Music and me

Music plays an important part of my life in many ways. I play a number of instruments – with varying degrees of proficiency, I sing, I write songs, and I enjoy listening to music. Also one of current favourite RPGs is powered by music. 

So I’ll go through each in a little detail, looking at how it impacts on my depression and day to day life. So listening to music – this is something most people do at times. I listen to most music at work – I’m fortunate enough to work in a back office function where we’re allowed to listen to our phones/I-pods through headphones, as long as it doesn’t impact on our work, and that we still answer our phones promptly. Because of this I often only plug in one ear bud, rather than both. This allows me to hear what’s going on around me quite clearly, whilst still listening to my music. Admittedly this has made songs a bit odd from time to time, you can miss little bits or the balance can be out, and in one case the band (Queen) had all the vocal output in the left ear, and all the instrumental in the right – meaning no lyrics. However when certain songs, that mean a lot to me, come on, I’ll add the other earplug to enjoy them in all their glory. I’ve just done that as I type as ‘Invincible’ by Muse has just come on and that track and whole album ties in to an important part of our (H and my) lives. Which nicely brings me on to the effect listening to music can have on me. Songs are great memory triggers – they can throw you (or me anyway) right into the emotions of a certain time, that in some way the song is inextricably linked to. These can be happy memories, incredibly sad memories and everything in-between. A song can make me smile, let out a contented breathe, make me angry and bring tears to my eyes. Now I do get quite extreme emotional reactions to some songs, maybe more than others, maybe not. I don’t know. You might wonder why I listen to songs that can make me sad, make me cry? My answer is fairly simple, every one of those songs came from a less happy part of my life, but I survived whatever those times were, and am still here. They’re events I got through and that helped make me the person I am today – and as I’ve mentioned before – I like who I am.

Playing and performing music. Performing is probably a bit too strong a word, H and I only usually play for each other, H’s family if we’re with them and occasionally to friends who are over. Although we both like to play, and as a rule try to do a couple of songs every day, we don’t like to force our music onto others – we will only play when friends are around if they ask (or we’re really drunk!). Playing and singing just makes me feel good. It’s a sense of achievement, it also improves my playing and singing – the more I do of both, the better they get. As a rule we play cover versions of songs – even though we’ve both written a number of songs. We have our style of playing – and we predominantly use acoustic guitars and ukuleles so all of our versions can probably be identified as being us – we tend to have a ‘sound’. Overall it’s that sense of achievement – on my down days I don’t feel like I’ll get anything done, so sitting down and getting through just a song or two shows that I can. It’s also something we do together. Although one of us will tend to take the lead in a song we’re playing usually the other accompanies in some way, so it’s a great activity for the two of us together. I can’t say whether I enjoy singing or playing more though. It really depends on the day and my mood. I can get very down on my own voice, and often think it sounds terrible – although H (and others) assure me it doesn’t. I guess I still lack confidence in my abilities and that’s why playing daily helps. The more I do it, the better I get, and I can hear the improvements as well.

Writing music – or at least songs. I’ve not written very many songs yet, I’ve probably got about 4 or 5 completed, with 2 or 3 partially written, and a few more ideas bouncing around my head. I tend to be more a lyricist than a music writer. I’ll come up with the words, may play around on a guitar and think ‘that’s a nice chord, I want to use that’, but generally H writes the actual tune for my songs, or matches the chords to the tune I’m singing – they’re much better at that than me. I pour a lot of me and a lot of my experiences into my songs. This tends to mean I find it easier to write sad songs rather than happy songs – I have plenty of happy memories, but as mentioned in a previous blog, when I’m good mentally I struggle creatively. I’m working on writing more happier songs, as I feel it’ll help me in the long run.

Music in games – as mentioned above, one of my current favourite RPGs is Ribbon Drive. It takes the concept of a road trip, with music being used to pick the type of road trip, the characters and then driving play. This use of music allows me to hit real highs and lows emotionally in games (something which I love to do). As the game is played around playlists I often create new playlists as I listen to music. If I hear a song and think it would work in Ribbon Drive I’ll either start a new playlist or fit it into one in progress – at any one time I have 3-4 playlists under construction, some of which will probably never be played, but I find it a rewarding exercise just to create them.

 So music is very important to me, it helps with my mental wellbeing and now also plays a big part in my gaming life. I’m off now to listen to my Iphone music on shuffle all – not knowing what’s coming next makes the listening all the more interesting for me.

 Thanks for reading and stay safe all.

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Author: wraithben

I'm Ben, early 40's and work as a Real Time Analyst in a call centre in the South West of England. In my spare time amongst other things I like to game - computer games, board games and most of all RPG's and Theatre Style LARPS. I also suffer from Chronic Depression.

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