Music (and perhaps art in general) has this wonderful power to uplift one’s mood and change one’s attitude towards life (even if only for a brief moment). In this, it reminds me a little of the promises of religion. Both religion and music actually act more in the realm of human feelings, passions and irrationalities, than in the realms of cold logic, reason and scientific precision. Hence there should be no surprise that many good musicians are actually quite religious folks (with notable exceptions, of course). Bob Marley was a Rastafarian, David Bowie – a Buddhist, Prince – a Jehova’s Witness, Madonna – an esoteric Kabbalist, Michael Jackson – a non-practicing, eclectic Christian of a kind . Being a musician makes you naturally more attuned to the religious lingo and more open to the spiritual experiences of any kind (see for example – http://www.adherents.com/people/100_rock.html).
There is one important difference between religion and music. That being: music has no creed. You don’t have to be a practicing musician to enjoy its beauty. You don’t have to play the instruments or read the notes to take pleasure in it. You can simply listen and feel its influence directly on your spine. Religion at its most polished, sophisticated and, if you like, postmodern form has some similarities with music – it aims at the unity of your experience with all being. It tries to overcome the artificial boundaries of social conventions and create an utopia of everlasting happiness. In fact, today in our postmodern times, it seems that religions are quickly abandoning their dogmas, creeds and belief systems and are zealously adapting themselves to the prevalent mood of modernization, liberalization and globalization, thus making any comparison with music as defined before rather meaningless. Many religions today would actually claim their universality precisely because of their non-sectarian, non-existing demarcation lines. In music as in religion, anything goes today. You can play the piano without touching the keyboard (See the American Zennist hippy John Cage). And you can be religious or spiritual without actually going to the church or participating in collective rituals or belonging to a particular sect (as the sociologist Grace Davie calls it “believing without belonging” or “belonging without believing”). You don’t have to meditate, to pray or to sacrifice an animal for your deity, to call yourself a religious believer anymore. In fact, even an atheist today, unfortunate as it may be, may associate himself or herself with certain spiritual acrobatics.
Now, quite frequently in the past I have had conversations with a couple of comrades in a local Irish pub or some other venue. Usually, I have noticed, in these socializing spots one’s conversations are often accompanied by various musical and rhythmic components which, if well suited, confer a calm and positive atmosphere to the whole setting and even may contribute to the substance of our conversation and enhance it’s aesthetic appeal.
How you ever experienced that a certain song or musical vibration suddenly changes your whole perception of the question or problem at hand? How you ever had this feeling of being, as if, struck by the lightning, dumbfounded but vividly awake, while listening to a mysterious tune that suddenly has taken control over your brain? Imagine. You talk with someone and then in the midst of your verbal interaction: “Boom!”, your sentences and your body language become almost synchronized with the music you have become aware of just seconds earlier. You become possessed by the song and instantly act and speak differently than before. Music is closer to religion than you may have thought before. Music may predispose you favorably to religion or even may get you involved in a cult or two. And yet, without casual lapses in the arms of your favorite melodies, would you remain mentally sane and rational?
P.S. An uplifting tune. 🙂 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5s7frYDrVD4&feature=channel&list=UL