Music Notes: Mood Music

Growing up, I enjoyed watching programs like Soul Train and American Bandstand. These were the shows where we heard the newest tunes, watched our favorite artists perform (even if they were lip-syncing), and learned the latest dances. C’mon…y’all know you stood in front of the television trying to replicate the newest moves on Soul Train! This particular Soul Train line is one of my favorites:

I also remember the record-rating segment of American Bandstand. It got to the point where everyone said the same thing when asked how they liked a song…”It’s got a great beat and it’s easy to dance to!”

You will never hear a true audiophile utter those words about a good song. I started thinking about the basic elements of a song – lyrics and musical arrangement. Lyrics – for the non-musician that I am – are the first impression of a song. And as in social situations, first impressions are lasting! When Maxwell’s BLACKSummers’night was first released, I was visiting my mother in Florida. I ran to Target and picked up my copy. But I didn’t listen to it for a week, until I was back at home in New York. I spent the rest of my Florida vacation just reading the lyrics and the liner notes, my favorite pastime (see When I Fell in Love With Music: Songs in the Key of Life) I was entranced by the poetry in his lyrics. So by the time I got to listen to the music, I was already hooked.

Musical arrangement – As a non-musician, arrangements were usually secondary. Although of late, I have become much more in tune with them. And YES, I may get sucked in by a nice beat, but in general, all the musical elements must sit well with me in order for me to really enjoy a tune.

Music IS mood. It can put you in a different state of mind. It can take you where you want to go. Sometimes I listen to a particular genre or artist because I need to calm down or relax – so I’ll tune in to some chill or ambient vibes like Afterlife or The Cinematic Orchestra. I may need to expend some energy, workout or maybe I just need a pick-up, so I’ll turn to some dub-step or house music. MJ Cole and Ten City usually do the trick! If I feel like singing, I’ll usually play some funk or old school – like Slave or Ohio Players – and sing my heart out! LOL

What does music do for you?

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