A Music in Life

Kevin De Sabbata

A Music in Life

“Surely it has happened to you, to have a tune in your head” says an Italian song from the Sixties. To me, this occurs all the time. I do not remember a day without a melody, a symphonic theme or the refrain of a song going around my head.

I discovered Music when I was a child, watching Luciano Pavarotti on TV. The fact that one person could produce such a resonance made me think of him as a superhuman. Days later, my ‘shower recitals’ revealed to me and my poor neighbours that I could copy that magic sound. Since then, performing in choirs or solo concerts has been an irrepressible, almost physical necessity.

Vocal coach Janice Chapman underlines how singing is an evolution of ‘primal sounds’ like crying or sighing, and it is routed in the most ancestral paths of our brain (Singing and Teaching Singing, 2017). In my case, this translates into the instinctive impulse to sing even at bus stops, post offices or the British Library.

Music is the syrup soaking the sponge cake of my life and has been so loyal to come after me even when I seemed no longer interested in Her. At some point, I preferred my Law studies to Conservatoire and I put my artistic aspirations aside. However, during my Bar traineeship a judge approached me after a hearing, asking me to join his a cappella ensemble: here I was again. By the way, my boss in the Law Firm once told me that he had decided to hire me because of my resonant voice, which according to him was an essential requirement for a career at the Bar.

Now that I have left legal practice for doing a PhD, I have irrefutable evidence that Music is not just useful and entertaining but even therapeutic. My research focuses on the rights of people with dementia. In this context, I have met researchers and charities working on music-therapy for individuals with Alzheimer. The way in which a simple song can re-awaken the minds and enthusiasm of people who seemed completely ‘lost’ is truly miraculous. Here, Music reveals her capacity to overcome any obstacle, speaking directly to people’s souls. This happens because She does not use words but the ethereal and eternal routes of wonder. She cries in the excitement and risk of Rossini’s Guillaume Tell’s seven top Cs. She blows in Palestrina’s harmonic puffs. She whispers in Bach’s Goldberg Variations, in which sound evokes silence and the sense of our being floats through the ocean of emptiness.

Music is our link to the pure essence of existence. As British philosopher Alan Watts once said, life is musical and you have to sing with it (Learning the Human Game, 1973). This is why everyone, lawyer, doctor, businessmen or farmer, should also be a musician in the spare time. Indeed, the point is not just keeping a tune in your head, but having Music in your life.