Strike a Chord

Do you play an instrument? Is there a musical instrument whose sound you find particularly pleasing? Tell us a story about your experience or relationship with an instrument of your choice.

I love music. I love that songs can tell stories not just with the words they say but how they say them and I love that they can provide better ways of saying the things that you’re thinking. Even this last week I heard a new song and listened to all the lyrics and I thought “Yes, that’s exactly what I’m thinking too!”.

One of my favourite things to do is to see music played live. I would go to a gig every night if I could but can equally appreciate a busker in the street. One of my favourite things about watching a live musical performance is that moment where you know the artist fully understands and is at one with their song.

Watching my recording of last night’s X-Factor I’m continuously annoyed by contestants talking of making songs “their own”. One of them was singing Amy Winehouse’s Love is a Losing Game. The song was initially produced by Mark Ronson, so the contestant rang him up for advice – “just make it your own”. OH, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!

While I hate the lack of originality and the hypocrisy of the advice for contestants on a talent show exclusively singing covers, I do understand the sentiment. And yes, because of what I think music can do, I have tried to learn to play instruments myself.

I first bought a keyboard. I love piano and think it’s probably under-utilised in current popular music. Artists will play a song only with an acoustic guitar, but not many will play just a piano. I started learning chords, some exercises and some simple pieces and started messing about making up bits and bobs from what I’d learnt until one day I realised I’d stumbled across What I’ve Done by Linkin Park.

Guitars are a bit more versatile so after winning a few hundred pounds on a premium bond I went to get myself one of those and started in much the same way as with the keyboard. I had some lessons but then started travelling every week with work and was never able to fit everything I wanted to do into a weekend. I can play a few songs and find tabs far easier to pick up than sheet music.

I’m going to go back to learning an instrument. Whether that’s piano or guitar I don’t know yet!

Give me something to believe in,
A breath from the breathing.
So write it down,
I don’t think that I’ll close my eyes
‘Cause lately I’m not dreaming
So what’s the point in sleeping?
It’s just that at night,
I’ve got nowhere to hide
So I write you a lullaby,
A lullaby.

Hammers and Strings (A Lullaby) by Jack’s Mannequin

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