What I didn't realize I was learning was that music was another way to tell a story. Playing the music from a story helps you immerse yourself in it. And, learning to play music can help you tell your own story, or that of others. You can explore parts of your personality that you weren't aware existed, and, if you're very brave, your very heart can be laid open to an audience by your music.
The beauty of our great Western classical music tradition is that it carries every emotion, every feeling, every expression of the soul that you could hope for. And those of you who sit in movie theaters and feel excitement, joy, sadness, or suspense because of the soundtracks to the films are experiencing that because of this tradition. Centuries of storytelling, of expression. Most of our film soundtracks are rooted in that tradition.
I was reminded of that today, when I spent my entire day in a movie theater with some extremely wonderful friends watching all three Hobbit movies. Yes, I got to see the third movie two days before everyone else. In IMAX 3D. It was amazing. 10 hours of storytelling on the most epic level.
What I can't help but notice whenever I watch a movie is the music. It's an occupational hazard of being a musician. In high school, my friend Laura and I were watching the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie in theaters. We got to the scene where Jack Sparrow and Will Turner have their sword fight in the blacksmith's workshop. I started grinning, and practically bounced up and down in my seat. I leaned over to Laura and whispered, "This music is incredible!" She shot me a look of pure disgust and said, "Claire. Johnny Depp. And ORLANDO BLOOM. Are SWORDFIGHTING. And all you can think about is the music?!?!?!?!!?" ...Yes.
So, it should be no surprise that today, every time I heard a distinctive four-note motive from the low brass in the Hobbit movies, I knew something bad was about to happen. Every time I hear the distinctive melody I think of as the "Hobbit small people can change the world" tune, I tear up. And, when a reference to Strider was made, the hero melody that permeates the soundscape of the Lord of the Rings trilogy played, and I got chills down my spine and the urge to go watch that trilogy too. (I didn't. I'm blogging instead. Watching three more movies tonight when I have to teach tomorrow would be insane. But that's definitely going on my winter break list of things to do.)
What's the point of all this rambling, besides the fact that I'm a huge geek and don't bother to hide it? The point, my friends, is that music is one of the most powerful forces in this world. Yes, Western classical music and modern film scores written in that tradition have the power to move us. And this is one of the reasons why I'm a musician. Music allows me to enter deeply into other worlds. It also helps me discover my own story, and tell it to those who want to listen. It's something I'm trying to do more consciously in my own art, and you will be seeing several new projects from me on this front in the New Year.