Music has a way of touching people’s souls to be associated with memories, feelings, or relationships. There are certain songs and bands that have marked a time in my life, can help me indulge in or change my moods, and remind me of people I care about. Since I’ve been feeling the lists, here’s another one.
- Vampire Weekend: Around the end of high school it was really popular to listen to “unpopular” or not “mainstream” music because it meant you weren’t following the crowd (aka “hipster”) and knew how to find good, real music or something. I do believe a lot of the stuff played on the radio is bubblegum pop that is only appealing because of its catchiness but that’s another topic. Nevertheless, the first indie band I discovered was Vampire Weekend – apparently classified as rock though they do a lot synth effects – and it continues to be one of my favourite bands to date. I loved their first and second album which remind me of high school days: stretching and warming up in the studio, background music for studying or walking, my parents asking me what the weird high pitched sounds I’m listening to are… Step is one of their recent songs and it it still has the same charm, subtle happiness, and ambiguous lyrics (if you figure them out, let me know) that first drew me in to this style of music.
- Take Five and Unsquare Dance by Dave Brubeck: I was first introduced to jazz music by my dad and not counting vocal works by Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone the instrumentals that struck me the most was Dave Brubeck’s classic Take Five. It was always one of those songs that I recognized and knew the melody to but couldn’t label until middle school when I looked it up on the “What’s that Song” catalogue on the website of our local jazz radio station. Unsquare Dance is of similar tilted quality being written in the odd time signature of 7/4 instead of 5/4 and both pieces have cool bass lines, playful melodies, and the ability to become musical earworms.
- Any piece from a ballet, particularly Tchaikovsky: As you may guess from the blog name, ballet has been a huge part of my life thanks to my introduction to movement paired with music by my mom. I have spent the majorities of my days in the studio, training and rehearsing to beautiful classical works played by live accompanists on the piano. I had the luck to dance in the National Ballet of Canada’s The Nutcracker and with repeated hearings I discovered how complex and diverse a full orchestration can be through Tchaikovsky. He is the composer of other pinnacle ballets such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and Serenade (by American choreographic icon George Balanchine). When I hear music from a ballet, I usually match it up to movements subconsciously, and it reminds me of the capabilities of artistic creativity and the joy of dancing. This coda is just so happy and uplifting how can you not want to dance to it (even though legs are probably falling off after the pas de deux)!
- Sweet Child O Mine and November Rain by Guns n Roses: During my time in London, my roommate and friends were into old and classic rock including my boyfriend to-be. I was first introduced to Ozzy Osbourne, Purple Rain, and Jimi Hendrix by my fellow university colleagues but one song and one band in particular is special to my musical discoveries last year for a reason you may have already guessed. One lazy night in the beginning of getting used to being “more than friends” my boyfriend quoted some lyrics accidentally mixing up these two songs by Guns n Roses. Consequently we listened to them and though I had known Sweet Child O Mine before, it just became so much more meaningful then. Both are good songs made better for my ears for sentimentality.
- Alexander Borodin’s String Quartet No 2: Also last year in London, I had a good friend of mine attend the Royal Academy of Music full of young, talented classical musicians. She played the violin remarkably well and invited us to a small informal chamber music concert they were holding. Before its start, the professor gave an introduction and said that this class was the best first years he has ever heard playing these sophisticated pieces so the bar was set quite high. And they were very good. My friend performed with ease and passionately and it was really inspiring to see artists in action other than the ballet which I was familiar with. One of the pieces that stuck in my head from that night is String Quartet No 2 by Alexander Borodin. There’s a sweet melancholy to it that makes it perfectly nostalgic, so this one tends to bring out many memories, most of them appropriately from London.
Day 6: What band or musician is most important to you?