How to get outta this place…

When I was a child, I loved this particular part of church services: opening the hymnal as the organ’s chords filled the space.

The sanctuary filled with voices of all qualities singing beautiful hymns, and I felt wafted away on the promise of possibility.

Kirtan, Qawwali, and Buddhist chanting affect me the same way. And wonderful new music can be found that transports through hip-hop beats and ambient sound.

At some point recently, I noticed that I prefer music with incomprehensible lyrics or vocalizations. Why on earth would I rather NOT understand the verbal message?

I meditated (thought) about this a bit, and noticed that music conveys its message not only through the precise meaning of the words, but through the many layers of beat, melody, harmony, surprise, tone, timbre, key, note… every abstract bit and aspect of sound and mood flows into music to open our minds.

I’ll share my personal favorite: Rachid Taha’s music. I know a little about him, and have all of his albums (that I can find). I understand  a little about the situation of Muslim Algerian ex-pats in France. But unless the words are in French (or I look it up online), I have no idea what his lyrics – literally – mean.

And that’s okay. It actually helps that I’m clueless.

When I listen to Taha’s music, I receive this: an underlying  chorus of joyous tenacity that tells me that life is worth living, no matter how angry we get, no matter what we lose in the process of following our dreams, no matter what kind of crap we have to put up with along the way.

Music offers this by re-routing our rational, left-brain thinking and pumping all we’ve got into the right brain…

Into the body.

Music engages the entire body, to dis-engage us from our sense of “is that all there is?”.

Instead, music gives us possibility.

So go on and tap your fingers and toes, and sway side to side. Let music take your entire being to the play and places you really want to go.

(For more esoteric explanations, please check out this post and this post. Thanks!)