Music as a Container

I was recently watching a behind-the-scenes type of video about the making of an upcoming album by one of my favorite bands. One of the band members had this to say …

“Music is a nice container to put the tragedies in life that everyone goes through. You turn it into something beautiful, or you try to at least.”

There are two great points here that I want to explore. But first I’ll issue a quick warning that I’m going to be talking about some of the darker parts of the human psyche. I also need to preface this with a personal observation about artistic types of people. For me the creative spirit has a shadowy other-side-of-the-coin. In the best of times I find myself attracted to society’s fringe, finding solace in heavy metal music, horror films and novels of supernatural fiction. In the worst of times I feel isolated from the whole of society, falling into a pit of depression. Through conversations with friends and colleagues I know for certain that many artists feel this way.

So how do we deal with this haunting duality? To circle back to the above quotation, we use art as a container for our feelings and we attempt to turn tragedy into beauty. To contain something can either mean to hold it back or to place it within something else. Living vicariously through music, film and literature can hold us back from acting on some of our more destructive impulses. Having an outlet into which we can pour these feeling is constructive. The result of pouring these feelings into our art, whether it be visual or audible, will hopefully be beautiful to us. Better still if others find it beautiful.