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I detest silence.

Not the silence of the outdoors, mind. Nature has a music all its own, a different movement unique to a time and place. It is not Silence, void of warmth and heat. No, what I can't stand is the absence of background, of music, of melody and rhythm.

Admittedly, we are never in true silence; there is always something, but often that something is noise, a discordant cacophony of random input, not even white noise. It is why if I shop at Target, I shop quickly and with purpose, for example. They don't play music, so there is no underlying melody to drown out or unite the assorted mishmash of sounds from shoppers and cashiers. It unsettles me.

I have had music in my life from an early age. The first song I clearly remember singing along with? Elvira by the Oak Ridge Boys. I was six, and we had it on reel-to-reel. It seemed there was always music playing in the house, usually the radio, or a favorite artist of my mother's. We had vinyl, 8-tracks, cassettes, the aforementioned reel-to-reel, and later CDs, of course. But there was always something. Music played as I got ready for school, while my mother made dinner, whenever the TV wasn't on.

I started playing piano in fifth grade, a truly random decision made on a whim. I enjoyed it, but dropped it for band the next year; we could only afford one or the other if I wanted to continue art classes, and many of my friends were in band. Plus, band replaced the dreaded PE, where I was always the subject of ridicule. My familiarity with the piano prompted the director to place me on xylophone. I wanted to play drums, but 1) there were already too many drummers in beginner band, and 2) my mother was highly opposed to the idea. This didn't stop me from learning, however, and I was often called out for having better rhythm than the boys drumming. I loved percussion, and stayed with band through high school, though I was never a "proper" drummer. I remained a bells and xylophone player to the end, though I became very adept at juggling a lot of secondary instruments, especially in orchestral band. In middle school, I fell in love with metal, largely because of the driving percussion and how it was juxtaposed with melody and lyric. From there, industrial and darkwave captivated me as well, for a similar reason; the relentless backbeat of the percussive line, regardless of how it was produced, could send me into myself in a way that meditation could not.

Now to what prompted the post

I've not ever been without music, and there are very few genres in which I can't claim to like at least a song or two. But I somehow... lost it. Oh, there have been artists that grabbed me, music that caught my attention for a short while, but I enjoyed it and moved on. I seldom allowed myself the true bliss of sinking into the music anymore, lost the desire to search out the new. It became nothing more than background noise, silence that wasn't silence, a little death of spirit so subtle I didn't even realize it.

I've been rediscovering music again over the past year and a half, thanks to a couple of dear friends. Specifically, I've rediscovered metal, fallen in love again with the genre and fascinated by it's evolution since the days of my youth. Some bands I've was loosely familiar with before (Nightwish, Leaves's Eyes) but others were unknown, now welcome additions to my music library. One album in particular demanded my attention, speaking to me deeply: Kamelot's latest Silverthorn. (Mind, I like their older music as well, especially Ghost Opera. But Silverthorn clinched it, and that likely has to do with their new singer as much as anything.) It has roughly 300 plays on my iTunes, as I often leave it on loop while I sleep. It captured me enough that once I was shown a video of the group performing live, I decided I really wanted to see them in concert.

I've always talked myself out of going to concerts, no matter how much I want to see a group. The last "big" concert I attended was Rush, on their Counterparts tour; that album was also one of the last albums to grab me as strongly as Silverthorn has. The crowds trigger my social anxiety issues badly, and I usually require a seat. Just the idea of standing room was enough to send me into panic. But I greatly enjoy live music, and missed the experience. This time, I had someone to go to this concert with, someone who intimately understands my issues with crowds (which meant he could hopefully talk me down if I freaked out), and was also a big fan of the group. I was determined that I would not miss this event, that I would make it through to the end of the concert without bolting- even if it was standing room only.

I expected to enjoy it, to have an amazing time. I didn't expect a bit of spiritual epiphany.

It hit me during the drummer's solo spotlight. We were only a few rows back from the stage. The acoustics of the space caused the music to surround me, and the wooden floor vibrated to the beat, sending it through my body. Combined it made me feel as if I truly was one with the drums, with the music, and the feeling continued through the rest of the show. I can't remember the last time I truly let go and felt music, not like that, let my guard down and just rode the pulse of it.

I hadn't realized how much I missed experiencing music like that- or how much I needed to do so. I'm already planning more such concerts.

There were people at the concert who spent the whole time with their phones in the air, trying to record it. I feel sorry for them. Sure, they have a nice little personal record of the event; however, how much of their experience did they sacrifice to get that record? How much more could they have felt, how much more memory would they have made if they had put the phone down and just listened, banged their head, clapped their hands, screamed themselves hoarse (as I did) when prompted?

Music isn't background noise to me. Music is vital. I need it in my life as much as I need air. How did I forget it's importance? Thank you so much, my friends, for helping me remember this.
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