The Front Porch: What makes us tick, tick, tick, tick?

After a long day spent insulating and drywalling my basement I retired to the front porch of my tiny, craftsman bungalow with a bowl of tobacco and a bottle of beer. I penned this article first on paper, as the rocking chair gently creaked and the rain softly fell. If you haven’t already guessed, I do my best pondering here, as the smoke drifts about and this infernal, leaky, red oil lamp (purchased at Wal-Mart for $3) casts a dim, surreal light upon the premises.

As I worked today I chewed on a question posed by an old friend:

Being a man who has been immersed in music for a large part of his life, I had a question I wanted to get your thoughts on. So basically my question is “What about music makes it attractive to people?” I have just been wondering this because a love of music seems to be one of the only nonessential life functions that almost all people share. Since different people enjoy different styles of music though, it has to be a more fundamental property of music itself.”
-Friar Tuck, in an email to The Bruce

I was recently told that melodies (and words attached therein) are among the safest, most protected memories in the brain, that should you grow old and fat and lose your mind, you will still remember songs. And should you by happenstance be bumped on the head and forget everything else in your life, you will probably still remember the words to those childhood songs, stored deep within your psyche.

Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream…”

So what does make us tick? Like the reliable meter of a metronome, apparently there are some things so consistent none of us can avoid them. And why do we love music, and like primordial beasts, instinctively hide it away in our safest places even as we are unaware we are doing it?

Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy, it is the wine of a new procreation …”
Ludwig van Beethoven

Music is indeed a revelation. It is the nonverbal communication of emotion, a thousand feelings all at once high and low, infinite expressions beyond absolute interpretations, the free flow of thought between composers and musicians, musicians and you, you and me. Is music all these things and more? Perhaps it’s simply beyond our comprehension.

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