Stories of Music offers the reader (listener? Viewer?) An emotionally satisfying journey through the world of music, as Holly E. Tripp weaves the stories of more than 40 authors and artists, from 11 countries, telling in their own words and mediums how music has influenced their lives. I found it to be a very moving book.
Growing up in a musical family, Tripp was fascinated by the stories of her great-grandmother, especially the one where she held “jam sessions” over a phone line. Her own parents gave Tripp a guitar when she was 16, and she has been writing and playing music ever since. But it was after the sudden death of her brother that she fully realized the impact of music on emotions – and healing – as the songs that kept coming to her brought him closer to her and her. ‘were helping to cope with his death.
When she started this book, Tripp says she called for contributions from authors and artists, thinking she would be lucky if she got 100. Instead, more than 1000 were sent to her inbox and she carefully chose which ones she thought represented people. universally, and better told about the impact of music on individuals to provide pleasure, hope, healing and impact on their lives. The result is an interactive, multimedia book that contains stories, poems, photographs, music and videos that readers can listen to and watch on their mobile devices.
I love the presentation of the anthology. The first poem (which I listened to the poet read aloud) is about music woven through generations in an old house. Then the stories move forward in time, with the stories of artists from their childhood to adulthood, about the impact of music on their lives. My favorite photo is at the end of the book, of an old pair of hands clutching sheet music. “Music,” says Tripp, “… transcends religion, race, language and even time.”
There are funny stories of music and children; a powerful poem on the civil rights marches; and a story about how music helps an artist’s home country, Bosnia, heal after war. There are hard-hitting stories of bringing Mozart’s music to a prison and using rock music to help heal depression. And there is the history of traveling musicians, from the beginning of time to a group that currently participates in the Massachusetts Walking Tour every year. Another story (with music included) of a cellist – who connects the generations through “Le Cygne” by Saint-Saëns – is beautiful to read and listen to. It’s almost impossible to pick a favorite, but I was truly touched by the story of an interview with Glen Campbell shortly after his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in 2011.
Stories of Music is a wonderful book, which I struggled to write. There were times when it made me cry over the moving examples of how music had touched – and often saved – lives. It also made me smile, as one artist describes how children in Haiti enthusiastically play music after their meals, even more excited about the music than the food.
Tripp has done a wonderful job bringing music to life and showing that music does speak a universal language. Regardless of their country or origin, religion or political belief, the artists in this book all have one thing in common: Music has an impact on their lives and they use it to communicate their hearts.
I would recommend this book to anyone, musician or non-musician. Tripp plans to publish a second volume, and I can’t wait to read it.