“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…” This quote from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden can express and connect with many of the ways that I feel about music. Thoreau’s essay explains many of the eye-opening occurrences that he witnessed and experienced while he was residing by Walden Pond in the 1800s. As he thoroughly expresses in Walden, Thoreau feels that his time by the pond allowed him to relate with what he considers to be “the essential facts of life”, or nature. Likewise, music, my “Walden Pond,” allows me to connect with what I consider to be “the essential facts of life.”
To me, as nature was to Thoreau, music is definite. It cannot be altered to be anything but what it is. Granted, there are many types and styles of music, and each has a different way of expressing different things. However, there is no element that can change the embodiment of music. Sounds you hear everyday– a bird singing to the sunrise, the sound of water on your roof, or even the sound of your tires on the highway– are musical. Music doesn’t necessarily have to have a rhythm or recurring melody; every pitch that we hear is a note on some scale that has always been in existence, and therefore is music. Because you cannot change the fact that everything has its own sound, and therefore its own music, you cannot alter what music truly is.
Thoreau’s long-term visit by Walden Pond allowed him to see the more fundamental and basic aspects of life, which he believes you can learn by going to nature. Whether it be playing an instrument, listening to 70’s Rock ‘n’ Roll, or listening to the human voice, music allows me to also escape from the world of “quiet desperation” that Thoreau believes “the mass of men lead.” There is something about music that the mind consents to; something that humans have been tinkering with since the dawn of time…
As of yet, I have not discovered exactly what voice captures my soul and sets it afire. Could it be the rich and audacious blast of the trumpet that sets my heart thumping, or possibly the mellow beauty of the French horn’s tone in a concert hall that melts my heart and makes everything seem golden? Similarly, the piano, a more complicated instrument, can have the same affects on a person. The flowing scales, the tremendous power of its chords, and the light delicacy of its arpeggios are enough to capture the listeners’ attention and make their hearts speed up with the pianist’s fingers over the keys. The stoic resolution of the piano’s notes and chords can make the audience and the music become one in a world of complete euphoria or serenity, away from the world of what Thoreau says is a “hardship.” However, there is a different kind of satisfaction that comes from pounding out face-melting chords from my electric guitar. While it allows you to escape from the world of trial and tribulation, it also allows you to get out pent-up
energy and stress, and therefore lets you look deeper inside yourself and discover what elements make you who you are. This, to me, is what life is all about: looking inside of yourself to see who you are. Music is definite, and therefore is a great way to express who you are and to “get away from it all.”
Listening to music also alleviates the mind from this world of chaos and insecurity. For me, bands like Led Zeppelin, Queen, and Boston allow me to sit back, relax, and enjoy their amazing songs time after time. I think that this is best represented in Boston’s song “More Than a Feeling” when they say “I turned on some music to start my day,/ and I lost myself in a familiar song./ I closed my eyes and I slipped away.” That is how I feel when I listen to those bands’ songs; I close my eyes, and let their music take me away to a place where I don’t have to worry about the world’s demands and hassles. Taking that journey with the lead guitar into his ungodly solo or with the lead singer who’s voice can melt even the coldest of hearts; taking that journey just allows my mind to fly with the heaven-bound notes and become “awake.” Thoreau says that if you are awake, then you are alive. When I hear these songs, I feel very alive and it gives me unprecedented amounts of energy. The music that I listen to gives me a feeling of completion inside of myself, and I am sure that Thoreau felt the same way about nature.
Music is definite; music is true to the world and true to the heart. There are very few things in this world that are as definite as music and, as Thoreau believes, nature. However, every person has their own Walden Pond, and therefore a place to escape the “quiet desperation” of the world. If we wish to live lives of deliberation instead of our current lives of struggle and blindness to our sad plight, we must find our own Walden and, as Thoreau did, observe the finer and more fundamental parts of our lives. “To be awake is to be alive.” To this, I have only one amendment: “To have music is to have life.”