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Music and Community: Rediscovering our lost connection with each other

For ages, mankind has yearned for togetherness and the feeling of communion, whether it be between two individuals on an intimate physical plain, or be it in the form of a gathering or a festival. This feeling of community is an aspect which has been so heavily respected and emphasized in the tree of evolution that it has stuck around since generations. One of the best ways in which communities are held together is of course through communication. On the other hand, if we are to go more specifically into the aspect of community and communication, music has been a tool which has acted as the metaphorical glue that holds a society or a community together. It is a form of communication which has the power to redefine the concept of “connection” itself. For instance, if I were to find myself in the

Picture this, I find myself in the savannahs of Africa with nothing but my Djembe slung across my shoulder. As I trudge along, I am met with the tribes that inhabit these regions, complete with painted faces, clothes made out of animal skin and complacent, calm faces. At first glance, I feel like an alien in a planet that I have just crashed on, where I have no clue as to how to connect with the people and have no understanding whatsoever about the way in which they interact, commune or even reciprocate. Amidst the confusion and panic, I am escorted to a circle of individuals with similar percussion instruments like the Djembe that I am carrying. Slowly, as they wait and watch with their instruments, I place my hands on the skin of my Djembe, shy like a child in front of a classroom having to introduce himself. I then let my hands and the drum do the talking, filling the air with rhythmic vibrations, synonymous with the vibrations that fill the air when a bird calls out to showcase its presence in the still of the forest.

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Suddenly, as if reaching a point of understanding, the men and women around me start hitting the skins of their instruments, reciprocating my feelings of isolation and disdain. Slowly, one of them adds a few accents, while another adds a bit more speed to the tempo¬†while I find myself being swept by the energy into a zone that I had only heard about. Soon, I have no control over what I am playing and my feelings of isolation turn into one of almost divine harmony, “divine” due to the fact that the intense synchronicity between us is unparalleled to anything I have experienced before. It is as if the tribe took me by the hand and showered me with feelings of empathy such that there was no distinction between us anymore, until all that could be heard were the echoes of the drums setting into the night, illuminated by the glow of the embers churning themselves into a great bonfire.

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The ability that music has in acting as a universal language is something unparalleled and more advanced than any form of communication that has been developed to this date. Through music, one can break beyond the bounds of culture, race, nationality, gender and other limitations in a very literal sense. We need to embrace the fact that through music, we can comprehend the magic of true connection, something that we have lost in an age where smartphones seem to be our most preferred mode of communication. Music has the ability to communicate complex feelings and emotions between people to such an intense extent that our notion of communication itself lies at the verge of being completely obsolete.

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If we open ourselves to the power of music and let ourselves be affected by the intensity of it, we open ourselves to a mode of communication which can help in creating as well as sustaining communities. If we take out time for ourselves and indulge in gatherings and communions where the only language being spoken is music, we stand to behold a community-building process which has the power to shatter the shackles of societal separations and connect us back to our primitive yearning to be one, to be together, be to whole again.

Image Sources: [1], [2], [3]

About Ashwin Ramesh

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