The Meaning of Music: an interpretation

Guest post by Doug Thomas

“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” 

This is what the German poet Berthold Auerbach might have answered had he been asked what the role of music was for him. To me, it seems plausible that music carries a significant meaning in most people’s life. Whether it is for a simple amateur, a true mélomane or a professional musician, it seems to always have a particular role, guiding people in their own existence.

In my experience, music has taken several aspects but three important ones prevail. Music has been part of my daily life for many years and wherever I go, whatever I do, it embellishes my world. It is also a great catharsis, and it is what allows me to compose and create on a regular basis. Most importantly, music is a source of intense pleasure which very few other forms of art have been able to provide me with.

Whenever I get tired of listening to silence, music comes to the rescue. I often see music in a similar way to the French composer Erik Satie – as furniture music. Music that is meant to decorate the environment or have a functional purpose. It is not necessarily music I pay much attention to. There are many situations were music sits in the background; at home on a lazy afternoon, during a dinner with friends or on a simple train journey.

I compose music for a living. In addition to fulfilling my need to create things, composing music acts as a sort of catharsis. It is a way to externalise my deepest feelings and emotions. Although I consider my music as somehow intellectual, the creative process often starts with a feeling. Whether it is the expression of happiness or deep sadness, or the simple appreciation of beauty. There is a splendid satisfaction once a piece of music is composed, a feeling of lightening, a burden which seems to go away.

Above all, I believe that music represents a fantastic source of pleasure. There are not many feelings comparable to the one I get when I hear a new piece of music that suits my tastes. Or the sensation I have when I hear one of my favourite piece performed live. Besides, there has been many scientific studies that have shown how music triggers emotional sensations in the brain.

On a daily basis, music decorates the important moments of my life as well as the most meaningless ones. When I create, music acts as a deliverer of pulses and inspirations. More significantly, when music is at its best, it is a source of intense pleasure which makes the hair on the arms stand up, and gives the sensation that time has stopped for just a few moments.

The British composer Max Richter once said that making art was a way to deal with the problem of being alive. If we perceive the arts as being a toolbox to dealing with life, then in my opinion music is perhaps the ultimate Swiss Army Knife.

Doug Thomas is a French composer and artist based in London.
 
Since founding NOOX in 2014, Doug has released numerous solo projects, including Short Stories, Vol. 1&2, Angles and Cassiopeia. His interest in multi-media collaboration has also led to engagements with choreographers, photographers and visual artists from around the world, including London, New York and Reykjavík.

Doug has studied at the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance in London, as well as with Berklee Online College of Music. Some of his mentors include Jérôme Bechet, Dylan Kay, Audrey Riley, Maurizio Malagnini, Enrica Sciandrone and Stefania Passamonte.

“Music allows me to express ideas and feelings in a unique way. Each piece I compose is an attempt in finding balance between interest and beauty, within the limits of my own language and experience. I like the idea that music can provide us with an alternative to our daily life, whether it completes it, or helps us take some distance from it.”

Doug Thomas appears in a future Meet the Artist interview at www.meettheartist.site