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Thursday, 3 January 2013

How music makes us feel (2)

This morning I took the funeral service of a parishioner who had been an active member of the Michael Ball fan club and, as a result, incorporated the titles of many songs recorded by Michael Ball into the tribute I gave as part of the service. This was appreciated by many of those present, including other fan club members, who not only recognised the songs this lady loved but also the connections with her own life story.  

All this was a reminder to me that people can identify very deeply with songs. We see this in the way that people choose particular songs to mark major milestones in their lives (like weddings or funerals). We see it in the way that teenagers will play one song over and over and over again and we see it in the way that concerts can become corporate singalongs as the crowd knows all the words and takes over the singing from the band.

We do all this because there is something in the combination of the music and lyrics that connects deeply with what we are thinking and feeling at that time. When that connection is made the link can stay with us for a lifetime. Great songs therefore are not propaganda or sermons they are essentially about empathy and making emotional or intellectual connections that reveal to us something about ourselves and our world. In other words, the best songs are like epiphanies; moments of revelation in ordinary life which reveal something of either the wonder or the depravity of life.

For more on epiphanies and music, try reading 'The Secret Chord', the book I have co-authored with Peter Banks.


Michael Ball - Bring Him Home.

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