Why This Writer’s Favorite Songs Have No Words

I adore music without words. Somehow, the gradual crescendo of an entire orchestra is able to express love far better than the word itself. A starry sky only becomes more surreal to watch with twinkling high notes of a piano playing Claire de Lune in the background. Who hasn’t listened to a Harry Potter movie score at least twice?

The level of emotions that instrumental music captures might have to do with the fact that it leaves so much room for guessing. Recently, I was listening to an instrumental piece on a random playlist. Turning to my roommate, I eagerly said that we were probably listening to the background music of a passionate adventure into unforeseen love. My roommate, a fellow instrumental music enthusiast, immediately disagreed with me. She argued that the song was clearly representating a soldier’s last reflection before entering battle. The best part is there are no lyrics to bolster one side’s argument; we can get either one of those stories, it can even be both. My roommate and I agreed not to look at the title of the song, the only indicator of the song’s specific purpose, as to preserve our arguments for eternity. (Unfortunately, because of our stupidity, I have been unable to find that beautiful song since.)

I am certain that my infatuation has to stem from a life that is overflowing with word-based passions otherwise. I am always attempting to conquer words in their every form, from ignoring my American accent and belting Hindi song lyrics to spending hours analyzing a single passage of a book. That being said, when I listen to classical music, the lack of words consumes me. How exactly was Hans Zimmer able to so accurately depict the life of a pirate without a single “aye-aye”? How did Tchaikovsky speechlessly relay the essence of the Sugar Plum Fairy’s graceful dance? I am lost to how composers are able to put inconceivable depth into every story that they were relaying; my hope is to someday capture this depth in words.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind an occasional duet with Lizzo or Khalid on a drive, but at the end of the day, I would much rather be in the audience of an orchestra.

Student. Writer. Navigating through the beginnings of adulthood with the help of student discounts and a lot of food. This might take a few drafts…

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