Dec 282017


A person who speaks Chinese and a person who speaks French cannot hold a conversation. Oh, with the use of hand motions, a primary form of communication might be possible; but it could hardly be called conversation. A person who only speaks Spanish cannot have a real conversation with a person who just talks any one of the Vietnamese dialects. All languages are different — all languages except music, that is. Music is the same in every language.

There are seven notes in a musical scale, and it does not matter what country you are standing in or what language you speak. There are still only seven notes in a musical scale. Granted, those seven notes might have different names in different countries; but the music is the same, and if the note is written on a musical staff, every musician plays the very same note.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “Music is the universal language of mankind.” He was right. All humans have the same well of emotions. We can all feel happy or sad — hopeless or hopeful, joyful or depressed, defeated or victorious. Moreover, the same music can evoke the same emotions in people who speak different languages. We all bleed red, and we all feel the same inside. We all understand “music” no matter what language we speak.

I cannot imagine a world without music. Sometimes music merely is background, and sometimes music is the star. However, there is always music, and it is a language that all musicians can read and “speak,” and all the rest of us understand.

Moreover, it is not only humans who understand the language of music. Music therapy has proven effective in plants and animals, too. Furthermore, it has shown that both plants and animals respond in a positive way to the sound of music.

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The Red Sarafan for Chamber Orchestra
Composed by Alexander Varlamov (1801-1848). Arranged by Lisa Lenke Sousa. 21st Century, Romantic Period, Classical Period, Folk, European. Score, Set of Parts. 34 pages. Published by Lisa Lenke Sousa (S0.298957).
Dec 112017


Music and politics are married. It does not appear that such a marriage would be one made in heaven, but they are married nevertheless, and divorce or even separation is not yet a remote possibility. Politics is all about power, and music is powerful — you can see the attraction.

The marriage of music and politics did not take place in the 21st century. The two have been bound together probably since the first politician on earth made his first stump speech.

Music, used as an anti-establishment or protest tool, is also used as a tool to inspire patriotism. We have both antiwar songs and national anthems. Modern-day politicians probably choose the music that will be used in their campaigns before they decide what position they will take on current issues.

Nobody can deny the power of the Bob Dylan song “Blowin’ in the Wind” during the Vietnam war era, or the power of “We Shall Overcome” during the Civil Rights Movement.

Political music is written in every musical genre and during every decade:

Classical political music: An example is Beethoven’s Third Symphony, which was initially titled “Bonaparte.” When Napoleon crowned himself king, Beethoven changed the name by scratching out “Bonaparte.”

Folk political music: Pete Seeger’s “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” was a favorite antiwar protest song.

Rock political music: Crosby, Stills & Nash, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Rage Against the Machine, Protège, and System of a Down all deliver political messages in their music.

Punk Rock and Hip Hop political music: Almost all of the music of both genres are political in nature. They rage against racism and inequality. Both are anti-establishment.

Country political music: The political music of this genre is pro-establishment. Merle Haggard’s “The Fightin’ Side of Me” and “Okie from Muskogee” are both excellent examples.

Music and politics, or politics and music — which came first, we will never know!

Dec 052017


People of all walks of life have opinions about every topic you can imagine (and maybe about a few items you would never want to believe). Music is no exception. Both the famous and the infamous have opinions about music, ranging from what it is to what it isn’t to what it could or should be.

Here are a few quotations about music:

Kin Hubbard was a well-known cartoonist (he created “Abe Martin of Brown County,” which ran in U.S. newspapers from 1904 until his death in 1930) and a humorist. There are a great many terrific quotations attributed to him, but his comment on music is one of my favorites. He said, “Classical music is the kind we keep thinking will turn into a tune.”

Oscar Wilde was a famous playwright and poet. He was also a scoundrel in many ways, but he did have insight. About music, he said, “Music makes one feel so romantic — at least it always gets on one’s nerves — which is the same thing nowadays.”
J. K. Rowling (the Harry Potter books author and my heroine because she got kids to read) said, “Ah, music. A magic beyond all we do here!”