Happiness Society: Music

Music – both the food of love and revision fuel all at once.

Last week, it was revision week. This week, it is exam week. Therefore a logical deduction is to completely and utterly ignore the entire topic. The Happiness Society send out a happy song every Saturday – and this week the Happiness Society will write about music; maybe to give you some new insights, or reminders, or suggestions. Seeing how we are all busy with those things that shall not be mentioned, however, this column required some teamwork.

Zenobia: philosophy, on repeat.

Here is my approach: when I repeat songs (much to the dismay of anyone on my corridor or in my house) I can still focus on other things; I do not sing along with the lyrics – they simply serve as soundtrack and inspiration to my studies; or, alternatively, laundry and dish-washing procrastination activities. Everyone who knows me has heard Human by The Killers. A happy variation is I’m Yours by Jason Mraz. For the last week I have been listening to New Tomorrow by A Friend in London. Other songs include Portal’s theme song Still Alive, Viva la Vida by Coldplay, and a selection from They Might Be Giants. (Do not judge me solely for this – I have much love for Chopin too.)

Emma: feel the epic sound of requiems.

Happy music is a wonderful thing for sure, but even better I find is a piece – or a song – that can turn a non-happy mood into something far better. For me, there’s very little as powerful for this as grand classical music, the type with a score that takes an entire page to write two bars and makes use not only of orchestras but of the biggest and best orchestras the world can offer. The sort of music where, if life was a film, the hero would be running in slow motion through fountains of lava while lightning crashes in the background and bad guys pursue on dragons. That sort of music.

The odd thing is that a lot of it was not written with the aim of inspiring happiness; a lot of the great music is found in requiems, written for funeral masses. But wherever they came from, there’s nothing better for closing down Facebook, turning off the procrastination and striding out to purposefulness. The happiness I think is a (very much appreciated and worthwhile) side effect. For those of you who like having words to sing along to your dramatic music, may I recommend that you either learn Latin – or at least how to mimic it in a song, which is good enough for most purposes – or find a classical rock band such as Trans-Siberian-Orchestra? A lot of their music is only so-so on the happy front, but there’s the odd gem in there to watch out for.

Quick survey: what is your favourite song, and why?

Music is personal and tastes are changeable. Out of the dozen people asked this question, half were not even able to reply. Activities and moods have favourite songs, or genres – but choosing one out of all of them?

Beethoven’s Ninth. “It’s long, don’t have to change my YouTube list all the time – and probably because it’s about something other than cheesy romance.”

Rachmaninoff – Vocalise or Violin. “It portrays an emotional side of the composer.”

When It Falls by Zero 7. “Because it is freakishly brilliant.”

Gladiator soundtrack – Now we are Free. “It’s really calm, it sounds beautiful and it reminds me of the best bit of an awesome film.”

The Dark of the Matinee by Franz Ferdinand. “The chorus is sung particularly well, and reminds of school discos.”

Comatose by Skillet. “Because it got me through some really rough times and reminds me of my best friend.”

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