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Communications 201: Clichés, confusion; What are we really trying to say?

By Charlotte Cerminaro
web posted July 31, 2017

Over the past century the human race has changed more than at any other time in our knowable history. The inventions and innovations that have made the last 100 years so remarkable have also changed our thinking, our vocabulary, our motivations and our very definition of reality. These things seem to be continually shifting under our feet even now. But our changing ideas about something, or our misuse of it, does not change its fundamental nature.

These alterations in usage and perception, truth and reality, have occurred in every part of our lives, without exception. If we consider language and our current use (or overuse) of certain words, much of our vocabulary has been watered-down, trivialized and robbed of its original meaning. Examples abound in television and movie writing, where certain words are used so often, out of context, that they have become clichés. Words like: hope, faith, love, bravery-- yes, they are just words, but the ideals behind them are some of the most powerful motivators of humanity.

The music and art industry is suffering a similar fate. Most modern composers, musicians and artists have forgotten (or never knew) their purpose. It has become another outlet for political expression and personal gain. But this is clearly not true art. Throughout history, the one universal constant in music and art was to inspire, refresh, or simply give peace to the soul of the beholder. The artist conveyed and gave voice to things for which we have no words. The music of Mozart is still being played all over the world today because he sculpted the most exquisite, achingly beautiful sounds it is possible to elicit from any human. There is no pretense, no purpose other than a desire to give beauty and sustenance to an otherwise broken and difficult world. Rembrandt’s paintings are still popular in museums because his emotional power and sublime restraint communicate our deepest yearnings and highest aspirations. The talented musician and artist must reach deep down inside themselves and find something unique, personal yet universal, so that the audience immediately finds understanding, empathy, and a momentary, refreshing glimpse of unearthly transcendence.

It is indeed rare to find the desire, or even the willingness, to rise above the easy, the trivial and the careless ideas that have pervaded our civilization. Most people within a population do not want to be seen as “different”, and many people become afraid just thinking about standing out, resisting mediocrity, fighting clichés and lies. But once in a while, somebody unique comes along who is capable of encouraging others, using their skills and talent in humility and service. And if you are fortunate enough to be inspired by one of these people, that word ‘hope’ can turn into a realization, that it is possible to change things, and sustenance to help get through those difficult times. ESR

Dedicated to the memory of James Horner

Charlotte B. Cerminaro is a Juilliard-trained classical musician who, in addition to being a studio and orchestral musician, enjoys writing. © 2017

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