In addition to loving board games, Magic: The Gathering, being a HUGE LotR fan and a book worm, I am also an unashamed band geek. I picked up the trombone at 10 and knew that it was MY instrument. When I tested out different all sorts of different instruments; I tried the clarinet, oboe, saxophone, trumpet, etc., pretty much everything you could think of. But when the guy helping me finally handed me the trombone to try, it felt right as soon as I picked it up. I played my first few notes, looked at my dad and the rest is history. At 10, I was barely taller than the trombone, but that didn’t stop me. Fast forward 13 years, and now, despite my minor in music and trombone performance (and being able to reach 7th position), I don’t play as often as I’d like. What hasn’t changed, though, is my absolute obsession with pieces of music with good trombone. Or just good symphonic music in general.
If I’m in a bad mood, nothing will snap me out of it faster than listening to the “Indiana Jones” theme. (I even have that as one of my ringtones on my phone!) If I’m having a shitty day at work, I put on the “Lord of the Rings” soundtrack, and everything is at least bearable. And when I’m writing I put on basically any ballet, musical, symphony or soundtrack that appeals to me when I start.
What I love about symphonic music is its depth. I’ve been told that classical music is boring, but I have not once thought that. There is so much going on that if you take the time to listen, you can pretty much hear something new, or feel something new with every repeat listen. For example, when I listen to the LotR soundtrack now, I hear different things and feel differently than when I listened to it for the first time when I was 11-years-old. Pop music just doesn’t have that same quality (sorry, TSwift). There are some bands that definitely achieve depth and musicality to a greater degree than others, but that’s a discussion for another time. A lot of the pop music on the radio is overwhelmingly boring, repetitive and just terrible (I’m not sorry, Justin Beiber).
I do have to admit that I think just jumping into classical music might be kind of intimidating. (I don’t really know, I grew up with it, and when every other girl my age was buying N*SYNC CDs, I was buying Mozart piano concertos, but I’m assuming.) But that’s the beauty of soundtracks. They bridge the gap between pop music and classical music. A casual classical music listener might not enjoy opera, but I’m sure they’ve listened to some John Williams. And that’s because soundtracks can be really fun. Listeners can be transported to exact moments in the movies, which make them easier to connect to. You hear a theme and can feel the mood of the movie, characters and story.
Here are some of my favorites:
Indiana Jones Theme
Lord of the Rings — Minus Morgul Theme
Lord of the Rings — Fellowship Theme
I could add basically all of the LotR sound track, so I’ll stop there.
And, just for good measure, I’ll add one of my absolute favorite non-soundtrack pieces of music. It’s Ravel’s “Bolero”, and it really shows how incredible just a simple theme can be. Different instruments take the theme throughout it, and it builds intensity as it goes. It’s not flashy, but it develops into layers and layers of instruments working together. And If you listen to it, I promise there is an incredible trombone part after all the woodwinds get their turn.
Classical music is underrated by (what seems to be) the majority of people today. But after coming home from work, there is almost no better way to unwind than drinking some wine or beer and listening to some classical music. (I should do that more often.) And I don’t mean listening while multi-tasking (as I currently am), I mean just sitting there, closing your eyes, and listening to all the layers of music.
And going to a symphony is another experience altogether. Watching the conductor and musicians come together for a performance can be truly moving. I’ve seen some amazing performances, sitting there in awe while I finally got to hear some of my favorite symphonic pieces live. Goosebumps, man.
If you’re in the ‘classical music is boring’ camp, give soundtracks a chance. If you already like soundtracks, I like you. But seriously, classical music is just awesome. It can evoke all sorts of emotions, and tell all sorts of stories. And soundtracks are great for showing how symphonic music can do that, so they’re the perfect introduction.
If only one reader takes a chance on symphonic music after reading this, my band geek side will be satisfied.
All for now,
Do you like symphonic music? Why or why not? What do you think about soundtracks and their ability to reach a wider audience, hopefully bridging the gap?