Friday, May 7, 2010

"How Can I Keep From Singing?"

In the far off land of Somalia there is a decree that no music can be played on the radio stations.  I have heard of other countries making this decree - no music.  How can that be?  How is that possible?  Music is the language of the soul. Not only do we create it ourselves, but It fills our natural world through whale song and birdsong, wind blowing in the trees and frogs croaking in my pond. 

The instruments that bring forth musical sounds are carefully created and revered.  Wood of the finest kind is shaped into a violin or a guitar, strings are skillfully crafted to bring forth the purest of notes.  Music comes so naturally to us -- as a mother sings softly to her newborn baby, as that baby hears notes and moves his/her body in the rhythm, as we pass through phases of our lives when the local radio station and its musical choice is our connection to the world. When my son was a teenager we had to relocate.  The first question he asked (in a very forlorn voice) was "will there be a radio station there that plays 'my' music?" 

My music choice for beading is usually classical, coming from my local public radio station.  There are also times when I pull out my favorite cds -- everything from Enya and Il Divo to The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel (am I dating myself?).  If I could not hear music performed by others I would have to sing by myself -- I would have to lift my less than adequate voice to the skies and sing my heart out.

One day, when we were on a trail in the woods which led to a waterfall two women passed us by.  As we walked away from the waterfall (which is set back in an mini-ampetheater type setting) one of the women stood under the waterfall and sang. Her lovely voice floating out into the forest. 

To forbid music in a society is like telling everyone they can only breathe for ten minutes a day - it is impossible.  Today as you hum along to your favorite music do it for those who cannot, do it for yourself and love every minute of it.
"My life goes on in endless song
above earth's lamentations
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
that heals a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear it's music ringing
It sounds an echo to my soul
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble in their fear
and hear their death knell ringing
when friends rejoice both far and near
how can I keep from singing?

In prison and dungeon vile
our thoughts to them are winging
when friends by shame are undefiled
how can I keep from singing?"



  1. Oh Penny! I'm so glad you referenced back to this post in your post about your May BJP... I so agree with you (and have similar music tastes). I had no idea about Somalia... Sad (and cruel) beyond words. Music and art contribute to creative expression, leading to creative thinking, leading perhaps to revolt... Do you suppose fear is behind a ban like this?

  2. Robin -- I'm sure that fear is behind something like this -- often an exercise of power just masks fear.



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