Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Photog's Choice: black & white and color

Photo Essay

"Where words fail, music speaks"
As Hans Christian Anderson said, music has an incredible ability to reach across continents, remain a constant between cultures, bridge the gap between generations, and speak to souls who otherwise cannot speak. Through its magic, we can create an atmosphere of happiness, excitement, gloominess, or peace, speaking to those around us in a way nothing else can.
Why is music so popular? Besides its catchy melodies and playful lyrics, it is able to reach each person in an extraordinary way. Just like any form of art, music allows its creator to express their emotions and draw their soul into a piece. Often, by putting themselves down in notes, they are able to discover more about themselves than they otherwise believed they could. To live out another's experience through notes on a page (and perhaps lyrics on a page too) is unlike anything else. And that's the beauty of it - what one person sees as nothing special means the world to the next person. Perfection is boring, and music explores the wonders of the unique.
I chose to investigate music because I was curious about its effect on others. To me, music is one of the most important parts of the day. It helps me wake up in the mornings, focus during homework, and relax in the evenings, but it also helps me escape when I feel stuck in one place. Hearing a whole different world in a song is captivating; perhaps that is why people are so strongly drawn to music. To know that it is a universal character in so many lives, yet is unique to each individual, is strangely unifying, and I hope this photo essay reveals its powerful role in the human race.
As I interviewed Hallie, I was able to see that she has an interest in and understanding of music that is unique among 16 year old teenagers. Music makes her feel empowered, and she says that when she is going through a tough time, she has the opportunity to escape to “somebody else’s reality” through song. When I asked Hallie what her life would be like without music, she responded by making a comparison: if life with music is vibrant like colored markers, then life without music is dull like colored pencils.
Jennifer described how music has always been a part of her life, whether it was participating in musical theater, bands, or singing “I Want To Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston at her senior grad night. At 45 years old, she says music makes her feel happy, inspired, motivated, or emotional, and she is drawn to music’s ability to speak to a person’s soul. Jennifer finds hope and excitement for every new adventure, whether it be a simple car ride or a fun hike, in the music she interacts with.
Jordan, 20, is very involved in music, whether it be playing in a band with his brothers or writing songs. His dream is to make and perform music for a living. As I conversed with Jordan, I noticed he kept talking about how music allows him to connect to and analyze himself - something that appeared very important to him. I asked Jordan to name one memorable piece of music, and I was surprised to hear “Canon in D”. Jordan continued, saying how it “made me realize an ancient piece can still connect to emotions, and that’s what makes it a classic piece”.
Throughout the interview, Cameron, age 14, revealed how she didn’t find music as important to her as it is to others; rather, she likes to express her creativity in different ways, primarily photography and baking. However, she did comment on how music allows her to forget about her troubles, and that if music were absent from her life, she would feel as if something is missing.
Michael, age 22, likes to listen to different genres of music depending on his current mood and believes that without constant contact with music, processing his emotions would be much more difficult. He also believes that perhaps the reason music is such a large part of daily life is because is has the power to tell a story with a simple melody and a string of words. In fact, some of his favorite music is Disney’s magical, story-telling songs. Michael references this by creating Mickey Mouse ears with his hands in the photo on the right.
Andie, age 12, often listens to music in the mornings or before her volleyball games to energize her or pump her up. She talked about how “Party In The USA” by Miley Cyrus is one of the songs that brings back very fond memories for her, particularly ones of spending time with her friends on the drive to summer camp. When I asked her what she thought made music so unique, Andie described how it can be like poetry, changing one’s perspective of the world if they really listen to the lyrics.
Leanna, 13, currently plays the clarinet in her school band and would like to learn how to play the violin. Like many others, music helps her relax, forget about her worries, or focus on the task at hand. During my time with her, she commented on how powerful music can be, especially in evoking emotion during important moments in a movie, and how she had never thought about the size of the role music plays in everyday life.

Mckenna, age 16, emphasizes how secular music isn’t very important to her; rather, she explained how she likes to listen to worship music because “it reaches you in a different way”. Listening to worship music reminds her of her values and gives her confidence throughout the day to step out into a world that isn’t always so friendly.
At 46 years old, Andrea understands and strongly believes in music’s power over the mind and the body. Most often, she listens to music while exercising or coaching others at the gym. However, she is most affected by music when it brings back nostalgic memories (for her, the “Java Jive” from 1940 reminded her of family gatherings) by calming her and reminding her of an especially good time in her life.
Brian, age 55, grew up in constant contact with music - seven years of violin, attending many concerts, listening to rock and roll nearly every time he stepped in his car, and blasting music in his high school parking loud enough to hear it inside the school. When I asked him about a memorable piece of music, I could immediately see him reliving his childhood, continually commenting on his favorite 60’s and 70’s bands. Brian concluded the interview with an interesting perspective on his experience with music, describing how learning to play music is equivalent to learning a new language.