Why I Communicate Through The Meaning Of Music Instead Of Words

by Melissa Lin

We all need music in our lives to talk. I realized this earlier in the week, when someone asked me why I spend as much time as I do creating it.

Why does it bring me joy? Why do I spend as much time as I do working on just one song? Even though I am sure most of us use music to talk to each other on some level, I can only try to explain my experience. I can only give my own answer to this question.

At first, I didn’t know what to say or how to begin. Finally, I explained I had a million different reasons, none of which easily translated into words. And that this is exactly why I do it.

I mean, I like to write, but sometimes, there’s just no way to type out exactly how I feel about a person or subject. This is a problem because I really do like to express myself. I find I need outlets to explain to the world how I feel, even if no one is actually listening or understands.

I need to at least try because it’s who I am.

With music, I can convey all of the thoughts and ideas that float around in my head, but can’t grasp the words to translate. I’m sure you know what I mean.

It's like when someone asks you your opinion on a difficult subject, and you don’t know what to say. So, you don’t say anything, and then there’s one of those awkward silences for a moment.

But I find, with music, you could find a song that explains what you really meant in your head. Maybe this is why people sometimes make playlists for each other; they can use lyrics and melodies to say all of the things they won’t actually say out loud.

So when I write music, I’m really trying to tell you all of these things in my head. They're the thoughts I can’t figure out how to say aloud. I think this is why I never put lyrics in my pieces.

My songs are never just one emotion. I have written many, and they are always a mixture of different things. To be honest, most of them are only half finished, and no one will ever get to hear them.

But this is okay because a lot of things I want to express are never actually said out loud, either. At this point, I have a lot of songs. Some are started, some are half-finished, and some are complete. I think I have a song for a lot different things I want to say now.

There is a song for the way I feel when I look up into the sky on my way home late at night. This feeling is both very small and large at the same time. I feel my presence expanded into the sky above me, even though I am still limited to my body on the ground.

This always gives me comfort because for some reason, I feel less alone. Or maybe it’s that I know I’m alone, but when I look up, I somehow feel okay about it.

But do you see? This is what I mean. I really can’t explain it in words, but maybe the sincerity in the melodies will convince you.

I’ve written a song for the quietness of loss. It was only piano, very simple and gentle. It was about the page break that happens after something ends.

But how could I ever put that into words?

Once I tried to write a song about all of the heartbreaks I’ve endured and gone through, and it was very sad and heavy. It would have been very pretty, I think. But as I was composing, I started to feel this pain in my chest, and I had to stop.

I don’t think it was because I wasn’t over it, but because I was reminded of all the times I thought things meant something but didn’t. They're the things that were supposed to be real, but weren’t in the end.

And I had to stop. I had to leave it unfinished. I hope you understand.

There are happy songs, too. I wrote “Do You Remember” when I was thinking about sitting by the lake in summer, watching the sun bounce back in pieces off the surface. I wanted to share this with you.

But if I said, "Hey, I’d like for you to picture peace and sunlight in your mind right now just because I said so,” you’d look at me like I was f*cking crazy. But with music, I can say this.

And hopefully, you won’t think anything of it. You’ll just naturally see what I’m telling you in your head.

Best of all, with the music I create, I can tell you all of the reasons why I love you, even if you’ll never know it.

For example, I can tell you how I love the slight downward curve of your top lip when you truly smile, and the way your lashes hide your eyes when you look at me.

Your eyes always confuse me because I can never tell what color they want to be. Sometimes, I try to look closely to figure it out, but I always stop. I’m afraid you’ll look straight into my head, and if that happened, I wouldn’t need to write this song at all.

And I need to write. I said this at the beginning.

I love the way your gaze always looks lazily amused because that’s not really how you are. You always have the wittiest comeback to anything anyone says. Sometimes, I think your mind is always going a million miles a minute, and I feel people don't really appreciates that as much as they should.

You’re always looking for the next thing to create, to experience and to explore. You want part in shaping the world for generations to come. And in the build up of my chorus, I try to say how wonderful it is to know someone like you is around.

The world needs more people who want to do that.

And at the end of the song, I can ask you why you don’t love me back. I can show you why this is somehow okay. It really is.

I love you simply for everything you put into the world, and you might be the first person I’ve ever felt that way about. But again, it’s really hard to explain this in words.

So please, let me put this into music. Simple words will never be enough.