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Why I Love Music: Wirjo Hardjono

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A return to our occasional ‘Why I Love Music’ series – this time featuring thoughts from BAMM.tv’s Wirjo Hardjono …

Sound made to make you ‘feel’? Just the idea of it sounds absurd to me. I don’t know why but I’ve always wondered why music makes you feel and never understood. Sure if it brings back memories, if used is specific contexts or when it’s used in other media. But even if your not paying any attention it sets a mood or better a tone.

Our brain just starts triggering neurons and creating hormones when the air moves our eardrums. Signals that make you aware of your surroundings, did we make sounds to warn the world of our existence? Or did we make sounds to drown out the paranoia of the things we didn’t see? Probably both, we probably still use music for those reasons today, as art form and for an escape.

We just got really good at it. We made sound a form of expression, I imagine that we developed instruments together with our voices. Interacting with your surroundings to create a sensation in others. Of course we do this all the time in many ways but somehow music has always been special to me.

Growing up seeing thousands of people gathering in stadiums to experience it together, yet it feels so personal. It’s a thing we share. Its how we explain to the world how we feel, it gives us identity, both through creating and listening to it. It also gives us the ability to change our state or at least influence how we feel.

We communicate feel best through music, in my experience anyways. I don’t express myself musically, but I like the consumption. I like being influenced by it, giving in to it. I’ll never understand how and I’ll never have to, it just is. It just takes you on a journey.

OTHER BAMM.TV STORIES YOU MIGHT LIKE:

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Chris Hansen

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Jerad Fox

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Phil Lang

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Jeff LaPenna

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Sophie DeWitt

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Christopher Davies

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Sarah Levitt

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Diana Gamboa

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Nick Hansen

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To my alarm, the assignment from our VP of Programming, Phil, read: “Write an essay on what music means to you, and do up a playlist to accompany your thoughts if you have time.”

Oh? Really? Has he lost his mind?? Music! — of all topics, music — boil it down to “my life in a nutshell”, then? How?!

“What does music mean to me” is like “what does water mean for a fish” or “what does fuel mean to an engine”. It’s the sine qua non of life!

Even if you’re imprisoned and held solitary confinement, you still can hum a tune out loud. I read recently about a “locked-in syndrome”, sadly someone prominent drew attention to it through his eventual death last year in England. Google it — you can’t move, you can’t talk, but you can think clearly. Probably, even if you’re so completely unfortunate, you can still dream up a song, one that you’re not hearing with your ears.

The world around us is full of sound, and you know that everyone is seeking your attention, and combinations of sounds can form melodies and harmonies can form stanzas and compositions and songs and albums and compendiums and all that. We are human, we are alive, we make music.

From birth, our first outpouring of expression is in tonal mono-syllables. Over time, some of us are better than others in stringing those together to form song and to vocally express their compositions. Singing for others. It helps if people love the output, but either way, if you’re into it, you’ll probably sing it. Nothing wrong with that.

The public seeks a performer as the performer seeks an audience. They get together. The intense feeling of heavy, deep drum and bass in the middle of a crowded dance floor with its tactile sensibilities, including perhaps unwelcome olfactory experiences and unexpected visual references. The fleeting thoughts. For those willing to put in the effort, when it reaches this stage, the experience isn’t just “brought to you” by music, it is music in its complete intensity, a memory maker.

That sort of intensity regarding music is there to lullaby you as a newborn and to see you off from planet Earth. And every point in between. The tense times, the times you need energy, the times you need to relax, the times you’re running, moving, pushing yourself, fun sexy time, the time you’re tired and lethargic, down in the dumps, that time you cried.

Music is the facilitator that helps everyone smooth over the rough patches in life, both big and small. It’s there for you, it keeps you going, it sets memory points, it reaffirms your existence and defines, a bit, your camaraderie.

OK. Well. Where are we now? Oh. I’m happy that I did my homework in the end. Music means I’m going to wake up tomorrow and get on with it, and hopefully the next day will be at least as good as the day before.

OTHER BAMM.TV STORIES YOU MIGHT LIKE:

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Chris Hansen

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Jerad Fox

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Phil Lang

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Jeff LaPenna

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Sophie DeWitt

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Christopher Davies

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Sarah Levitt

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Diana Gamboa

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Diana Gamboa

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There is no definitive answer to such broad question, and certainly not one that skips clichés, although they do point out core elements that help identify why individuals love music; so why not embrace them and move on, shall we?

Most music is universal, and doesn’t require a common language to understand and enjoy it; at its most basic form, is a combination of melody, harmony and rhythm, and even if we don’t recognize these elements separately, we can feel them, there is an instant reaction, and that in itself is pretty lovable. I would say lyrics are secondary. Listeners don’t instantly love a song because of words, otherwise we would really be into poetry.

Spanish is my first language, and although I’ve been exposed to music sung in English pretty much since I was born, I never really knew what most of the songs meant, until maybe a few years ago. Certainly, what made me love a song wasn’t the subject matter, it was all about the sonic experience, and how those sounds made me feel and where they could take me, which leads me to another clichéd reason of my love of music: otherworldly.

Music is a trip. It takes us places we wouldn’t otherwise be able to go, and yes, cinema and photography do an excellent good job at it, but music does it different, better. It’s the most affordable getaway; we can escape our reality whenever we want. It enables a bubble that protects us from the outside world. “I Listen, Therefore I Exist”.

Walking down memory lane is another aspect I love about music. It’s a sonic look at the past in such a vivid way. Often times I find it even more powerful than the memories evoked by a photograph, and trust me, I document a LOT.

Lastly, music is a reflection of our state of mind. It adapts our mood, our thoughts, it’s the invisible companion that gets us through the day.

OTHER BAMM.TV STORIES YOU MIGHT LIKE:

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Chris Hansen

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Jerad Fox

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Phil Lang

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Jeff LaPenna

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Sophie DeWitt

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Christopher Davies

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Sarah Levitt

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Chris Hansen

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The first truly co-ed parties I remember started the summer after 6th grade. With the exception of pool parties, these events always seemed to involve poodle skirts and white t-shirts rolled up at the sleeve as we danced awkwardly to the music of another era. Our parent-chaperones relived their youth to the sounds of The Big Bopper and Jerry Lee Lewis as they sipped on spiked punch in the kitchen.

I liked the music well enough, but it dawned on me that there must be something more. It wasn’t long before discovering CCR’s Chronicle vol. 1 & 2 on cassette, and I ran the ribbon raw with “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” “Walk On The Water” and “Run Through The Jungle.” Sure, I also liked “Suzie Q,” “Proud Mary” and “Looking Out My Backdoor,” but I was craving something a little more disorderly.

About that time, I invaded my brother’s collection of records, tapes and new-fangled CDs and was awakened to all things British. I listened to everything I could find from The Beatles, The Smiths, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Echo and the Bunnymen. I most loved singing along with Morrissey’s depressed choirboy vocals beginning with “Reel Around the Fountain” and going straight through to “Paint A Vulgar Picture.” I was shocked and ashamed to discover that the band had already broken up by the time I heard The Queen Is Dead.

Then I went to a Phish show at Red Rocks. All I can say is: epic.

I was forever changed. After buying the entire catalog on CD I learned that you could go into certain record stores and ask for the “Italian imports,” whereupon the clerk would reveal a hidden stash of live bootlegs from under the counter. I saw Widespread Panic at the HORDE tour and indeed my horizons of rock developed further.

On my first date with my wife, she introduced me to The Black Keys with a compilation CD from The Big Come Up and Rubber Factory. Even though I was hearing it for the first time, it was like I had always known each song. A year later when Attack and Release came out, “All You Ever Wanted” became our song.

Back in college, I would set my alarm clock every day to a random track from Mozart’s Requiem.

Today, I begin my jogging routine the same way every time with “The Divided Sky” off Phish’s debut album.

I can recite the entirety of Vivaldi’s aria “Nulla In Mundo Pax Sincera” in my head even though I don’t understand most of the words.

I’ve played in several bands with my friends, and now I stumble along on a melodica playing Stan Getz tunes to my daughter.

So why do I love music? Because I can barely remember what clothes I was wearing two days ago, but all of these memories are lodged permanently and warmly in my brain. They are as much a part of me as my skin.

OTHER BAMM.TV STORIES YOU MIGHT LIKE:

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Jerad Fox

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Phil Lang

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Jeff LaPenna

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Sophie DeWitt

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Christopher Davies

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Sarah Levitt

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Peter Hackmann

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Music has played a major role in my life ever since my older brother decided he wanted to learn how to play drums. Naturally, as the little brother I had a juvenile obsession with his decision and followed closely, admiring his shiny black and chrome kit and the seemingly random things he would play on it after a drum class. What I didn’t realize is how greatly his decision to study music would affect the trajectory of my own life. When I decided to try out for band as a 13 year-old, I was told by the teacher that I would make a fine addition to the horn section. But, taking my brother’s lead, I opted for the ‘things you bang on’ section instead.

Down the rabbit hole I went. Playing percussion soon became an obsession. Anything I could get my hands on became a snare drum, marimba, triangle, or bass drum. I would find myself listening to fluorescent light bulbs for their pitch and tuning the timpani to the sound of light in the band hall. Competition after competition, performance after performance, playing music became a highly-addictive and ‘can’t-do-without‘ feature of my life. This is one reason that I love music. It has the delightfully infectious ability to give life meaning and substance, and teach people to focus, listen, reflect, and ultimately better themselves – and share these things with an audience.

But an even greater reason that I love music, besides its individual benefits, is because it functions as a truly global language. During college, I had the opportunity to travel abroad and interact with very different cultures which, as my aunt put it, was like “traveling to the moon” for her generation. When translation failed, and it often did, I turned to music. I found that simply pulling out a guitar and strumming chords could turn foreigners into friends, after the wine was consumed, of course. A playlist on my iPod once turned a benign roommates’ dinner into a night on the town. Just knowing and appreciating music from other cultures has ignited conversations and friendships, whether at a bar in Mexico, a birthday party in Italy, or a seminar in New York.

I can remember one occasion where I performed with a girl from South Korea, who was a talented, if timid, musician. She spoke almost no English, and I speak no Korean, but when we played together no words were needed. Our language became phrasing, tempo, dynamics, and the movement of sticks. We could play a sonata without even speaking to each other. I’m also reminded of the times at a folk festival in Texas when donning my washboard allowed me to jam with “the Nashville camps” simply because it was something we all recognized and understood (Even Tennessee is somewhat foreign to Texans). No language can even come close to these types of communication, only music.

In essence, what I love about music is that all people, regardless of age, origin, or language, are hard-wired to understand it. Even in today’s hyper-active, hyper-connected world, music remains a testament to the oldest and simplest of human instincts: the desire to come together and share, learn, and simply enjoy sound itself. I never considered any of this when my brother first practiced his drum kit, but now I understand just how crucial those experiences with music were to me. And that’s why I love it.

OTHER BAMM.TV STORIES YOU MIGHT LIKE:

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Jerad Fox


Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Phil Lang

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Jeff LaPenna

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Sophie DeWitt

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Christopher Davies

Why I Love Music: BAMM.tv’s Sarah Levitt

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