Self discovery through music
How MVHS students’ interpretation of music helps them grow personally and emotionally
Whether it be the lyricism, instrumentals, song production or melodies of a piece, music serves as an outlet that speaks to emotional interpretations, diverse perspectives and in-the-moment feelings as a source of comfort. View the stories of three MVHS students’ personal experiences with music below.
For senior Akshat Rohatgi, getting motivated for high stakes events, such as preparing for an AP exam, requires him to boost his energy through listening to one of his favorite artists, Aries. He claims that his relationship with music is further enhanced because of the impact it has on his emotions, which elevates his music listening experience.
While Rohatgi is an avid listener of many genres of music, he finds that music plays different roles in different situations. For him, music helps him learn more about his tastes and how he could adapt to different situations with a specific song, such as listening to empowering music before high stakes events.
“I normally listen to music a lot when I’m doing work or I’m in the shower,” Rohatgi said. “In a way, I treat it as [an outlet] that keeps me focused when I’m doing work, but also something that keeps me relaxed and kind of just is in the background when I’m doing other casual stuff.”
For Rohatgi, music helps ground his emotions and thoughts so that he isn’t quick to assume or judge events.
“I feel like all it comes full circle back to how music really changed my personality,” Rohatgi said. “I think its definitely kept me more aware of everything, more appreciative of everything.”
Rohatgi also sees music as a conversation starter — listening to various genres or up-and-coming artists have led him to befriend a diverse set of people. According to Rohatgi, there is “so much to talk about” for songs because a piece is a “collaboration between the instrumentals and the production of the music.” He says music has helped build a social aspect to his personality by learning to value other people’s musical views.
“I’ve built much stronger relationships with some of my friends just through music,” Rohatgi said. “Obviously that’s not the main goal of music, but I feel like one of the best parts of music is just how much [there is]. It’s so expansive — [for instance], cultural music [can be] passed down through different cultures.”
As a 10-year and continuing piano player, now sophomore June Wang admires how a sheet of music can convey significant levels of emotion — even without an artist singing or rapping any actual lyrics. Wang is able to relate the beautiful melodies of the piano to her own moods as a source of comfort or casual listening.
A piano piece that Wang particularly likes to play is Yiruma’s “Kiss the Rain” — a slow and gentle rhythm paired with a blend of hopeful high notes and gloomy low notes. According to Wang, “Kiss the Rain” opens with low-end piano notes, which is able to communicate the sense of loneliness she feels when listening
“Later on in [‘Kiss the Rain’], there’s this beautiful two-part melody that flows up and down,” Wang said. “It’s really nice because it’s not rigid or anything. Because of its flowiness, it feels really aesthetically pleasing to listen to.”
According to Wang, songs that have a personal touch of someone else’s life, such as “Perfect Strangers” by Jonas Blue, “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars and “Outnumbered” by Dermot Kennedy have gradually shaped Wang’s character.
For Wang, music can help her channel her emotions and serves as a medium for her to empathize with the different situations that people are in. Wang believes that the emotional connections and perspectives formed through music allow her to translate this sentiment in real life. With this, Wang makes the effort to connect with her friends on a more empathic level.
“I think music has broadened my worldview,” Wang said. “I think it allowed me to empathize with others [through] hearing all these people’s perspectives, even if I don’t know them. Through their songs, [I would be like], ‘Wow, I didn’t know that people are going through this’ or ‘Wow, I didn’t know people could think like that.’”
Not only does MVHS Class of 2020 alumni Manish Malempati view music as a form of emotional connection between people, but he also sees music as a melting pot of unique experiences and individual stories of artists — a realization that only crossed his mind after moving to Ohio to attend college.
“Growing up in such a sheltered place like Cupertino, [listening to music] definitely … opens your mind to new perspectives in general because I’m out here in Ci
ncinnati and it’s a completely different place, but I feel like I fit in because I’m not sheltered like I used to be before,” Malempati said. “I’d [still] be some nerdy kid in Cupertino that would know next to nothing of pop culture.”
With this, Malempati believes that an exposure to newfound perspectives through music has allowed him to have more informed conversations with different people so that he “doesn’t seem ignorant.”
Malempati grew his interest in rap after listening to artists such as Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar, who are responsible for famous records such as “To Pimp a Butterfly,” and “808’s and Heartbreaks.” Malempati notes that the narratives that these artists tell are compelling stories that strike him as original and different from the mainstream.
“Compared to pop music, I felt like hip-hop [tells] a much richer story,” Malempati said. “With pop music, a lot of it’s just a love story. But then hip-hop [tells] a richer story about where [artists] come from, [such as] their experiences with fame.”
However, Malempati states that this is only one piece of the puzzle. While he does prefer listening to certain genres, he notes that the instrumental quality and presentation of songs from these artist’s discographies has helped him enjoy these records to a greater extent.
“I definitely put a lot of importance in the production of the song,” Malempati said. “Just [a song’s] production alone gets you feeling a certain way, like, say, ‘Flashing Lights,’ [and] ‘Duckworth’ … all these songs that have great production. The first moment you hear them, you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m going to feel amazing!’”
According to Malempati, the lyrical storytelling of these artists is a new take on the song-making scene. He states that the original stories of artists such as Kendrick Lamar are not only powerful, but also teach lessons that can be a blank canvas, open for interpretation. Malempati finds that while these records can be impactful for the masses, their ambiguous interpretations can mean different messages for each listener.
“I don’t want to sound like an artist did something in order to invoke a feeling in the listener,” Malempati said. “I feel like for some that may be an intent, but more often than not, the artist will put out a song or an album more so for themselves.”
Malempati sees himself listening to the same genre for the near future, stating that hip-hop has allured him more than any other type of music due to its originality and appealing mood.
“For the rest of my life, I will be listening to a lot more music than hip-hop,” Malempati said. “But I will always come back to hip-hop [and] R&B because [hip-hop] brings up the most raw emotion [to me]. It’s just an escape as far as stories go — no other genre has done that for me yet. [But] who knows? Something will change down the road. As far as now, I think I will stick with [hip-hop] for the foreseeable future.”