Humming between classes, and while scrubbing cars clean at my job after school, many songs stuck in my mind.
Switching to electric guitar from a four-year-old nylon-stringed classical guitar, I started to practice more and more in my family’s basement in the hope of hearing faint shadows of my favorite musical anthems from my own fingers as they clumsily clasped the fret board. The loudness, the silence, and the spaces between notes all took shape and became parts of a vocabulary that words just couldn’t express. But my guitar could. In that time, I learned a lot about the blues, and that rock songs began out of the simple structure of blues song.
The anatomy of a song is made up of the following: The verse, the chorus and the bridge. The song structure that is most commonly used is this:
Take any rock or blues song, and you can usually boil it down to a variation of this formula.
Telling the beginning of the story in your preferred poetic language comprises the Verse. These words help set the feeling for how the rhythm flows.
The Bridge is the part that dramatically breaks in the latter two-thirds of the song. It’s meant for just that…a pause or a change of scenery to add to the depth of the song. From there, it returns to the part of the song that people remember the most: the chorus.
The Chorus is interspersed throughout the structure of a song, and is usually the most recalled part of the song. The verse and bridge exist to support the catchy rhythms and crescendo climaxes of the Chorus. Not only is the rhythm memorable, but a good chorus is accentuated by words we all seem to remember—even after one listen.
The songs we hear make us aware of an internal desire to sing along. Maybe this is the first experience that introduces us to our connection between our unseen hearts and an outside force. It can be tough to define why we like one musical style over another. We are bound by the enjoyment and gravitational pull of a song, becoming a part of it ourselves for a minute or two. Do you remember the songs that you’ve sung at the top of your lungs in your car, or in the shower? What part of the song did you probably sing the loudest? Well, the Chorus, of course!
No matter where I listen to live music, whether it be an impromptu band session, a concert, or a church meeting, it’s the choruses of each song that are the most passionately sung by the audience with the band. It holds the most power, volume, and dynamic. What an overwhelming feeling to sing the same lyrics along with other people all at the same time! It’s as if we belong together to something bigger simply by singing…at least for a moment.
Everyone has sung alone in the car. Maybe it is fear of judgment that keeps us behind closed doors with our beloved musical choices. There are other reasons why we might not sing away from home, save for concerts and church. We fear that people are secretly holding a scorecard behind their backs just waiting for us to sing a wrong note, raise a score above their heads, like a judge during a diving competition. We are scared and fearful of the opinions of others, and that is no way to live. If what you have to say is important, then get it out! Don’t care about what others would think! Create! Create! Create!
When you know that the words to the Chorus of YOUR LIFE sound great, you should let YOUR LIFE sing them as loud as possible.
There is a connectedness between our words and lifestyle. When we begin living our lives using sound and action together, other people will want to know what our source of inspiration is. St. Francis had many followers who copied the way he lived because they wanted to be like him in lifestyle. He had found the connection between himself and God, and the way he lived that out was the Chorus of his life. He lived passionately, not halfheartedly, chasing after a relationship with Jesus.
Regrettably, I’ve heard performances where the song just felt fake, pushed, and… cheesy. Somehow during those three and a half minutes, I felt like I wasn’t really hearing the artist’s real voice, or their creativity. Conversely, there are concerts and churches where songs were sung with the purest of passions. Without all the studio cleanliness of perfect, Pro-Tooled voices, the sounds and songs directed toward God were, strangely, far more joyful and inspiring.
I believe these pure sounds begin in honest, humble hearts; for it’s the life we live from our hearts that truly matters. The heart drives us to do things that maybe we haven’t done before. It’s like the process of learning to ride a bicycle. First a kid is on a tricycle, then a smaller bike with training wheels. Then, off come the training wheels, creating the opportunity for them to ride in grown-up, two-wheeled freedom. Ultimately, why the church shouts and calls towards God is that they hope and trust that he can hear them. Our hearts make us want to connect with something bigger than us, and that is worth living for.
In short, we are mentally, emotionally, even spiritually moved by the creative medium of sound.
This is an excerpt from The Soundtrack of Your Life
available from Amazon.com in print or ebook