The space between the notes


Sami Gillette

While the world is diverse in its populations, cultures and languages, there is one aspect that permeates every part of the globe – music. An art form, a political statement, an outlet for anger, an expression of love, or a pure form of celebration – music has all of these purposes and more, no matter the genre. A good beat, a smooth rhythm and a catchy hook can transport listeners and often express the human experience for those who aren’t naturally artistic or vocal.

“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything,” Plato once wrote.

Music can also provide relaxation and stress relief. It would probably shock the average person how much they turn to music as a release of some sort. For the good times and the bad.

Maya Angelou said it eloquently, “Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”

People find such solace through music, no matter the genre. Preferences range greatly. In fact, “What’s your favorite type of music?” is a popular question on a first date. Some may even consider the answer insight into future happiness or a dire warning of complete, irrevocable incompatibility.

One of my favorite recent experiences was attending The Taste of Country Music Festival in Hunter, NY. Country music used to be a staple for me as a child – the songs of LeAnn Rimes, Shania Twain and Tim McGraw still flood my brain with memories. While I did move on to other genres, such as rock, pop and more recently R&B and hip-hop, the festival reminded me that country music can be profound, as well as inspire a great time.

“To the things, I believe in / My faith, your love, our freedom / To the things I can count on / To keep me going strong / Yeah I hold on, I hold on,” sang Dierks Bentley during his performance. This type of experience with friends around and the crowd singing along, connecting to a song that was his, but also ours, is one of the most powerful ways to stay in a moment.

These same type of moments were experienced during the BET Awards, which premiered this Sunday on BET. There was an array of great performances – some of the best are worth replaying over and over again. Yolanda Adams gave an amazing, powerhouse performance when she sang “Jesus is Love” in tribute to Lionel Richie, the BET Awards honoree. Nicki Minaj, Trey Songz, Chris Brown, August Alsina and Beyonce’s performances were also memorable, but with a very different focus. Love, sex and romance anyone?

What was most interesting about the show was the variety of ages and tastes that were able to come together in a celebration of music. New and old artists came together, recognizing their craft but also taking the time to acknowledge artists on the rise.

No matter one’s taste in music, it is there to be enjoyed and serves to bring people together. Love, rebellion, national pride, partying – those themes transcend all genres. One of the strongest abilities of music of any genre is its ability to remind us of our commonalities.