The Magic of Music

By: Danny Kutin  |  May 27, 2024

By Danny Kutin, Entertainment Manager 

Music. It surrounds us wherever we go. Whether you are walking down the street and hear it playing on speakers on the sidewalk, as background noise in a store or an elevator, or through headphones in your ears while working, there is rarely a moment when music cannot be heard. 

Besides just listening to music passively, people often spend hours simply listening to songs they enjoy or attending concerts. There is such a broad variety of music in this world, across countless genres that often sound entirely different from one another. Some songs bring people to tears, and some give people boundless energy. Clearly, music has a special quality, and I intend to explain why it holds this power and how it shows itself in our world today.

To begin, let us first examine how an individual interacts with music. On the surface level, music may be viewed purely as noise. Therefore, most people simply find certain types of music to be interesting. For example, many people find certain lyrics relatable, intelligent, or comedic, and some people connect to a catchy riff, impressive solo, or beautiful harmonies. Personally, when I find a song that I like, I listen to it on repeat for weeks, with a new part of the song standing out to me each time. Music has the ability to stimulate the brain, and a person can learn to pick apart the different instruments that make up a song. 

Moving deeper than noise, music elicits emotions from the listener. When there are inspirational or emotional lyrics that resonate with the listener, it brings out joy, sorrow, excitement, or discomfort. These emotions can also be strongly felt in instrumental music, not requiring a vocalist to tell you how to feel. One does not need to have watched the Pirates of the Caribbean movies to feel the mystery and suspense of Hanz Zimmer’s “Mermaids” (seriously, listen to this), nor do they need to have watched Lord of the Rings to feel the darkness and sorrow present in Howard Shore’s “Gollum’s Song” (although you would be doing yourself a disservice by not watching this trilogy). Through pure sound, music can convey intense emotions that any individual can experience.

While analyzing the individual’s interactions with music is important, the communal aspect of music must also be addressed. Appreciating music as a group can be an incredible bonding experience. Going to a concert with friends is a commonly enjoyed activity that strengthens such relationships, and the discussion of a popular artist’s new album is a frequent conversation topic that connects people over their shared interests. Furthermore, many people enjoy singing along to songs together while in the car, at a karaoke night, or when sitting around a campfire. And I haven’t even mentioned religious experiences such as a kumzits or the songs that are incorporated into Jewish prayer or wedding ceremonies, both happy and sad. People join together in these moments and gain closer connections to one another through musical experiences.

As one of the presidents of the YU Music Club, I have personally seen the impact music has had on the musicians in the club as well as on audience members, who simply listen to and watch their performances. When I started the YU Band Club in the fall semester of 2022, I was overwhelmed by the number of people who signed up to play in a band. The musical experience of these students ranged from 15 years to mere weeks, but all were passionate about music and wished to take time out of their busy schedules to prepare songs with their bands. We had nine bands perform at this year’s and last year’s Battle of the Bands which truly exemplified the dedication of YU’s students to creating a space for music to thrive.

I have been told personally by musicians in YU that being a part of a band, even if they wouldn’t perform, is an extremely meaningful experience for them. I certainly feel that way myself. When you play music with a group, a connection forms that is deeper than words. Every note is felt, and every change causes people to shift and adjust. When a person plays in a group, they become part of a whole. A band knows it has reached a high level when it can improvise and communicate with a simple glance or a subtle gesture.

Music is a universal language that brings people together, no matter their background, and musicians can play with people from across the world, just as listeners can bond over music with people they have never met before. Some of my best interactions with strangers have been at concerts while waiting for a show to begin.

In YU, the connection brought by music is not limited to those in bands, as we had dramatic turnout to the Open Mic Night and Battle of the Bands. People have a desire to hear music and experience it with others, no matter if they have any musical background or not. Music speaks to all of us in a different way, but brings everyone together. I have seen how music affects the people around me, yet it is so quickly discounted by people who never stop to think about its unique power, which is an extremely powerful force for good.

For me, music has always had a tangible effect, focusing my mind and evoking intense emotions. I can easily say that I have always felt most comfortable when I am behind a drum kit.

To end, I would like to quote the fortune cookie I ate at Chop Chop last night (not making this up): “Embrace the beauty of music’s ability to express the inexpressible.”