My maternal grandfather was enmeshed in the country music scene. As a young adult he ran with the likes of Marty Robbins, Freddy Fender, Don Williams and Bobby Bare. This style of music, the showmanship, and the fashion have all influenced me greatly. The sound of vinyl popping and the soul heard in heartfelt music will forever echo in ever fiber of my being. I grew up breathing the warm metallic smell of recording equipment and amps, shepherded along by the familiarity of the voice that taught and scolded me as he sang heartfelt songs about love and the gospel.
My dad is a musician as well. Just like every trade and artistic medium his hands touch, there’s no instrument whose ways escape him. The singular sound of my dad’s callused fingers sliding across his guitar strings is one of the best sounds in the whole world. His straightlaced Christian upbringing served to push him deeper into music’s embrace. My whole entire life, he’s filled our home with music of all sorts. The Gourds, Silverchair, Rob Zombie and Etta James would be cycled through within a matter of hours. My mom dancing around to Sandra Bernhard albums and playing Mazzy Star anytime she laid me down for a nap influenced me just as strongly.
Our house was always full of music. Now that I have a home with my husband, ours is as well. This is why yours should be, too, and how you can do it.
Reinforce the ambiance intentionally
There’s a beautiful sense of unity to be enjoyed by playing a local radio station. When you know that others are hearing the same program or music that you’re hearing, it reinforces a sense of belonging that is rare. However, there’s no substitute for a well curated playlist that suits the ambiance you want to create in your home. Ask yourself these questions before just turning on any XM station or playlist:
- What is the weather? What is the season? Choose sounds that fit with your understanding of the weather or season. Some people prefer piano when it rains, and crooners when it snows. Some prefer grainy acoustics in the fall, and lively vocals in the spring. Reflect on the music you listened to during key times in your life, and how that coincides with seasons and weather… 4-H camp in the summer, the day you met the love of your life, the first time you drove with your license, your first college party, your favorite sleepover, the day your child took those first teetering steps, your favorite meal shared with your grandmother.
- What mood are you in, and should the music you listen to work with or against that? It seems like the convenient solution when feeling morose is to turn that emotion around by mainlining cheery positivity, but I disagree. Its important to be where you are and experience the fullness of your emotions richly in order that you can truly reset. Other times, when you’re on the cusp of a different mood, you can use music to shape the desired mindset. So many people think that they’re a victim to their emotional currents, and while for some people that is true, by and large I think its more a matter of what we’re feeding our senses. Sound plays a key role in this!
Create a richer experience in your home
We go to so much effort creating beautiful homes. We labor over the textures of our linens, the finishes of our items, the comfort of our furniture, the fragrances of our candles and the aromas of our meals. Sound, and music, are far more pervasive than all of these other things. One source of music can fill our entire home, and it only takes one speaker, one record player, one stereo. The cost to benefit ratio surpasses every other element of home decor!
Not only will music literally fill your home with an added sensory dimension, it can exponentiate the impact of your other decor and comforts. Selecting music that is cohesive with your home aesthetic, or with the specific activities you’re enjoying, or with the experience you’re creating, seals your efforts more effectively. The continuity, and lack of dissonance, makes the home environment fertile soil for whatever experience you are trying to create. Of course this doesn’t mean that a home and decor style of a very specific aesthetic cannot be filled with music fitting for the entire spectrum of human emotions. Rather, its important to consider the instruments, era, theme, and vibe of the music to ensure a good fit.
Create a beautiful buffer within negative airspace
So many people feel the need to fill dead airspace with fruitless, masturbatory conversation. They never learned the beauty and power of comfortable, companionable silence. While silence is absolutely something we should become accustomed to, we can ensure the comfort of ourselves, our guests and our loved ones by filling the air with music. Imagine if we were forever unburdened from the need to fill the silence. How much more rich would our companionship be? How much less would we feel the need to retreat and withdraw if our music-filled homes fostered the space for us to simply be?
Creating a buffet of sounds in the home also makes guests comfortable. It creates a buffer for brunch, tea, or dinner guests to eat and drink comfortably. They’ll be without fear of being heard eating, and without the discomfort of hearing others doing the same. The music itself can present opportunities to start conversations as well.
So many people keep the television on to achieve a similar goal. Growing up without a television, I’m certainly more sensitive to this. Its a shame how the television being on constantly can dull us to the rich visuals of a carefully planned menu, a handpicked bouquet, and all the other vignettes we create within our home. This is most salient during mealtimes and intimate gatherings, when a television is liable to hold the attention hostage. It steals the show in an undesirable fashion. Television is so much more intrusive than music, and takes away from the quality of the experience your home creates. While the sense of stimulation is desirable, there’s so much less control over the content you’re consuming. The advertisements and programming itself are both outside of your influence, whereas you can customize music to create exactly the intended effect while complementing the experience you’re cultivating.
Having music in the home also creates a buffer within your own mind. It presents just enough background stimulation to help you keep track of time or get entirely immersed in your projects, whatever the occasion calls for. This enables your mind to wander while keeping you from losing your way. It can afford you more focus and more creativity. It can even help you to reroute your thoughts and in doing so intentionally sway your inwardly directed behaviors.
Music isn’t just for parties. Music is for every day, because if lived right, every day is a momentous occasion.
Here are a few of my Spotify playlists for specific occasions. I hope they inspire you to create your own!
- My Bubble Bath playlist is very girly and romantic. The French vocals, female singers, and wistful music help me to recharge and right my energy levels. I emerge from the fragrant suds feeling very much myself when I play this!
- My Joyous Love playlist is what my husband and I played during the meal at our wedding reception. We often play it over meals together and during dinner parties with our friends and family!
- My Lullabies playlist is centered around the Mazzy Star albums I mentioned my mother playing for me as a child. This playlist provides immense comfort to me now. Anytime I intend to take a mid day nap, am feeling unwell, or am seeking the familiarity of ebbing, flowing sound that washes over me, this playlist is the one!