Storytelling is the way for people to convey events in words, images, and sounds. It allows people to be entertained, educated, preserve culture or instill moral values. The world has diverse cultures, so stories are shared in many different ways. However, all stories should include similar elements: plot, characters, and narrative point of view. A story that can be related to your audience effectively inspires and compels people to want more or take action.
Michael Tilson Thomas is the Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony, Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony, and Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra. To be honest, I never knew about him until I watched a presentation he did for TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), on music and emotion through time. It is an overview that traces the development of classical music through the development of written notation, the record, and the remix.
Thomas’s presentation is only twenty minutes long, but he packs it with such great theory and visual evidence to intrigue and capture his audience. It is amazing the way music has evolved over time, the way it has formed us to like different sounds, or to even communicate in different ways. And technology has played a huge role in this. According to Thomas, “Technology democratized music by making everything available…it pushed composers to tremendous extremes, using computers and synthesizers to create works of intellectually impenetrable complexity beyond the means of performers and audiences.”
Basically, what he is saying is that long ago music was written and shared on a more personal, intimate level. There was no Internet, no CDs, no record players or even radios. Music was written with little scribbles or symbols until it evolved into the more formal notation we have today. Music was performed in theatres or sung personally to others, whether in groups or individually. Yes, this is still done today, but the idea behind the fact is that there was no medium to transmit or share music in various locations simultaneously. Thomas says, “by taking over the role that notation had always played, technology shifted the balance within music between instinct and intelligence, way over to the instinctive side.”
Thomas conveys his story well and is sure to inspire anybody interested in music to delve deeper into the theory and history of music itself. And even if you are not inspired to learn more about the theory and history of music, we are all effected by music in one way or another. Simply knowing a little more information than we already know can be valuable. Listen to and focus on the story Thomas shares about how music “sticks” with a person when the music stops. Think about that. If you heard a song ages ago and one day it just pops in your head or you start to play it on some instrument. What does that mean to you? Why is that piece of music so important? Does it begin to tell your own story?
Think of it this way, if you are a musician, a band, or business, you need to have a story. Everyone has a story—but is your story one that people are going to follow? Is it a story that people are going to be inspired by or compelled to take action? Is it one that people are going to be educated or entertained by? Think about what your story has been and where you would like it to go. Write it down. Tell somebody else. Manifest it the way you think will attract others. But you have to make sure it is genuine to the audience you are trying to reach. Your life or business is an open book. What is your story? Do people want to know about it?