THE CONSTRUCTIVE POWER OF MUSIC

Issue : February / March 2016 Elite Performance
 

          Music can have an impact on the world. A sound vibration at a certain frequency is able to fit into a harmony that can stimulate the mood of human beings.

          An evening tea party on the topic “Music is Powerful” was held to underline the point. Frank Herrgott, a French pianist who works in Bangkok, was invited as speaker at the event at the Russian Embassy in mid-November. Mr Herrgott is also a composer, music instructor at Rangsit University and producer under the label Bing Factory Music. And he believes that music is not just a form of entertainment but consists of vibrations with the power to create a better world.

          “The first thing you have to know is why you have to play music,” he said. “If there is no such need or sense of urgency to devote yourself to music then you don’t need to become a musician. Music is a language of sound that actually you don’t have to play – but listen to what your heart tells you.”

          When he discovered that passion for music in himself, Frank Herrgott started playing piano at the age of nine. He pursued an education in classical and jazz piano at the Conservatoire de Strasbourg in France and later at Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA.

          He suggested that the harmonious vibrations of music harbour a mystic power. A tone can be dull or resonate with the power to create pleasure or to stimulate people to create positive change.

          While some musicians seek reputation and social status, Mr Herrgott insists that being a musician is a matter of listening to the heart and loving what you do. As a pianist he is sometimes overly enthusiastic to please people with his music, and has to remind himself that this kind of ego can obstruct musicians from finding true pleasure from the profession.

          The pianist suggested that performing music follows a similar mechanism to Buddhist philosophy, of being in the present and aware of the moment. “You just sit at the piano, play the notes without thinking of anything except the beauty of the sound. In this state of mind I always imagine my audience as thirsty. And the sound of the songs is like waving water nourishing their heart.”

          As a university instructor, Frank Herrgott has found that the younger generation of musicians is also absorbed with social stigma. Many students are so concerned with the theories, techniques or their future musical careers that they forget to listen to the music. When children begin learning piano, most teachers focus on technical lessons and judging whether the notes played are theoretically right or wrong. This experience gradually forms unartistic thoughts and can hinder young musicians from appreciating the true value of music.

          Mr Herrgott thinks that what distinguishes great musicians from the rest is the way they believe in music. The great artists believe in the power of sound to make changes on earth. Music is not just a form of entertainment but an instrument to lift society.

          In reality, however, the world is faced with various forms of violence and terrorism, and it is doubtful whether musicians and their instruments could reclaim peace out of brutality. The French pianist admits that the communication of musical language is obstructed by external factors.

          “As if we are sitting in an Italian restaurant having a gastronomic meal. You can feel the texture of the meat we are biting. A person on the other side of the same restaurant doesn’t notice this pleasure. Obviously, we don’t have the same capacity to appreciate the same thing. We might not have the unity. Some people are not ready to hear messages of peace.”

          Mr Herrgott instead focuses on being a good man and trying to leave behind a good world. He and his musical partners are currently using vibrations to create goodwill in society. He set up his own production house, Bing Factory Music, and is producing five songs featuring well known Thai artists for an EP called Frank Herrgott & Friends.

          With a lively and positive tone, the project is meant to lift listeners’ lives through the different subjects of the songs, such as love, peace and sorrow. Featuring Apiwat Eurthavornsuk, or Stamp, the first song from the project was released in late November and is called Tour-Ak-Sorn, meaning letter in Thai.

          Behind the lively beats and piano accompaniment, the lyrics reflect the phenomenon of our cyber society. Tour-Ak-Sorn, composed and sung by Apiwat, is based on the freedom of speech and internet anonymity that can allow people to express hate speech against others, especially public figures they don’t know. The lyrics can apply to anyone’s life, while the message encourages listeners to believe in themselves and love the way they are.

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