After writing yesterday’s post, and realizing that I tend to attach music to my essays to give them depth, I thought I’d just write a musical essay. Below, you will find a list of songs, all of which I consider to be profoundly provocative for one reason or another. I’ve also tagged each with an emotional association.

A note: most of the pieces don’t have vocal parts, and if they do it is in the form of an accompanying choir. Some of the pieces are long(ish), and I consider these to have value in their buildup. The final release and climax of the songs are just that, and they have the same sort of emotional rhythm as sex (I don’t consider this to be crude–it just is, and it is beautiful).

There are so many more songs than these that I love, but I’ve only included eleven, and they are all roughly on the positive side of the emotional spectrum. But there are plenty of songs that I love that make even rage and wrath seem beautiful. For a Spotify link to the playlist, click here. Otherwise, I’d recommend copying and pasting the song name and source into YouTube for the full length of each.

1. “Forbidden Friendship” from the How to Train Your Dragon soundtrack (my favorite soundtrack):

  • Emotional associations: discovery, soaring above clouds to meet the sun, triumph, self-actualization.
  • Emotional climax begins at 2:48.

2. “Coming Back Around” from the How to Train Your Dragon soundtrack:

  • Emotional associations: earned happiness, sweet reward, celebratory triumph.
  • Buckle up at 1:08, and remain seated until the song’s conclusion. I listen to the part at 2:18 at full volume. It’s worth the ear drums. Do not listen to this while driving a car unless you are fine with your foot involuntarily accelerating the car in response to the music.

3. “To the Spaceport” from the Treasure Planet soundtrack:

  • Emotional associations: sense of adventure.
  • If you don’t want to hop a steamship to the new world by 1:14 in this song, we are very different people.

4. “Romantic Flight” from the How to Train Your Dragon soundtrack (you thought I was done with it. I’LL NEVER BE DONE WITH IT).

  • Emotional associations: beauty, romance, sweetness
  • Brace for the part at 1:27.

5. “The Ludlows” from the Legends of the Fall soundtrack:

  • Emotional associations: a sunset over the full big sky of the American plains, connection to the events of long ago.
  • 4:44 adds the final bittersweet tinge to this song.

6. “Planet Earth II Suite” from the Planet Earth II soundtrack

  • Emotional association: pure, unadulterated exaltation. If I were to start my own church, this song would be its anthem and only hymn.
  • This song is short, and yet takes a while to build. It is possibly my favorite piece of music. The brief hint of profundity that appears at 1:42 only increases until the climactic end of the song. It’s like the feeling of waves going in and out at high tide. The water leaves, and comes back a little higher. It leaves, and then comes back a little higher. All at once, without noticing, you’re inundated at the 3:00 mark.

7. “Alice’s Theme” from the Alice in Wonderland soundtrack:

  • Emotional associations: to abscond, to flee to adventure, the feeling of being surrounded by old New England brick and lore, “follow if you dare.”

8. “No Time for Caution” from the Interstellar soundtrack:

  • Emotional associations: inevitability, accepting mortality, foreboding, finality.
  • The organ introduction at 0:44, and the way the instrument is woven throughout the rest of the song, gives it all meaning for me.
  • When I listen to this song on a high quality sound system, my body jerks at the impacts beginning at 2:35–they’re such that the audio feels like it should be a solid impacting mass.

9. “Heart of Courage” by Thomas Bergerson (the only song on this list not from a soundtrack):

  • Emotional associations: this is Sparta, ferocity, resolution, strength.
  • It really is Sparta.

10. “Hedwig’s Theme” from the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone soundtrack:

  • Emotional associations: connection with humanity (humanity has few things in common, but Harry Potter is one of them), deliberate progression and pressing forward, flying over and under and around.

11. “God Yu Tekem Laef Blong Mi” from the The Thin Red Line soundtrack:

  • Emotional associations: the relief that follows bereaved weeping; a soul departed to peace.
  • This song comes and goes in waves, with repetitions on the theme building as the song goes. 1:29 is its height.

This post is part of my project to write one essay every day of February 2018. The essay topics will vary, but they’ll all be something I’m interested in. All essays can be found here.