Music : Analogies for Life, Love, and Relationships

I've always been a fan of using analogies in my communication. In my way of explaining things I always try to find a topic that is relevant to the person I'm talking to and then use that topic to explain a certain concept.

Obviously, the analogy can never suffice as a complete definition of the concept that I'm trying to explain, but the idea is to try and use a 'familiar experience' to give you something that you can relate to my experience of the topic at hand.

So, with that being said, here's a page full of concepts that I have found in music which relate to what I deem to be some of the most important topics in life.



Knowing the Composer


There's a lot of music all around us all the time: in shopping malls, elevators, radio stations, television, games, social media videos, etc. Most of the time the music kinda goes unnoticed, but there are a few songs that instantly grab our attention. One of the things that give a song sentimental value is when it reminds you of a specific experience you had (like a first dance, or that one specific summer holiday), but for those of us who are fortunate enough to be good friends with the original writers or composers of the music, the songs have an extra sense of value. If you know the composer well enough then you can see how the music that they compose is born out of who they are or how they experience and uniquely express things, so even when their songs aren't written or performed in your preferred style or genre of music, you still value their expression in the music.


I have found this to be true in life as well. There's a lot of "life" happening all around us all the time. We don't really pay attention to most of it but every now and then there's something really beautiful that catches our eye. However, if you are good friends with the original Creator of life then you are likely to value His expression in every little detail of life so much more... even the parts that may not be to your taste or preference.



Social Interaction


As a musician, I have spent many hours alone in my practice room developing my craft on my instrument. This is something that comes with the territory of being a full-time musician. However, contrary to many people's belief, the reason I spend so many hours practising and refining my skill as a drummer is not just for my own personal benefit. My abilities, in a sense, only "come to life" within the context of a band. If I spend thousands of hours growing my abilities but I simply use them to perform on my own then the end result may be impressive, but if I take my skill and I use it in a band context where I can empower other great musicians to do what they do best the end result very often turns out to be magical!

In the context of life, it's one thing to spend a lot of hours working very hard to "get to the top", but even though being at the top can seem impressive for a little while, the real life-changing reward and sense of significance comes from empowering others to do what they do best.


On a different note, in my drum career, there have been two main environments in which I make music: the recording studio, and live on-stage performances. These two environments are very different in a lot of different ways.

The studio environment is very critical. Every time I go into a studio it feels like my playing is put under a magnifying glass. It's also a very clinical environment with very little margin for error but with the way most of us record into a computer program with the option of editing and drop-in's it can also be a fairly "safe" environment where mistakes are easy to fix. The downside to recording is very often that the musicians don't get to interact with each other the way they normally would on stage. Even if they all record simultaneously in the same room, there's still that clinical click track and the lack of response from an audience.

I have found that there is a very different energy amongst the musicians on stage during a live concert. It's often a bit messier, and there are no "redo's" with a live concert, but that makes it exciting and free's you up to zone in and enjoy the moment. The other factor that comes into play with a live band setup is that the 'vibe' and synergy are very often dependent on how well the musicians know each other. If they play together a lot then they 'gel' much easier as a band, whereas with a team of unfamiliar musicians everyone tends to play it a lot safer.


For me, this is true when it comes to social gatherings as well. If you have a close group of friends that know each other very well then they tend to be quite relaxed and have a good time every time they get together. If you're in an unfamiliar social environment you may be able to connect quickly with some of the people on a basic level (like really good musicians must do when they have to work together for the first time), but it's just never the same as when you're out with your buddies.

So where live on-stage performances relate to when I'm having a good time with my friends, social media very much feels like a "studio environment" to me. Many people treat social media as a "safe" enough environment for them to say things and try things that they would never do or say in real life. They grant each other a much smaller margin for error and are quick to judge other people's activities on social media. Maybe this is because social media is such a clinical environment where everyone does their best to present something of themselves that seems well polished and refined.


Also, no matter how you try to personalise it, with social media you will always have a computer stuck in the middle of your relationship with other people. You don't actually have to know, or deal with, or go through the effort of getting to know the other social media users in person (like with many studio sessions where the musicians never actually meet face to face) which means you can technically "connect" with way more people than what would normally have been possible, but it also limits the "connection" to a very shallow social experience.



Learning to Love a Woman


There are a lot of things that a relationship with a woman have in common with how musicians relate to music, as well as how they relate to their instruments. Music can affect your emotions quite drastically, from those welled up tears and goosebumps when you hear a beautiful song, to the anger or aggression that flames up in your belly when you listen to a sub-genre of metal where the frontman is screaming his lungs out. A healthy relationship with a woman tends to have all of these elements and experiences, but my life just wouldn't be as rich without it.


The process of learning to play an instrument is very dynamic. There are many frustrating times where musicians feel like they just can't get it right, but then there are many rewarding moments where all the hard work in learning to understand a musical concept, as well as finding a way to practically implement it on your instrument, finally come together and pay off in a very rewarding experience. I haven't been married for very long, but thus far I have found my relationship with my wife to be very similar. There are many frustrating times where we struggle to understand each other, and where I feel that I'm just not getting it right, but when I push through the frustration and keep working diligently to try and understand her and understand my role as a husband then it eventually pays off in a very rewarding way.

But you will soon realise (as I did) that, just like the process of learning an instrument's craft, the more you learn and expand your understanding of a relationship, the more often you get to the point where you realise how little you actually know about the subject.


One thing I have found about my relationship with my instrument is that when I stop spending time studying my instrument or researching and learning new musical concepts then I quickly reach a stagnant place where I'm frustrated with my capabilities. I can go through the motions and get the job done with the knowledge and skill I have acquired thus far, but I end up frustrating myself, as well as other musicians who have progressed with the way music styles and trends keep evolving (because let's be honest: music keeps changing and evolving with every new era and generation of musicians).


This is true in any romantic relationship as well. Sometimes it's all too easy to fall into a rhythm of 'going through the motions' in our romantic relationships, rather than putting in the time and effort to keep them... well, romantic! A relationship can survive with minimum effort, but when you stop investing time and effort into your relationship with your partner then it soon becomes stagnant and uninspiring. And make no mistake, both of you in this romantic relationship will always be developing and evolving, making the endeavour of getting to know the other person a life-long adventure!





There are a lot of different genres of music out there and every genre has its own list of artists that are considered to be the "most popular" in that genre. One thing that I've noticed with a lot of the "popular" artists is that many of them often release documentaries or movies that take people "behind the scenes" to get a look into where the artist comes from (like '8 Mile' with Eminem; 'Some Kind of Monster' by Metallica; 'Back and Forth' by Foo Fighters; etc.). Not only is this a great marketing tool but I think it also helps a lot of people understand and appreciate their music a much better. As an example, Katy Perry's "Wide Awake" song can be a bit ambiguous if you have no reference of who she is and where she came from, but after having watched her 'Part of Me' documentary my interpretation of what she was saying in that song felt a lot more concrete.


I believe that communication between people works much in the same way. If someone is a good communicator you can probably get a fair idea of what they are trying to say without having any background knowledge about them, but if you understand who they are and where they come from then your understanding of what they are saying will be much more complete, and it will always be much easier to understand what they are communicating.





As a final word, I would like to present to you my analogy of how friendships relate to music genres. Some people have only one or two music genres that they enjoy, and they tend to talk any other genre down. Other people have an incredibly wide variety of music genres that they enjoy, but as much as they have an appreciation for almost any style of music, at any given point there will always be one genre that they can classify as being their favourite.

I find friendships to be very similar: Some people seem to have only one or two friends, and others seem to be friends with absolutely everyone. Just like with music genres, I guess you will always have a favourite friend or group of friends, but people with a rich social experience tend to have friends from all walks of life in their social circles.

Much like music genres, as we go through different phases of life we gain new friends and naturally start gravitating away from other friends. We will always have that favourite friend (or group of friends), but if we don't reach out and start exploring friendships with people from other cultures and backgrounds then our social experience will be rather shallow and "one dimensional".