Reflection: Final Report

The past few weeks I followed classical and contemporary music to study its effects on my daily life. I dove into romantic era composer Frédéric Chopin and the influence of his Polonaise that not only musically stimulated my thoughts and encouragement, but as well as the history of Chopin and his morals behind the music. I also looked towards contemporary music of different genres and followed it messages and their responses on society versus my responses. College students have stress follow them everywhere they go of being away from home, school work, or living on their own, there needs to be a time to relax and calm down. There can be a set time before lectures or exams of relaxation and meditation to classical music to help ease students, and help their mind focus on the task they are about to perform. As well as during “common hour”, a time most students are out of class and it is their time to recollect themselves and continue with their day. With this gap in the day, it can be used to place certain classical pieces to stimulate motivation and relaxation to help relieve some of the many pressures students carry along with them aside from their lunches and books. During my studying periods before classes or on my free time, I would listen to classical music to help me focus on my work but subconsciously make me work more efficiently and faster. It puts me in a “Zen” like mood as if nothing can hinder my flow of work until it is completed and is my best, and I feel it carried me to where I am today. I wish to share my experience and success with fellow students to prove to them that classical music isn’t outdated or pointless but can help improve and motivate in any task. Students have so much potential that could be masked and hindered by stress, and yet classical music can be a key to open that door and have their studies and focus shifted to prosper in school and in daily life.

Contemporary music

Throughout the summer as a student, I have noticed through my personal experience and fellow students experience that our time is mostly to work and save up money. The pressures of working and sacrificing the summer time to be able to have money while school starts. Being one of those students, I feel stressed and anxious the closer school comes around if I have enough money that will last me through the semester and the rest of the summer. Dealing with all these pressures of independence and the awareness of school starting again, looking towards music is what will be great factor to help motivate me to succeed. Classical music being the foundation for all music, modern music can be analyzed and dissect it to find its musical properties to promote success and motivation just as it has since the start of music. 

Modern music or contemporary music has expanded itself it to hundreds of genres of music that influence people on a daily basis. For my research I studied two songs of two different genres to study its effects lyrically, melodically, and how they work together even though they’re different genres. The first song is “My shot” by Lin Manuel Miranda from the hit Broadway musical Hamilton. Musical theater is still written more traditionally on manuscript and more intentions in their musical transitions based on the plot of the story. “My shot” is a special musical theater song being that it is a rap song that follows a 90’s rap era melodic and lyrical flow. Miranda speaks about Alexander Hamilton’s hopes in his future and not giving up. “No I am not giving away my shot. Hey yo I’m just like my country. I’m young, scrappy and hungry, and I am not throwing away my shot” (Miranda, Hamilton). He connects Hamilton’s ambitions and motivation to the same America’s, as well as connecting their struggles and faults of being weak and new to this whole idea of growth but will never give up. 

The next song that follows the same sort of motivation is Beyoncé’s “Formation”. This Pop/R&B broke records on billboard charts and also got its main message across to the millions of people who bought and listened. Beyonce spoke about African American beauty and acceptance as well as being a woman in America and how as a women we have to unite and raise one another up. Even as modern music, classical music at their time and still today promote the same motivation and message through their work. For example the Italian romantic era composer Giuseppe Verdi. Verdi was an Italian nationalist who write music to signify Italian unification and Italian pride. Music of any genre and can get a message through it’s lyrics and message through the music. 

“Reloading Classical Music: The Benefits of Music for College Students”

In my journey of classical music, I attended a high school that is famous for their strict and prestigious arts studies where I majored in vocal music. I learned not only classical singing but the history and composition behind it. After the 4 years of in depth learning of classical music, my love and appreciation grew stronger and stronger. Finally, being extracted from my bubble-like environment where everyone listened and appreciated the same music as I do, to then have my bubble burst when I entered university where the “common knowledge” of music wasn’t so common anymore. This stimulated a question as to why I seemed so alone in the thought that classical music can help everyone just as much as their preferred music genre if only one’s perception of classical music was shifted. My research will prove to people, following closely on students and people in work environments, that classical music is not outdated or unbeneficial to their daily lives, instead will better them not only emotionally but mentally stimulate improvements. Music is a language that anyone can speak. It expresses any form of emotion and at occasions it is a post to hold us up in times of despair or happiness, and can even be a sense of motivation. No music is not only restricted to one demographic, which in some cases it is believed that certain music is out dated or not impactful to one’s life.

Personally, I have always relied on classical music on times of pressure to help me relax and stabilize my thinking on any stress that may trouble me. A specific work that comes to mind that always seems to help guide me through my pressures is Polonaise in A Flat Major, Op. 10, no. 12 byFrédéric Chopin. The piece is written in a major key, which just by hearing it gives the listener more hope and empowerment by its uplifting key. It is also written in somewhat of a Polonaise style, which was a classic Polish dance music, with a ¾ time signature that gives a sort of rhythm that historically conveyed a nationalistic and empowering feeling. Chopin uses rubato which is the give and take of tempo that pulls the beat back bringing more tension, then resolving it by speeding it up and releasing the tension. Following the rubato are extreme dynamic markings that control how loud and soft the music will get. The most common markings are piano(soft) and forte(loud). To bring a flow to some of the dynamic markings there are crescendos and decrescendos that are carries the dynamic marking gradually louder or softer. These musical factors bring the piece together to carry out this sense of pride and strength in whatever circumstance, where I feel pressured with school work or finances and even who I am. Being able to listen dissect this piece of music relaxes me and calms me from my troubles and lets me know that I can preserver and even help generate ideas on how to fix any conflict I am facing.

In exploring these ideas of classical music and its potential to help so many people, a method in following our research is studying the music itself by sampling of classical music and other genres and reflecting on its impact of thinking and processing during different circumstances. Looking deeper into the details of music and why it may influence a certain thought just by the way the music was written by the composer and the time it was written. The objective is to be able to return back to classical music and explore its benefits for daily life to make our loud and busy lives just quiet enough to hear the music.