In this essay, Living With Music, Ralph Ellison speaks of the importance of music in a person's life. He presents the contributions that it offers, such as giving people understanding, order, and meaning, while it also helps us shape our own unique social and cultural identity.
Firstly, Ellison describes his first experiences with music. During his childhood years, he played a brass horn. He remembers how his music teacher and tradition says to play what he heard and felt around him, but like most music teachers do, they stress the importance of playing what a person is supposed to hear and feel, making music so unenthusiastic. He recalls of the deafening and shrieking noises he made, instead of playing a smooth flow of notes. Like most kids, he eventually gave up on playing the instrument, for he found it dead and a bore.
It was later on in his life that he met up with music again.
He had a neighbor that lived on top of his apartment. Her notes, apparently, were off, and sometimes she would shriek. To get back at her, he bought a speaker system, which he used to drown and to contradict her "music." Only when he moved away to a new apartment was when he realized that he missed the music that he heard.
Ralph Ellison apprehended the power of music. He realized that music can is a constant reminder of your past and of whom you were, while it reminds us of our aspirations. At the same time, it is an escape. It helps to drown the troubles in life, as he did to drown the horrible notes that his neighbor sung. Music will not only calm when one is troubled, it will resurrect and liven him.