Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Power of Music - of The Arts

I was driving from the pool to work today, listening to NPR. There was a rerun of a story I heard driving home after work last night, and then a new program came on. Traffic was heavy on I-84 so my focus shifted to the road and away from the story, though I caught pieces of it.

When I merged onto I-5 South, I had a couple of miles until the next bottleneck in my journey and tuned in to the story again. Part of the problem is that I couldn't quite catch where they were talking about on the radio.

But I did catch that they were talking about music being banned. It had started as a ban on "satanic" music, meaning any type of music which conflicted with their Islamic beliefs (meaning from the government's view), which soon became any type of music in this country whose name I didn't know.

The name of the country or of a group was mentioned, finally, just as I hit the second congested part of my drive, where I have to make a crazy jog from I-5 South onto I-405 North for a few feet and then this weird overpass onramp to Highway 26 West. It doesn't matter the time of day, there is always some type of backup or traffic interference there, and there was a minimal slow down. So when the country was mentioned, and it wasn't one I was familiar with so I didn't quite catch it, it slipped away.

But when I was safely on 26 and in the lane I wanted I could focus, again. And I caught the end of the story with a festival organizer talking about the life of musicians in this country.

He talked about them having to hide their instruments. If they wanted to play music they had to do it very, very quietly with all drapes and windows closed and no neighbors home; and even that was extremely risky. Even mobile phone ringtones were banned, and of course any type of music players - digital or otherwise.

I was thinking about this and at the same time I was thinking about the people who doubt the power of music. Or of any of the arts. And here was a government who thinks that the music is so powerful that it will corrupt an entire country so they've banned it all.

Music - and art, writing, dance, theater, creativity - heals. It teaches. It gives us cause for and enhances celebration. It calms us and excites us and eases our fears. It puts us to sleep and it wakes us up. Creativity gives us purpose and goals and reasons to keep on, well, keeping on. Music and writing and all types of creative activity help us explore and express our experiences.


I was able to find the country with the total music ban: Mali. Click on the picturesk and the one headline, of Mali musicians below to read some articles about this situation. And, yes, I know there are other places where music and writing and art have been banned. But this is what I learned today. And it struck me as powerful and as something more to explore.

cool planet. on the line.

militants declare war on music
about muscian, Keletigui Diabate

... and a video of Mali music to listen to. Beautiful. ..