18 Feb 2019 - Vivian Hir
Do you remember the times when you not only went through different stages of growth (an indirect way of saying puberty) and started to have different tastes in music, games, movies, etc.? In the beginning of middle school, I went with the flow by listening to what was popular and didn’t touch my classical music CDs anymore. Dust started to pile on top of them. Then, I took a different turn the latter part of middle school and listened to some early 2000s bands such as The Fray and Lifehouse. Finally, I took a U-turn at the beginning of high school and gradually listened to more classical music instead of listening to mainstream songs.
At that time, I was familiar with classical music and played the piano. However, I never took my free time to listen to classical music for fun. I played classical music because that is what piano students play. It wasn’t until that my YouTube recommendations started to feature a few classical songs such as The Swan by Saint Saens or Morning by Grieg. After watching these videos, classical music started to become my “new” music taste. Childhood memories of listening to Debussy during the night started to come back. Compared to lyrical songs, classical music songs were up to my interpretation. I could paint any picture I wanted to in my head without the need for the lyrics to guide me. In other words, early 20th-century impressionism songs such as Clair de Lune made me become more imaginative by thinking of an idyllic nature scene.
Even if I may not see picturesque scenes every day, this type of music made me appreciate the beauty of nature. While listening, I turned these auditory senses into visual ones. Listening to classical music is like creating a storyboard, but using music to convey a story. The “readers” have to identify the emotional cues and actions of the characters while listening to the song. Even if the songs I listen to are played on one instrument, I can imagine each sound to be a different type of instrument. The legato notes make me think of a violin while the staccato notes can be thought of bugles.
What’s more, I could connect to the songs on an emotional level without the need for words. The emotions were so nuanced by conveying both sadness yet beauty. An example of this paradox is The Lark by Mikhail Glinka. Although it is not a well-known piece, it was able to effectively express despair yet make it sound beautiful by reminding me of a lonely lark singing.
In short, listening to classical music lets me enrich myself in various types of emotions while understanding the true beauty. You may call me old-fashioned because I listen to classical music, but I find it a different and unique listening experience compared to other types of music.Vivian Hir is a high school student who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her blogs can be found here. Constructive feedback is appreciated.