Where words fail, music speaks

Ok, I am guilty of copying that quote by Hans Christian Andersen. But the reason that is there in the title should become obvious if you only read on.

The majority of the songs in my playlist are without lyrics and most of those that do have lyrics would have them playing inconsequential roles. I don’t listen to a lot of music but in the little that I do listen, I generally tend to lean a lot towards music that is just that, music. No lyrics to distract me, no misheard lyrics to confound me. But I don’t mean to say that there is no song with good lyrics or that lyrics don’t ever add to the essence of songs. Lyrics can be an amazing addition to music but I find these to be rarities sprinkled sparsely in the sea of below par lyrics and below par delivery. All I want to say here is that for me personally, music is enough and in many situations preferred over the chatter of lyrics.

I am a strong believer lyrics aren’t really mandatory. Music is powerful enough without even a single word being uttered. Again I poach on someone else’s words:

Music conveys its message by itself; without requiring the tool of language to do so.

Music is one of the best mediums for the propagation of emotions. There is no emotion that music can’t convey. There is hence essentially nothing that music can’t do. It is an cornucopia of sensations. Everything is a sound. Even silence can be used. That is where the beauty lies, in its universality. There is no language restriction, no dependence on English or French or Hindi or whatever. Every living thing understands music. The tripping of the triggers will happen freely without any interference from language.

I’ll try to give a few examples of awesome “pure-music” songs and some that get messed up just due to their lyrics (or their delivery). Take Arrival of the Birds by the Cinematic Orchestra or Battle without Honor or Humanity by Tomoyasu Hotei. Although both the songs are quite different in terms of their vibes both are brilliant examples of achieving perfection without lyrics. I should emphasis that these are just two examples off the top of my head and with a little thought I might be able to provide better examples. But songs like these seem perfect when you hear them, they don’t need anything more. An example where I prefer not to have lyrics is Galvanize by Chemical Brothers. The instrumental music is very catchy but the lyrics are just repetitively and needlessly pollute the song’s instrumental music. Now obviously this distinction of types of songs isn’t a very strict one. One could take Lupe Fiasco‘s Word’s I Never Said, which an example that is on borderline of the two categories that I made. I like it both with and without the lyrics depending on my mood.

Now before you question my sample space of songs let me tell you that for me songs need to have good music. Without that music to it, without that backbone songs become just poems, which have forever confounded me. Remove the music and it isn’t music for me anymore. It is only when I like the music that I am ever able to focus on the lyrics and meanings and try to reach anywhere with them. My ears first try to find music even in the rendering of the lyrics. Only when it is satisfied do the sounds even reach my brain for interpretation. Finding songs that satisfy all my music requirements and having good lyrics sometimes proves to be a Herculean task.

PS:This whole thing was written partly as an answer to all the people who keep asking me why I listen to Dubstep and EDM and not to “normal” songs. The other reason for writing this is to get some suggestions that might please my eardrums.


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