Updated: Oct 23, 2020
Okay, so you had a bad day. You were late for work, your boss gave you a hard time, you lost a client and your job sucks. What do you do? Well, you could just get drunk and blot out the entire day, smoke a joint or two to forget, or do any number of other dubious things that you may undoubtedly regret later, in order to help you cope with the bad feelings that have been induced during the last 12 hours.
The alternative is simple - to listen to some music that you already know will inspire and uplift you in a non-threatening but highly effective way, and help to eliminate those feelings of depression. So what is uplifting music and does it really help? Why is it that when we listen to our favorite piece of music, regardless of the genre, it seems to offer much comfort, and often washes away all our negatives?
Negatives And Positives
It's strange that every time we encounter negative situations of any kind, we gravitate towards music and song to help restore our equilibrium. I know for a fact that, as a younger man, if things weren't going well or my day was not unfolding the way I intended, I used to head to my piano and just play randomly for hours, until I felt the negative feelings subside.
Other people will listen to an uplifting piece of music in their car or on their iPhone or sing along to their favorite tracks to achieve similar results. Whether you choose, "It's My Life" - Bon Jovi, "We Are The Champions" - Queen, John Lennon's "Imagine", "Beautiful Day" - U2, a classical piece or even your own personal music trigger....... it will work for you. You will get solace and inspiration from the music each and every time, without the unwelcome aftermath that results from turning to alcohol and/or drugs for a high.
Weddings and Funerals
These are two occasions when music is not only important but completely necessary to contribute to the overall ambiance of the event. Imagine a wedding, for example, without any music component. It simply would not happen. Wedding music needs to be uplifting, to underscore not only the joyousness but the solemnity of the occasion.
Mendelssohn's Wedding March is still used (though less than in the past) as a dignified but joyful piece, to be played as the bride walks majestically down the aisle in for example, a church wedding. After the ceremony, there are any number of pieces that can be used as the newlyweds vacate the area. For our wedding, we used Vivaldi's Four Seasons but there are many other choices in different genres, such as "I Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" or Rhianna's "We Found Love" - all appropriate and inspiring.
At the other end of the spectrum, funerals inspire other, more melancholy music choices that fit the occasion emotionally but remain suitably dignified and uplifting. Apart from the obvious choices such as "Wind Beneath My Wings", "You Raise Me Up" and the Albinoni "Adagio", the actual choice of music really depends on the wishes of the dearly departed. Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World" is happier and maybe more philosophical, as is Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" but the list is endless.
Graduate To Music
What graduation at any age level would be complete without some uplifting musical interludes to provide a suitable backdrop to the event? These types of occasions are all about the future and how you can follow your dreams and aspirations till you achieve your goals. The music chosen should reflect these qualities to maintain the dignity and ambiance necessary to inspire youth.
Classically, there are many choices such as Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance" Marches, Gustav Holst's "The Planets" and Beethoven's "Ode To Joy" in his 9th Symphony.
More popular selections could easily include Miley Cyruses "The Climb", "Glory Days" from the TV series "Glee" and "The Graduation Song", which is basically words to the tune by British Victorian composer Sir Edward Elgar, called "Land Of Hope And Glory".
Discussion about uplifting music would not be complete without mentioning its role in sports. At the start of each professional team sporting activity you will hear someone singing or playing a national anthem or two, even if many of the team originates from other countries entirely.
For example, in ice hockey, players come from all over the world, including Russia, Germany, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic, and yet only the US and Canadian anthems are heard. It's possible that these could inspire those players but somewhat unlikely.
In fact, there is ongoing debate as to whether the anthems actually inspire anyone any more, but that, at any rate, is the intention. During the Olympic games, the winning participant always has his/her country's anthem played at the medal ceremonies, and usually brings tears to the eye of the winner. All very uplifting.
All You Need Is.......
There are many, many songs and musical pieces that are inspired by love, often because someone is in love, out of love, looking for love, unrequited love etc. etc. Since the beginning of time, love has inspired thousands of songwriters and composers and so it will always be.
Back in the 16th Century, there were groups of composers who wrote love songs called madrigals, that espoused the beauty and other attributes of their latest flame. These composers were celebrities at the time, and were often invited to the King's court to entertain at social gatherings. I would need a separate post to delve fully into the amazing history of love and music, and so I will simply say that some of the greatest music ever written has been inspired by love in its many forms.
The ever-present theory that 'Love Conquers All', is still a source of many songwriters' inspiration. John Legend's "All of Me", "Unchained Melody" back in the '50s and Celine Dion's "The Power Of Love" spring to mind but there are a ton of others for sure, going back centuries.
More creative but still relevant, are Michael Buble's "I Haven't Met You Yet", which offers a different slant on the usual lovesick ditty, and "Say Something" which is about a possible breakup that could be avoided.
The Votes Are In
After reading this post, it must be very clear to you that we as a society really do need music to uplift and inspire us. I think you will agree that regardless of the occasion, event or emotional state, music is an important part of the overall picture.
I have mentioned various songs and pieces of music that may or may not resonate with you. It doesn't matter if they don't, as you will inevitably have your own playlist that you will call upon to inspire and uplift you whenever you need it*.
"How is it that music can evoke our laughter, our fears, our highest aspirations?” - Jane Swan
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