If you could listen to only five musical artists or groups for the rest of your life,
which five would you pick?
Good golly, Miss Molly… five?
Where do I start?
- How about the lyrics?
- If instrumental, is it classical? Pop?
- Full orchestra or accompanied soloist?
- Secular or inspirational?
- What is the catalog of work – varied (with seasonal as well as assorted sounds) or a whole lot of the same?
- Should I save a slot for future candidates?
Well, my list-of-5 is like a revolving door of talent and sound. My options are limitless and the chances of me ever settling on five is unlikely, if not impossible.
But, as I mentally sorted through the songs and artists I include in every playlist, I discovered a common element: beautiful, rich, and deep harmonies.
That isn’t to say I don’t like solo work. I find simple melodies and accompaniments charming and comforting. But even when listening to a solo artist, I don’t sing the melody with them. No, I’m singing right alongside them, making beautiful music together, not in unison, but in prefect harmony.
And, being a musical snob of sorts, when I hear harmonies performed badly, when the tenor is too loud or the alto off pitch, I wince and cringe. And hope for a merciful finish.
So what is it about really good groups? What do they have or do that make those beautiful, deep, and rich harmonies so sumptuous?
It’s simple, really. They have a singular goal. A unified focus.
They know what is the most important and leave their egos at the door.
In order for any group of musicians to achieve true harmony, each musician must be willing to do whatever it takes to create a seamless and record-worthy finished product. Even those who carry the melody must sing or play with an open ear and sensitive touch or voice or breath. Because when true harmony is achieved, every single part is of equal importance. When true harmony is heard, every single part is cherished.
When true harmony is achieved, everyone is at the same place in the score at the same time. You can’t go faster and I can’t start in the middle. The French horn can’t get fancy. The tenor can’t go for coffee.
When true harmony is achieved, the musicians are unified. They aren’t playing in unison, where everyone just plays or sings the melody. They aren’t even always all playing all the time. But they are united in the goal: to create something memorable for the benefit of both them and their listeners.
My lovelies, if our society were a band, it would not even make my top 100, let alone the top 5.
It’s not because we, as individuals, don’t agree on everything. Think about it… Although a whole choir or band or orchestra singing or playing in unison is beautiful and effective, I wait almost breathlessly for their return to the richness and beauty of deep harmonies. I’ll bet you do, too.
We don’t want or need a world of unison. By and large, we love us some good harmonies.
I cannot watch or hear this song, For Good, without sobbing. Truly just breaking down into big tears. And maybe it’s the words, a lyrical tribute to forgiveness and friendship and understanding. But I know that without the two voices – back and forth, solo, duet, unison, harmony – without the singular focus of beauty and light, this song would not be half of what it is.
If either of these dynamic, talented, glorious vocalists had decided her part was more important, or sang at the top of her voice, or quit in the middle, the performance would have been ruined.
But both vocalists wanted more than anything for it to be beautiful. Both of them.
My lovelies, we don’t need to sing in unison all the time. We don’t need to agree on everything.
Yes, yes, absolutely – the rare and well-placed melody played or sung in unison by a few or many can be powerful. And yes, absolutely – united peace and love would go a long way to solving some big world problems.
I am so weary of the wranglings of this world, I can hardly bear to wake up. I am so sick of my cause is more important, more spiritual, more Biblical than yours, I wish I could move to anywhere the news does not reach. I am so tired of self-promotion and self-protection, of maintaining our status quo at the expense of the entire world, of wealth and power being more valuable than love and grace.
I don’t think I can take another day of
Me not you.
Us not them.
I pray a lot, but not enough. And I’m doing some soul-searching about issues currently troubling my soul (stay tuned).
But right now I need to spend more time on my knees, both literally and figuratively, in deep conversations with Jesus about these things. I need to unscramble the mash-up of selfless philanthropy and blatant greed, humble spirits and religious bigots, sweet light and ominous dark we call our society.
Can I listen to the dissonance and do my part to help us return to harmony?
Can I play and sing with you in our section of the world with a unified goal? A singular focus?
Can we, if nothing else, find our list of 5 for the world? How about we start with
Any suggestions for the other two?