Music 101: Origin Story

The music of our lives begins with the beating of our hearts. One day it will end with the final beat.

Since everything has its beginning, I wondered: when did music start? Was it invented or discovered? Music has been around for so long that it cannot be traced back to a specific time. It has certainly existed for longer than Homo Sapiens, and we’ve been here for 300,000 years. It is also older than our more primitive ancestors. In fact, it did not originate in our branch of the tree of life.

The elements that make up music – rhythm and melody – have existed since the percussion and reverberations of the big bang. It has long lived in the patter of rain in a puddle and in wind whistling through tall grass. Birds and whales have been singing longer than any primate species, whose earliest experiments with melody might have come from a hunter imitating the song of a bird, or a mother humming something soothing to lull her baby to sleep.

In my individual history, music has been a patient teacher and passionate companion. I learned the alphabet with the help of the melody behind the letters: A, B, CD, EFG… Nursery rhymes and lullabies brought education, entertainment, and comfort to the overwhelming task of making sense of life, and my place in it.

For most people, the music that is popular at the time they first fall in love will always have a special place in their hearts. Every couple has a piece of music they call “our song.” What would a wedding be without singing and dancing? As we get older we often cling to the music of our youth and find it superior to the contemporary music of our older age. But there is always good new music.

This doesn’t resolve the problem of the music lover of good will who says: I’d like to like this modern stuff, but what do I do? Well, the unvarnished truth is that there are no magic formulas, no short cuts for making the unfamiliar seem comfortably familiar. There is no advice one can give other than to say: relax – that’s of first importance, and then listen to the same pieces enough times to really matter

Aaron Copland

Later this month, I will be releasing my first solo album, titled Observations. Whether it is good or bad, whether it speaks to you or not, is up to each individual who listens. I will post the music and links here and will let the work speak for itself. Until that is ready, I will post some more remote learning from my online class Music: 101.

Published by mikepowernyc

Musician and writer. New album "Observations" available now.

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