Marching to the Beat of Your Own Drum-Pt. One

written by:  LA Jamison

edited by:  Shari Staten


Got Words? is all about marching to beat of your own drum with the emphasis on the creative.  Yet, there is a struggle for those who do make their own mark on the world with a desire for their expressions to be appreciated, if not understood, by someone.  Maybe not by the masses, but at least a few people who may share a creative, spiritual, or even sexual side you share (the list is endless).  These are re-vamped posts from my prior blog site that speak to inspire and encourage those on that journey.




Music. When we use the phrase “marching to the beat of your own drum”, it is not just striking in us a call to be our true selves, but that being our true selves has a certain life rhythm to it. Music is language all its own just like that complex journey of finding self and our place in this universe.  Music itself has the power to subdue the most twisted of souls. It may be disturbing to think about but do you realize that a person you can’t stand the most can be moved, inspired and touched by the same music you are?  No one wants to think about folks like Hitler or Saddam Hussein liking Mozart or Beethoven the same as themselves. It is nevertheless true, and still, none of us have the same experiences with music as the person next to us. Music crosses not only language barriers but differences in personalities, temperaments and perspectives.


To flip this on top of its head, language can also be seen as music. Words can have a similar power as music. There is rhythm--a beat even in languages we don't understand. Music is all around us. Language, just like music, has a purpose to get a message across or even transform  the receiver. Okay, LA what the hell is your point?  Language and music can be used for good and bad in our culture.  It sends universal messages. This is one reason no one should be afraid to march to the beat of their own drum rather than that of the culture at large.


In one of my favorite books, “The Sparrow” by Mary Doris Russell, a quirky crew of scientists led by a priest that is an expert in linguistics cross paths at a research center committed to the search of alien life. The center does so by transmitting and receiving signals from outer space. A priest comes across a message from another planet and it is, of all things, music. The music is sung in a language no one has ever heard before. Even though they cannot understand the language, the crew can still hear the beauty and they are transfixed, probably even more so, because they are only required to hear beats, rhythms, instruments and tones. Since they don't know the world that the music is coming from, they make many assumptions. After all, until they are there, assumptions are all they have. They banter around ideas that the planet is probably something close to a paradise. They get an impression of a certain sort of sensibility and even morality of its people: technologically advanced, artistically inclined, even religious perhaps.



Can you imagine what an alien world would think about us if they discovered Earth via only our music? No doubt, they might make their own assumptions--and those would depend on the type of music they heard. Would they imagine coming to a world with countries at war, starving children, prostitution, and slavery? The answer is probably no unless they understood our languages. In the Sparrow, the crew have no reason to believe terrible things are happening on the alien planet, however, upon arrival, the crew learn the harsh realities of a world that is nothing like they imagined based on the music.  The music was deceptive.



What about our world today?  People are deceived every day by language and music.  Even in places of worship, religious leaders can inspire but also can deceive large numbers of people “in the name of God”.  In some circles, there are even certain styles of music for specific groups that wave high in the sonic-sphere like warrior banners. Presidential campaigns have certain familiar rhetoric and even theme songs.. This is something that uplifts those who are on board with their campaign. To the opposing side, it is just another element of persuading voters with a message they feel isn't "right for the country."  Music has been played at battle scenes as soldiers march into war and even train for war--some wars that shouldn't have been fought. Music is a tool and it, like anything else, can be used to manipulate.


Probably the most powerful example we can see today is how music influences young people. Music moguls use music and music videos to implement trends and sway our young people into the clothing styles and lifestyles that will bring their companies an inflow of money based on their own ad campaigns.  Whether it’s drugs, cars, clothing, or gold chains, music moguls these days have not only their own musical lingo and lyrics but clothing lines down to perfumes and more. Suddenly, large groups of people are no longer marching to the beat of their own drum.  They are marching to the beat of what has been sold to them as "cool" and "hip."  The greatness in themselves can't be realized because they have given that over to their idol. So instead, they talk like someone else, buy their music, and dress like them in hopes to be that person rather than their own person.


We will get more into what it means being who you were meant to be the next time in part II.