in the church, a supposed place of union and fellowship, there is a divide. Many churches now separate into separate services in which nothing changes, save the music: in one, members worship through the traditional hymns with organ, but in the other, members rock out to contemporary music (usually more suited to the younger generations).

During times of war, music is purposed to inspire soldiers to fight against the opposition, and in some countries, you are arrested if you possess controversial types of music. For example, Russia forbids American music, as it encourages free thinking.

This would be an interesting thesis or research project, but for now, I must mull it over. I always thought music was the universal language, but I may be wrong.

It’s also hard to think of it that way when even Japan slowly becomes part of the Jazz tradition, which stemmed of the slave tradition in America. This is America’s voice! And yet, Japan can share it with us. Perhaps they do not fully understand the long history to this point behind the tradition, but even I can’t do that! I wasn’t there!

To be honest, I don’t know what to think regarding this. Thoughts?

What You’ve Got to Say, and Some Sweet Tunes

Published August 18, 2013 by Jess Arwen

Tonight’s the night to tell a tale. My heart is full (thanks to good music and excitement for the upcoming school year), and rain beats out its sweet rhythm on my window. It’s a night of new beginnings, and thus a celebration of what the Past carried to the Present.

I mentioned once or twice before that I have only played piano a couple years to this point. As I approach my second year of undergraduate study as a Music major (and now an English double-major!), perhaps it’s time to share my story.

Yes, I study piano at school, but I decided to take voice lessons for fun. Well, I didn’t do it just for fun- I thought it’s be a good idea since I ended up directing the newest a cappella choir on campus, which is a funny story really, and I’ll write about it one day. Anyways, my voice teacher one day told me how she’s always wanted to write a book about what it means to make music. She titled it “What You’ve Got to Say” and explained that every time we make a sound, we communicate something from deep within us, that melody or rhythm that keeps our lives moving forward and not back.

Every day that I’m alive, I realize how much more alike we humans are, and I see that somewhere in all of us is a listener, is someone eager to hear the stories of others. There was a quote one of my high school teachers said about reading: “I read to know I’m not alone.” While I can’t find who said that, I know it’s true not only of reading but of any art form in the least.

For me, music combines that distant and abstract form of visual art and sound and silence, themselves, with the poetry that outlines history through human interactions.

It’s poetry.

And it’s beautiful.

And if you want to go back to ancient Greece, you’ll see that they saw music as synonymous with poetry and dance and theatre. It was all one big way to communicate what’s inside, what you have to say.

To the point of this, my first year of playing piano, I practiced a good five or so hours a day, and don’t tell me of this nonsense that I wasn’t practicing right. I’ve seen a lot of that criticism on the internet for people who practice for more than four hours. Not cool, guys. But anyways, I got into the Music Department at my school and was noticed by the other places I auditioned for.

But then the inevitable happened.

You know when you get really excited about starting a project, so you get so much done in the beginning and then kind of forget about it a little later? Yeah, that happened, and I didn’t discipline myself and didn’t practice much at all anymore.

Yet, something always reminds me eventually of why I play. I’ve got a dream, you know. It’s to play music. And a friend of a friend is a phenomenal musician, and any time I listen to his stuff, I instantly want to practice all day, because I remember I love music, so I want to make it. Perhaps the point of this post is to urge everyone to not forget, is to begin to say what’s inside (as I’ve always been hesitant to do so), and to share a pretty cool musician:

Give these guys a listen, you won’t regret it!

Maybe one day I’ll post something of mine here, but for now, here’s what I have to say.


Published February 27, 2013 by Jess Arwen

“I giorni,” by Ludovico Einaudi is one of my favourite songs to play on piano.  Actually, a friend of mine played it for his piano repertoire last semester, and I fell in love with the song.  It summoned tears to my eyes every time I heard it.  It is just one of those songs which is true and beautiful.

The Italian title literally translates into English as “The Days.”  It sounds like a soundtrack for life, in that it has high moments and lows, but it keeps going on and on, sometimes repeating parts in new perspectives, but always coming to a beautiful climactic cadence.  Analytically, it is nothing special, but pieces like that always hearten me, as they can be played with such earnestness and oftentimes are.  Also, they can be played by those who only just fell in love with music, before they get a big head from all the Bach they can play.

Hope you enjoy!