By Monica Cai:
I take pride in my extensive collection of hip hop, pop, rap and the typical middle school “alternative” rock, but I would have to say the hidden gem of my iTunes library is probably the music no one listens to. On a cloudy day or when I’m in the mood to be inspired, I look to classical music and the multiple theatrical scores I own. These are the tunes with no words and lots of instruments—the type of music I would be called a dork for listening to.
[pullquote]These are the tunes with no words and lots of instruments—the type of music I would be called a dork for listening to.[/pullquote]
As a pianist, my favorite type of classical music to listen to is played on the piano. I like opening up Pandora, selecting “River Flows In You” by Yiruma and seeing what comes up. The typical music that pops up is flowing, emotional, melodic pieces that would accompany a scene in a movie where the guy finally tells the girl he loves her, or when a little boy and his soldier father are finally reunited. It is sad, wistful, joyous and nostalgic all at the same time and perfect for when I am in a particularly reflective mood.
I also love listening to the music that I have played before—the masterpieces of composers like Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and my personal favorite, Chopin. Beethoven and Mozart are for when I’m feeling a energetic and want to keep my spirits up, while Chopin is for those chilly winter afternoons where all I want to do is snuggle with my Snuggie and watch “Love Actually.”
Whenever I need inspiration, I look to scores from film soundtracks. My personal favorites are those from the “Harry Potter” series, the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series and “The Chronicles of Narnia” series, all of which involve lots of strings, my second favorite instruments. In each movie soundtrack, you’re sure to find a few incredibly uplifting songs, whether it be “Battle” by Harry Gregson-Williams (“Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”) or “Statues” by Alexandre Desplat (“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two”). Crank the volume up while listening to these songs, and you’re sure to feel like you can do anything. The music envelops and overwhelms you with its deep, overdrawn notes and quickening rhythms. For a second, it’s like you’re fighting to the death or leading a weary expedition home. It can make whatever you are doing seem deep and meaningful, which is why I usually listen to scores while I write my college essays.
We never see this type of music on, say, iTunes’ top downloads, but it’s equally as amazing and powerful as radio hits. It serves a different purpose from making us want to dance or pumping us up, but in my opinion, the role it plays is so much more important. It stirs emotions, brings forth memories and can make listeners feel like there’s something more in front of them than just a computer screen and some MP3 files. It is music that touches the soul, as cheesy as that sounds, and the most valuable part of my iTunes collection.