Guest Commentary by Nia Imani Chin
Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desire can be won. It exists. It is real. It is possible. It is yours. -Ayn Rand (1905-1982)
When I listen to music, I salute its’ power and sheer ability to alter our lives. It touches the heart, soothes the soul, inspires the mind, and unlocks the heart wide open. Its’ compositions and rhythms give way for inner peace to commence so we can embrace the brighter side of life’s challenges. Contemporary R&B/Neo Soul singer and songwriter, Goapele Mohlabane, so eloquently crooned…closer to my dreams in her 2001 self-released debut album Closer. Her South African birth name, Goapele, means to move forward. I believe that moving forward is significant to our existence.
Music can help us fast forward through the reality of life. I am compelled by the commonly coined phrase, ‘It is what it is,’ but as a performing artist, I recognize that almost everything is what it isn’t. The art of music helps us identify with our aspirations while teaching us the harmonization of change. It is not limited by gender, ethnicity, or object of desire. It emerges all around us, breathing and manifesting, reminding us that there is still much life to explore. Music resides at the core of our being.
RHYTHM is the heart of life, and the heart is the most important organ in the human body. Its’ primary function is to pump blood to all the other tissues in the body through a network of blood vessels. It is needed to survive and the solid beat to our existence. The heart maintains the circulatory system, beating at approximately 80,000 to 10,000 times a day. Just as we must keep our dreams alive, the absence of a single heartbeat could result in death.
Like any other muscle in the body, the heart contracts and expands – just as our mind and the ambitions it strengthens. It seems as if people rarely rely on their hearts for consultation, perhaps because it is often an irrational and capricious source of judgment. But the heart is the base, the motherboard of our intuition and therefore, cannot be denied. It grants us an unlimited source of optimism with which we can choose to apply and disburse. Once we learn how to wisely use this essential branch, we not only discover its wonder, but also its relevance to the cycles of life.
What constitutes your MELODY? Melody isn’t just a string of notes; it’s the long line of sound that catches your ear as you listen, while rhythm captures your heart as it beats. It is comprised of a string line of notes together but is one of the most basic elements of music. Melody brings life to a song like beauty brings composure to the body; but beauty lies in the eyes of its’ BEHOLDER. Melody is like the shell that shapes the sound, but extraordinary pieces of music should not be judged merely on the richness of their melody. The melodies our bodies are given at birth – the songs of our souls – are vessels that provide outer structure yet protect and conceal our internal organs. The melodies of life afford us flexibility to experiment while maintaining a level of fragility, thus reminding us that we are not invincible.
The TONE or tone color/timbre is the intellectual disposition – the mind. Our greatest objectives of life begin in our minds. Over time, the mind presents us with countless opportunities to expand our perspectives and increase our awareness. Evolution has played a vital role in creating an ‘emotional brain’ in humans, prompting us to feel before we probe and analyze. Nevertheless, the mind is the reflex organ that reacts to EVERYTHING; it ignites possibility and sparks individuality. Just as assorted instruments have different tonal qualities – people too have diverse perspectives and processes of reasoning. A piano may communicate something which when expressed by a guitar, saxophone, or violin, evokes a distinct emotional response. We are all instruments in the cycle of life, placed on Earth to express unique communications through our exchange of generations.
HARMONY is the final component that binds us. It is the SOUL or essence of our being. It is the tonal support and most refined element of music. The conception of harmony has allowed composers to defy traditional and predictable rules of harmonic science, expanding the realm in which to create. Harmony stimulates us to take risks, make changes, and fight for whatever we choose to stand for. The harmony in us is the principle of life, feeling, and thought, constantly guiding us toward a greater consciousness.
My passion for the performing arts and unyielding love for music has inspired me to discover, discern, and deliver. Music encourages me to motivate others on their personal journey while discovering and molding my very own long line.
Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “Many people die with their music still in them. Too often is it because they are always getting ready to live.”
Music is the universal language of life. It is both sound and silence. Rhythm, Melody, Tone, and Harmony are the components that produce the ultimate masterpiece. After all, it is not what we listen TO in music; it is what we listen FOR. If music be the food of life, then we should carefully choose the notes we incorporate into our score because every note leaves its mark. Passion keeps us living, thriving, striving, and flowing like the music in our hearts. Like Goapele graciously sings, I’m going higher and higher, closer to my dream!
Music must always flow, for that is part of its very essence, but the creation of that continuity and flow – that long line – constitutes the be-all and end-all of every composer’s existence.
~ Aaron Copland, What to Listen for in Music
Love and Light for your Tuesday
Nia is an actress of nine years and second year student at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy. She enjoys composing, horseback riding, visual and performing arts, yoga, reading, baking, and lives in New York City. Her aspirations include the incorporation of an online vegan bakery. She is the daughter of Author, Rochelle Soetan.
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