Anika Babel is a music scholar from Ireland who'se current focus is on public interaction with western Western art music in Dublin. Babel embodies musicking as a lifestyle, engaged in the creative processes of music by enlisting both performance and composition as fuel for academic engagement. Her essay is a reflection on her love of music and her beginnings with it. Anika Babel is a PhD hopeful residing in the suburbs of Ireland’s capital.
I Believe in Magic
There is hardly a thing in which music is not;
It is strong and it is gentle,
It is sensitive and it is blatant,
It is academic while it is practical,
It is all emotions for those who feel,
It is all realities for those who imagine,
It is all colours for those of synesthesia,
It touches you though it physically cannot,
Music unites and heals how no other can do,
Music is reverence to those of faith or no faith,
Music is complete satisfaction and unconditional,
Music makes the world smaller yet expands our horizons, tolerance, and knowledge.
Above all, it is the most human of human things to do or be.
I believe in magic
but I just call it music.
As with many children, I was fortunate to learn the piano. My parents decided to invest in a modest but perfect piano when I was around the age of four. Thankfully their investment paid off and this piano remains my dearest friend.
I had the standard childhood pianistic experience studying for annual grade exams at the Royal Irish Academy of Music during primary and secondary school. However, this pace of learning was not quick enough for my liking. This is when my little ditties were expanded; I started to compose with an aim.
Composition was something I had always dabbled in but never gave it much regard – it was a done thing in my life, I just didn’t think much about sharing it. At this stage, age 16, I wanted to play more challenging pieces and I had a simple solution: compose more challenging pieces! I wanted my left hand at the bottom of the keyboard and my right and fluttering at the highest notes while both hands intermittently intertwine around middle C.
As a result, Hot Potato was ready to be performed at my school’s end of year Concert Gala – a perfect audience of peers, teachers and family to impress!
While I was only hoping for my pianistic skills to be recognised (very modest of me, I know!) it was Hot Potato itself that was praised. That night turned out to be pivotal in my musical life. A piece I created was liked!? Maybe I should write more?
Composing music brought me great joy. It wasn't necessarily from performing the polished finished product but rather it was from the process of invention which brought me immeasurable satisfaction. Music is transcendent and grounding all at once. My improvisatory approach to composition often opened the door to flow and there is no greater feeling than flow.
Today I am completing a Masters in Composition. Music has granted me access to places I could hardly imagine of visiting, and most importantly it has introduced me to the most kindest and warmest people I could only dream of meeting. I sing in choirs, play in gamelan, tinker around with guitars, banjos, whistles and drums. Music is my life and I could not be any happier.