Words carry meaning. It sounds so obvious that it feels silly and arbitrary to state it, but I wanted to share something with you all (using words no less! lol) because there is something unique about the album I just recorded with my THOSE band-mates…a principle I feel lies at the core of it all. I’ll try to explain what I mean as best I can:
Words not only carry meaning, but they are one of the very few ways in the world (and perhaps the easiest/clearest) to express it at all. Take a moment and imagine a world without words; without any spoken language. Our ideas, concepts, and the multitude of our expressions of heart & mind rely so strongly on words that it seems we would be lost without them.
Yet…what is gained in their absence?
Words convey meaning so powerfully when integrated with music, this much is obvious to anyone with even half of a heart. Music provides a sort of bottom-up filter which helps solidify our complex emotions, scattered in the abstract (ex: concepts, ideas), to the slightly more concrete (feelings, desires), and the lyrics in a song typically serve to bring that abstraction even closer to home, further integrating this emotion/meaning from first, abstraction, then purely sensory and finally to a more fundamental rational/logical grasp. In my experience a song will feature lyrics that will typically either carry a more strict (literal) meaning, or one that can be interpreted in a myriad of ways (my favorite type)
…but all songs with “lyrics” have one limiting factor in common, an interesting sort of conundrum that is almost always overlooked…it is this: from the most mundane in words, to the most elaborate in prose: they must by sheer necessity (from the simple fact that language naturally structures, compartmentalizes and categorizes), exclude meaning as well.
A few artists have tried to get around this limitation and have done so quite effectively, if not completely. For example: Sigur Ros, from Iceland, is a band with inspiring beautiful music, and an amazing voice to match….but it is a voice for the most part that sings in hopelandic (a fictional language) – the artist wants the listener to derive the meaning, not from literal words themselves, but from the music alone (including his non-literal words, used as more of an instrument/texture) …because meaning it’s not something that they (Sigur Ros) artificially try to GIVE to their listeners, but rather the meaning and purpose is revealed and created in the person alone, and whatever it is, it’s something the artist is not privy to. Perhaps there will be no meaning to some people, and in some people go the other direction and be life changing, it could go either way, and that’s the real beauty of it.
It could even trigger a more acute dislike in some people, but this is the cost for not spelling it out in such familiar ways.
It’s this sort of (admittedly) vague, but compelling (to me) artistic philosophy that permeates the album we’ve just recorded; you see, because our album has NO words at all (no main vocalist), save some FX work throughout, which is treated as more of an instrument/texture…sampled voices, sound clips, the occasional word/scream, etc…the meaning is buried for sure, it’s far less concrete then a vocalist with lyrics, far more abstract. I don’t speak for other members of the band directly, but I get the feeling (without words, lol) that they would agree on these principles; But that being said, this is really my own personal view on our album, and a big part of my emotional motivation behind being a member of this band/album.
So what does it all MEAN?! What meaning/emotions/purpose do I feel are being conveyed by our album? Well I can’t answer that, I’ve already expressed these concepts in far too many words already! That’s the whole point:
The meaning of our music is for YOU to derive (or to accept as none), the same as me. I wouldn’t take that away from you, not for the sake of mere words.