Music as Soundtrack to Life

24 April 2018 Comments Off on Music as Soundtrack to Life

BY MERT ENEY (LAW/IV)
mert.eney@ug.bilkent.edu.tr

Music, unlike other works of art, can be experienced instantly – it doesn’t require much involvement apart from lending an ear. Where films require your undivided attention for roughly two hours, or books demand your absolute focus on their literary details over weeks, music asks only three to six minutes of your day – you can listen to it on the road, while studying or even while talking. This very fact makes the experience gain a quality of multiplicity, where we, as listeners, have the power to choose our approach to it. In my opinion, music is best used as a soundtrack to one’s life – a means to reach your personal ends. Only in this way does music reach its ultimate purpose – providing us access to ourselves.
The auditory sensation serves a unique cognitive function. It not only creates waves of physical reaction (tapping your foot or dancing to the rhythm) but also allows you to connect with yourself. It opens a door for contemplation, for recognition and self-awareness. My favorite albums are the ones that lead me to understand my life a bit better than I can on my own – they serve as the gatekeepers to my most prized opinions and most intimate feelings. I feel like music enables exactly this access to the innermost parts of your sentience and existence. This accessibility is only seldom granted, and I believe the admittance is easier when certain songs became synonymous with certain parts of your life. In this way, these songs can be reminders of your thoughts and emotions, a pathway to becoming reacquainted with the person you once were.
It was 2011 when I discovered The xx. I can’t remember for sure the exact season, or the events of the year as a whole, but I can remember how it felt. The experience opened a door to myself, in the future, waiting for me in the distance. I finally figured out how I could distinguish myself from the monochromatic identity of my high school. Here was a band, completely unknown, existing in the threshold of people’s consciousness, waiting to break into the mainstream. And I had discovered them before the tide came, and this made all the difference. Their self-titled debut album has since become one of my special favorites, and each time I listen to it, from beginning to end, I’m overcome with the same feeling I had when I was fifteen – a definitive coolness. The album never feels retrograde, or out of time, for I’ve moved it beyond time and space with continuous labor.
Some albums, on the other hand, are affixed not to a feeling, but to a certain time and space. Wild Nothing’s “Nocturne” is one such album for me, and perhaps the most immediately important. When I listen to the steady, gazing waves of its sound, I get lost in its dreamy landscape, somewhere in between time and memory, of myself and my past selves. I get the notion that I’m on the intercity bus again, to İstanbul, tiptoeing between sleeping and being awake. The album’s irreplaceable soundscape opens a door to my senior year in high school, to simpler and, at once, more complex times.
Precisely because of its ontological quality, and its very notion of aestheticism, music is the most functional art to accompany our lives. When we take it upon ourselves to actively engage with songs, to try and make them soundtracks to our lives, we gain access to ourselves – arguably the most important personal experience we can have.