The essence of music is a rather philosophical concept with no real right or wrong, but for a musician to ask the question and find an answer that resonates personally can bring a different depth into the music created.
I had an experience with music that gave me insight into the spiritual value of music. I was driving back from Los Angeles to Fairfield, Iowa and put up camp north of St George in Utah. It was a beautiful place with mountains nearby, sagebrush growing around me with a couple of juniper trees right by the tent. There was a strong wind blowing and as dusk turned into night, I became slightly frightened for various reasons.
Would the wind become a storm and blow the tent away? Would someone with ill intentions walk by the tent? Would a rattlesnake or other dangerous animal attack me? None of these made sense and before setting camp I had seen a beautiful double rainbow in the sunset and a bird had guided me to the site. Nature was supporting me, yet I could feel unease from Her.
I opened my guitar case and was about to play a few songs when I could feel the tension between Nature and the guitar. This instrument was not native to the Land and the people who had brought it with them caused much suffering. Instead, I picked up a Native American flute I had received as a gift from Andreas, my older brother.
Playing the flute made me feel connected in a way the guitar could not. A wooden flute is closer to nature somehow, since it is just a hollow branch with some holes and decorations. I am still learning to play the flute and know a few simple tunes, and these melodies felt soothing to me. It was as if Nature could receive them without the memory of pain.
The next night when I was camping in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, I had the same experience. My guitar didn't resonate as well with my surroundings as the Native American flute. Maybe because I was by myself, Nature was my only audience and thus all my feedback came from Her.
To me, the essence of music is an offering, a way to connect with the Divine, it whatever form we perceive it. Through music I have felt more connected to myself, to other people, to Nature and to God. Music is a language spoken by all of Creation and that is the real strength of it, to me. Even if I play in an empty room, I feel like there is someone listening.
Whether you are a musician or someone who just enjoys listening to music, I would ask you to look deeper into the value and effect of music, as it relates to you. Is there a subtle connection, a unique way of expressing your inner world, or just a feeling you can't put words to?
What is the essence of music to you?
Read Minca Borg's answer to this question in her blog.