The Language of Music

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.

Music has always been an important influence in my perception of life. Being a writer, I love the world of words. But to write, I need to feel. And to feel what I wish to feel, I need music.  Music that makes me stop in my tracks, hypnotized. Music that takes over my senses and clouds my consciousness. Music that speaks to me powerfully…that my mind embodies in totality. As it takes me through a spectrum of emotions, I understand the power of this non-verbal language. It effortlessly takes me to greater depths than does the language of words. It is for this reason that I have found the background music a very important component of a movie, more so than the songs.

Music retains its carnal quality- a language far more ancient than the language of words, and therefore deeply rooted into man’s unconscious.

World over, there is so much diversity in music for it is significantly influenced by geographical, cultural and social factors. And yet, unlike the language of words, It makes itself accessible to all. This awareness is enthralling to me.

I remember my experience of the movie Frida. I came out of the theatre speechless, for I had no words to describe the magic of that sensory experience. Was it the hypnotizing Mexican music….the ingenious portrayal of Frida‘s personality and life…or the vibrant and colourful titbits of Mexican culture? I did not know which was most appealing to me. In the end, I decided that it was the concoction as a whole that made the movie so brilliant. And in that regard, the music certainly embodied every moment of that movie, as much as it embodied the spirit of Mexican culture. It made me fall in love with Hispanic culture. It took me through such a  rollercoaster of emotions in 3 hours of time that I felt I had lived my life in those 3 hours! I made up my mind that I would certainly visit Mexico some time in my life!

Elliot Goldenthal did a brilliant job with his compositions in this movie. He retained the touch of folk classic and traditional Mexican music, which I find haunting. No wonder Frida won two awards- Best Original Soundtrack of the Year and Soundtrack Composer of the Year! I think Latin American music is intense in its emotional richness and because it has a multicultural influence (Spanish, indigenous Indian, African), it has character. With its assortment of guitar, accordion and percussion instruments like the marimba, it is a treat to the senses. It is the sort of music where I do not know which I love more- the melody or the rhythm! It was a movie that opened my eyes to how deeply rooted music is into a culture. All in all, I find Spanish music very rich, diverse and appealing.

I also find myself more stimulated by music that represents a multicultural influence. I remember this Hungarian composition, Szerelem Szerelem from the movie The English Patient, which I found compelling. It was a composition that seemed to have strong Arabic overtones, giving it a unique character. Says author Bence Szabolcsi , “Asian memories slumber in the depths of Hungarian folk music and this folk music is the last Western link in the chant of ancient Eastern cultural relations.”

It is perhaps for the same reason that I loved Nicholas Gunn‘s instrumental music, which again represents a multicultural influence. It takes you straight to the heart of a tropical forest, with all its sounds!

In essence, music transcends barriers of place and time. As Marta Sebestyen states:

I might think that this music, even though it might sound unfamiliar at first, is important because it is not artificial. We just play, with real passion, and that touches people. The source of these songs may be different, but the essence of traditional music is the same, no matter what country. The melodies carry all these feelings, the true feelings of the people.”


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