Everybody likes music.
Sure, everybody likes different music, but have you ever met someone who actually didn’t enjoy music?
I doubt it.
Music brings people together, think of how many hundreds of concerts and festivals, and millions of music crazy attendees there are every year. But right now, in the face of the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that we don’t come together physically. So does that mean music ceases to bring us together? Absolutely not.
Numerous stories have emerged during the course of the pandemic about the way the power of music has subsisted.
Just about everyone has seen the videos of people in Italy, standing on their balconies, singing, playing instruments with their neighbours, providing notes of hope in what is a very difficult time in Italy.
The music has a powerful effect on the viewer, it is powerful in what it represents, the human spirit and community in the face of a harsh challenge to humanity. While viewing these clips, it’s important to consider that many of those singing likely have family members effected by the pandemic (and the mortality rate is extremely high in Italy). It is honestly such a wonder that something so spectacular can be cast out of such grim times.
Here’s a nice compilation of some of the performances. It pretty well speaks for itself.
Another really interesting thing about this pandemic and our prescribed self quarantine or social distancing is the way that platforms like instagram, facebook, and snapchat have been utilized by musicians to ensure the music they play finds a listeners ear beyond the traditional album recordings streamed on services like Spotify and Apple Music. It’s almost like a democratization of concerts without barriers to access like cost of ticket, paired simultaneously with a window into the artists life in the time of social distancing.
While concerts like this started before his, Chris Martin of Coldplay may have really brought the trend to light with his instagram live set “Together at Home”
After Martin’s concert, John Legend, Keith Urban, Rob Thomas and numerous other major artists continued the trend putting on their own concerts.
But it’s not only major artists using the platform. Artists of all different walks of life are using the social distancing measures as an opportunity to record new content, and it’s a fine treat for everyone. This snippet I came across, a cover of Calvin Harris and Frank Ocean, I particularly liked:
There are a ridiculous amount of talented people out, and this is a chance for them to put out great content to a captive audience which is starved for the kind of connection music can bring.
I’m actually going to use this opportunity to recommend my favourite cover of all time, Coldplay’s Green Eyes preformed by Annie Sumi. It’s from well before the time of COVID-19, but as my dad always says when it comes to music “it’s not when it comes out, it’s when you hear it”, and I suspect anyone reading this could use the uplift this angelic voice provides.
NPR compiled a list of links to upcoming virtual concerts being offered. A highlight for my taste was Hozier March 20th at 3PM EST. But the nature of instagram live as well as other social media platforms is that the information moves fast and is widespread. Artists could be announcing concerts on their platforms the day of, or even just hold surprise concerts. It’s sort of exciting thinking wonderful performances are right around the corner, and we’ll probably remember them forever given the circumstances.
Some artists are taking it one step further. Take the Arkells from Hamilton, ON for example. Throughout the past week the band has been posting the sheet music to their songs on Facebook and other social media platforms. Then, at a prearranged time daily, the band goes live on instagram for its “Flatten the Curve” music lessons.
Thus far, the band has taught viewers how to play some of the biggest hits in their catalog, including: Leather Jacket, People’s Champ, And Then Some, and their new hit single Years in the Making. The classes offer a pretty intimate experience between the fans and their favourite band, and has included opportunities to ask the band questions, discuss general everyday topics, the current circumstance, and of course, talk music!
As an added benefit, goals of self-improvement like learning an instrument, or new songs on an instrument you already play, is a great way to deal with some of the psychological challenges of isolation. The Arkells have clearly figured out a way to curb their boredom and share their talents with the world. And for the record, once life gets back to normal (and it will), you have to see this band live. They’re Canadian, their tunes are catchy as hell, and, no word of a lie, they actually sound better live than the records can capture.
So while there’s a lot of troubling news out there, lets keep in mind we’ve got such a rich conduit for communication and human contact in the form of internet, and music is a great way for the human spirit to inspire us all to get through this happy, healthy, and well.
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