Why We Like Music

Last Saturday, I went to see Irish-rock band Kodaline at The Prince Bandroom. I felt very excited queuing up outside the venue of the standing-room show and almost burst with excitement when I scored a place at the front of the stage.

It's always an impatient yet exciting time waiting to see a concert, a concert of a lifetime | Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold.

It’s always an impatient yet exciting time waiting to see a concert, a concert of a lifetime | Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold.

While waiting for the band to jump out on stage, Kodaline fans swarmed around me, shoulder to shoulder. We were all here to see one band, to enjoy the same songs. It got me thinking: why do we like music so much? So many of us listen to music in the car. When we study. When we’re sitting at home.

We listen to music to relax and de-stress. We might have had a tough day at work or school and unwind with songs that are music to our ears the minute we get home. In this sense, music can be a temporary distraction from the trials and tribulations of reality, taking us to a happier place for a moment.

When Kodaline kicked off their show at 9.45pm with the fast-paced After the Fall and One Day, the 900-packed-to-capacity crowd sang along, word for word. Including me. I couldn’t hear my voice and I don’t think anyone else could hear theirs either. We were there to sing, lap up the songs and enjoy the band’s live performance. Nothing else.

A lot of the time we’re captivated by music as an art form, an art form worth appreciating. Not all of us can pen lyrics or play an instrument, let alone sing in tune. It’s no wonder we find some pieces of music so stunning – haunting harmonies we can only admire and dream of playing on guitar for adoring crowds in our sleep. My eyes barely left lead singer Steve Garrigan as he did a double act of blowing into a harmonica and stroking the mandolin for the country-sounding Love Like This. Triple if you count singing. Piercing wolf whistles were aplenty around the room when he hit the high notes in slow-jam High Hopes.

Then there are the healing effects of music which we we often find comfort in. Music is frequently used as part of therapy. Love sick or heartbroken, there’s always a sad song we can relate and cry along to. As the Irish lads began the somber post-breakup ballad Talk on keys, the crowd aptly toned down their screaming and swayed along.

Controversial lyrics aside, every song is open to all kinds of interpretation and we are free to listen and enjoy music however we like. Music is a form of creative expression and there really is no right or wrong way to think about and react to a song. When Kodaline busted out the bass-heavy All Comes Down, I furiously bopped my whole body along to the beat. Glancing to my left, a bunch of Asian girls were doing the complete opposite: standing stoically, gazing up at the band. Either they were “too boring to jump” or that was their way of appreciating live music. Whichever the reason, no one laughed at them. Or at me.

Music is a beautiful thing. A universal language that transcends race and connects us. We don’t need to know much English to enjoy an English song or Korean to groove to a Korean song. Why, we can even mumble wrong lyrics, who cares? The message of a song more often than not strikes a chord with us and our emotions.

At 11pm, Kodaline closed the show with their biggest hit to date, the anguish-filled All I Want. I put away my camera as the first guitar chords of the song rang out. To my surprise, practically everyone at the front of the stage tucked their cameras and phones away too. We sang. We sang so loudly we could barely hear Steve’s voice. When we got to the hymn-sounding bridge part of the tune, he let us finish the song.

I’m sure all of our hearts were beating together as one right then.

When do you listen to music? Do you like going to music concerts?

Kodaline's Steve with his harmonica and mandolin. Yes, I was an arm away from the band.

Kodaline’s Steve with his harmonica and mandolin. Yes, I was an arm away from the band.

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31 thoughts on “Why We Like Music

    • Thanks, Matt. Aaah, covers of Radiohead songs. It does sound like an interesting night. I’m a bit of a soft rocker myself and I don’t mind listening to Radiohead anytime. I hope the concert you’re going to/went is a sitting down one. I stood for four hours in total to see Kodaline. Was very beat and aching all over by the end of it. Which was all cured by staying in bed on a Sunday morning 🙂

      Btw, your comment automatically ended in my Spam bin. Don’t know why. It’s not like you said anything nasty :/

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        • How was the concert? Did they play your favourite tunes? If you could remember it of course 🙂 The last sit-down concert I went to was to see the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Bought the cheapest, $25 tickets. Sat right up back in the balcony and it wasn’t too pleasant bending my head down to see the action the whole time, lol.

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          • Aww. 😦 That doesn’t sound like much fun. Yes, the concert went well. I got there late and only heard the last three songs — but they were amazing. And it was free, so that was good too. It was a small theater, and very old too. It’s called the Ford Theater, after Henry Ford. He was involved with Berry College somehow.

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            • That’s great to hear, Matt. Small concerts tend to be very cozy and usually have a good acoustics. I’m sure you enjoyed yourself, better late than never! Free concerts are the best. Those are very rare here in Melbourne. Tickets for concerts here in an auditorium start at around $50. For gigs in pubs, it’s a $10+ admission fee you pay to get in.

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  1. I so envy your experience of seeing them live. I’m pretty sure that you have got one best time in thir concert based on your story. Thank you for sharing this with me.

    Speaking of music, I can say that it is my life. I don’t think I can live my life without listening to songs I’ve enjoyed. Like this time I’m writing this post while I’m listening to Band of Horses singing through my earphones. I think music can sooth one’s soul no matter what genre is.

    As my age is up each year, I rarely attend concert especially the standing one. It’s not good to my back when I have to stand up a long time. I prefer concerts with seating. But it’s quite hard to find one for the kind of bands I love listening to their songs. I have many bands I want to see them live. However, I know it’s hard for me who’s living in country where my favorite musical genre isn’t the main stream.

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    • I was thinking of you writing the post, Cotton, and remember how you said you like Kodaline a lot. So I dedicate this post to you 😀 I did have a great time at the concert. Kodaline sang very much in tune. The bassist Jason was right in front of me and smiled a few times down at me. Very magical. But the downside was I came away from it very tired: in total I stood for over 4 hours and less than 2 hours in, my back, legs and balls of my feet were hurting very bad. Not that I’m old. Even the teenagers behind me were complaining. Two other downsides were that someone cut queue right behind me outside the venue and the venue smelt funny, like of smoke.

      Concerts with seating tend to be very expensive to go to but yeah, you don’t have to stand and hurt yourself and not get hurt from people pushing you at standing concert. So sorry to hear that you don’t get the opportunity to see your favourite artists. I’m sure one day you’ll be lucky and get to see them somehow. Maybe they’ll play in a country that you’re visiting 🙂

      Band of Horses sounds nice. I’m looking to listen to more smooth music, so I think I’ll check it out. Thank you for sharing.

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      • Yeah, speaking of my favorite bands … I’ve been in Singapore in order to see Sigur Ros’ concert. I think Singapore will be the country I can go and see concert of my favorite artists. However, I have to be selective in choosing what bands I will see because it will cost me in place ticket and hotel expense.

        Hope you like Band of Horses. But if you’re looking music like Kodaline, I think Mighty Oaks sounds similar to them.

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        • Singapore is quite near to Thailand, just a few hours flight away. I heard they are a very popular Icelandic rock band and usually play to sold out shows, and you must have enjoyed yourself when they were playing. I usually only go to concerts when I know I will have a good view. A few weeks ago I went to a orchestra concert, sat right in the very last row on the balcony – the entire time I had to bend my head down to see the orchestra, it wasn’t physically pleasant. I took a risk with the Kodaline concert and got to stand in front, it paid off but one week on, I still remember how much pain I was in after the concert. So like you, maybe no more standing concert for me in the future.

          Band of Horses sounds interesting. So does the other one. I might check both of them out. Thanks, Cotton 🙂

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    • Thanks, NW. I rarely go to concerts, partly because they cost quite a bit and they finish late at night. And it just so happens a lot of the artists I’m interest in have standing-only concerts…and it hurts to stand for the duration of these concerts. Glad that this post took you back to happier times. The feeling of being at a concert can’t really be explained fully in words – you’ll have to go to one to experience it yourself!

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  2. Pingback: Weekly Photo challenge – Threshold – Do I or don’t I? |

  3. I guess I am a little weird. I like listening to all types of music, sure. But for some reason I have always preferred music that had no lyrics to it. Maybe I always liked putting my own lyrics to it.

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    • Aren’t we all a little weird, Domenico. I like music with no lyrics too, especially dancing violist, Youtuber Lindsey Stirling. I guess we can always interpret music with no lyrics however we want, and that’s why this genre can be so special to some of us. We use our imaginations and our heart to feel the instrumental music, and it speaks back to us, or we speak to it!

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  4. The Canadian rock band Triumph got it right in their song “The Magic Power”, which begins “Something’s at the edge of your mind; you don’t know what it is. Something you were hoping to find, but you’re not sure what it is. Then you hear the music, and it all comes crystal clear. Music does the talking, says the thing you want to hear…I’m young, I’m wild, and I’m free. Got the magic power of the music in me…”

    Music has always been a very important part of my life. I am a huge Bruce Springsteen fan because I have found that I can personally relate to the themes in his songs. But nothing moves my soul the way playing piano does. There is something more going on in the brain when making music. It is a whole other language.

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    • I love that Triumph lyric you shared. ” Music does the talking, says the thing you want to hear”. That is so true. Sometimes when I listen to a song for the first time, it grabs me right from the beginning and touches my heart, making me feel warm and fuzzy, or cool and collected depending on the mood of the song.

      Creating music is a whole other thing and you’re right in saying that it’s a whole other language. I play some piano too, but my playing is really wooden. It’s easy enough to press notes on a piano, but playing a note that sounds great – with feeling, emotion – is another thing altogether and not every one who plays piano can do that.

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  5. I like listening to all kinds of music but because I play classical piano, I have a soft spot for going to classical music concerts. Because classical music is “tough” for those that don’t usually listen to it, its strange how when I go to a concert I can see most of the usual faces. And there are plenty of people from the music school I go to too, and we all love the same things 🙂 We did our own concert last week. If I manage to get any of the photos I’ll post about i! 🙂

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    • I hope you had a good time at the concert and you played the piano well. I’m sure you did excellent, don’t expect anything less from a classical-music enthusiast 🙂 I think it’s tough for some to appreciate classical music as there aren’t any lyrics in this musical genre. Probably takes a more imaginative mind to conjure up what a classical piece is about.

      I like going to see the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. A few weeks ago I went to see them play Beethoven’s 5th. Wasn’t too nice sitting right up back in the balcony, head down to see the musicians, but it was an electrifying performance. I do see familiar faces there all the time – and they are all elderly people! 🙂

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  6. I love to go to concerts but for many years I just didn’t found the time and energy for it anymore (hope it changes soon!)
    I can’t really say when listen to music, I don’t have any triggers or mood, just sometimes the idea of listening pops into my head and I turn on some songs 🙂

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    • Oh yes, you do need a lot of energy and stamina if you to a concert. Even a sitting down one. There’s just so much to take in, from the singers, band, the set up of the stage, sound system, lighting and so on. Maybe you might want to put on some tunes for your kid 🙂

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  7. Sound is one of the 5 basic senses, and each sense (or at least those that we possess, as not all have all 5) must be stimulated to make us feel alive. Music is pleasurable and social. It evokes feelings.

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    • That is quite a deep comment. We hear music and if others hear the same music and sing along, it’s always a happy sight, atmosphere and feeling. I wonder what happens if all our 5 senses – for those of us who have all of them – are stimulated at the same time.

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    • You know what? Me too. My life would sound and be very silent without music. Doesn’t matter if we can’t sing or play an instrument (thought I think stamping our feet to a beat does count!). Music calms us, inspires us, excites us…music is so many things to us. This sounds cheesy but in short, music is the chicken soup for the soul.

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  8. Kodaline are gorgeous! Really like this, music is such a beautiful thing! I love that feeling of unification at a concert when everybody is connected so intensely through a song(s). 🙂

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    • Yes, Kodaline are very gorgeous and they sing very well. The band sang in perfect tune at their show that I went to. The world just falls away when we are at concert, all differences put aside. It’s rare that I attend concerts because they are so expensive, and I think this applies to most of us too. Hope you had a good time at any concerts you’ve been to. And it’s great to see you around here again. I’ve missed your posts 🙂

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