Updated: Jan 27
The COVID-19 epidemic has caused many people to become stressed. So many aspects of life once taken for granted are now called into question, leaving many disheartened. Music is a known aid for relieving stress and is now easily accessible to many people; anyone with access to the internet is able to access millions of pieces of music. Below are a few pieces and songs-- in no particular order-- that have helped me escape from the stresses of my life and relax.
1. As a Korean living in the United States, I have listened to my fair share of Kpop. However, I dislike pop music in general as one pop song sounds about the same as another to me. (I am by no means demeaning any group or artist. They are wonderful in their own way and have worked very hard to produce their music.) IU was different in that her music diverged from typical mainstream trends, making her music stand out. The beautiful lyrics and sweet melodies seemed to tell me I had support and was not alone in struggling.
2. “Merry-Go-Round of Life” from Howl’s Moving Castle by Studio Ghibli
I have grown up in Studio Ghibli movies and have never found a Studio Ghibli that did not have an amazing soundtrack. Although it is very hard to pick a favorite, I would have to say Howl’s Moving Castle is my favorite Studio Ghibli movie. To avoid spoilers, I won't divulge anything about the plot, but this piece is particularly striking when put into context. The piece exemplifies life quite well with its repeating riffs, minor key, and a quiet sort of grandness to it.
3. “You Will Be Found” from Dear Evan Hansen
I had the privilege of seeing Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway while on a school trip to Washington D.C. and New York. The musical was one that was relatable for a wide range of ages, albeit not suitable for younger children, and the score was well written. This particular song helped me as its lyrics are saying that someone will help you when you most need it.
4. “Nearer My God to Thee”
While this piece is a church hymn, I actually included it because of its use in the 1997 film Titanic. In the film, a string quartet plays this as the Titanic slowly becomes waterlogged. The sad, sweet melody seemed to alleviate any pain I felt on my soul.
5. “Becoming the Wind” from Mr. Sunshine
Although this song is from the K-drama Mr. Sunshine, it was not because of this drama that I found this song particularly healing. Rather, it was because of a South Korean TV program called Phantom Singer 3, a music competition show that chose a male quartet, that I found this song. The lilting melody and sweet lyrics made me feel at ease during this summer as I kept this song on constant repeat.
6. “Thank You” by RabidAnce
RabidAnce, derived from “rabid” and “guidance,” was one of the three finalist groups on Phantom Singer 3. This team was my favorite, so I kept them in the back of my mind, hoping they would continue to work together after the show. They did, and came out with this song. It was particularly befitting eth difficult times during the coronavirus as the melancholy melody and lyrics combined comforted me by telling me that despite these hard times, someone had gotten comfort from me and someone had given comfort to me.
7. Waltz No. 19 in A minor, B. 150, KK IVb/11, P. 2/11 by Frederic Chopin
I have had piano lessons since a very young age and, consequently, have come to find comfort in playing the instrument. This is one of my favorite pieces to play. Something about the minor key and lilting tune appeals to me.
8. “To a Wild Rose” by Edward Macdowell
This is another piano piece that I have always enjoyed playing. The melody, befitting the title, is sweet with a tinge of sadness, as if reflecting the hard life a beautiful, delicate wild rose has. The piece a stable undercurrent of sustained chords, reflecting the hardiness even a rose must have to survive in the wild. Consequently, I felt his piece reflected the lives of every person living through the pandemic: we all have meaningful, fragile lives that we live through with tenacity and quiet strength, even in the hardest of times