Why Music Matters In The Face of Violence


Our original intention for this week’s blog was to continue in the vein that Steve started with his great piece last week entitled “Light the Music, Light the Brain.” We decided to go in a different direction in light of last week’s horrific attacks in Paris. At our core, Steve and I are musicians; in fact we are lifers. Throughout our journey, we have met some amazingly beautiful and talented musicians who have become part of our extended family. We are often reminded of this global network of compatriots, sometimes in beautiful ways and sometimes in heavier ones.

Last Friday’s attacks touched us through our friend and fellow road-mate, Greg Humphreys, who was a few miles from the tragedy with his wife and child . You can see Greg’s beautiful post of him singing an Allen Toussaint song here to get a feel for the soul he has. We were also touched through our connection to Eagles of Death Metal band member, Dave Catching. As you might have heard, Eagles of Death Metal were the group playing at the Bataclan Theatre that suffered the greatest attack. I had the luck of meeting Dave Catching during my tenure living in Los Angeles. Dave is also the purveyor of the fabulous studio, Rancho De La Luna in Joshua Tree, CA, which has become world famous in rock-n-roll circles. What I remember about my short time with him was how kind and vast he was as a human. Both David and Greg are safe after the attacks, but this connection kept me up late in the evenings over the weekend pondering the heaviest of the impact on our musical tribe. Tragically, Eagles of Death Metal lost their merchandise manager in the attacks; he was connected to several of our friends.

My mentor and friend, Charlie Wine, was a long time friend of Maestro Leonard Bernstein. Charlie was a great believer in the awesome power of music and that in its blueprint were tools to change the world. On Friday, I was reminded of this Leonard Bernstein quote that Charlie showed me after the 9/11 attacks:

“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, and more devotedly than ever before”

This quote changed my life because it gave context and purpose to what was, at the time, a confused path as a musician. The soundtrack of history is written by luminaries who used music as a platform for change. One of my favorites is the story of cello great Pablo Casals conducting a symphony in the city of Barcelona while they were being bombed by the fascist forces of Franco. It was this defiance that I see echoed in Bernstein’s quote.

This defiance renewed my commitment to wake up each day and create something beautiful with the gifts that I have been given whether they be great or small. Music matters in the face of violence because it is one of the single greatest tools of human expression that can transmit the power of love to the world.

Steve and I are were blessed to spend an entire day at The Steward School in Richmond, VA  using our visual-music app ORO as a tool to interact, collaborate, teach and learn with hundreds of students. We felt lucky to be able to do so, and blessed that this is part of our lifelong path.

We did so with greater gusto, because we ARE musicians and it is our duty to spread the transcendent power of  music in the face of what is happening. It’s a small gesture on our part and it’s not heroic in some senses of that word, but it’s our life and we believe that it connects us to our fellow creators, to our community, and to the best parts of humanity.  Our prayers go to those affected by these dark events–may healing be swift.

Craig, COO and Lifelong Musician