music and joy

“Singing brings joy to people. You just need to look at people’s faces when they sing.”  Maryam Ghaffari, founder of Got Soul choir

It’s becoming more and more difficult these days to look at the world around me with joy. As the problems mount, and the news drips out its steady beat of grim stories filled with hubris and suffering, where on earth can I find joy?

When I contemplate the bigger picture I see a self-made mess, rather than the Better Life embedded in all the promises of civilisation. Ecological crisis, economic strain, political chaos, bigotry and violence, and the deep dysfunction of our institutions… and to top it all off for fuck’s sake, the potential extinction of giraffes. Those graceful, gorgeous creatures are now officially endangered. Where is the joy?

Where indeed? In the last week alone I have witnessed: the birth of a much-wanted and much-loved tiny new baby; extraordinary generosity and kindness from friends; collective effort from a whole network of long-distance family and friends to arrange their hectic schedules during the mayhem of the holiday season, in order to see me when I visit. Joy is still there, up close and personal. It comes in small packages but it packs a big punch.

Music is like that: a three-minute song can last a lifetime in one’s mind and heart. Whether the sweet melancholy lament of minor chords or the jumping beat of a pop song, the soft croon of a lullaby or the tingling anticipation of a Christmas carol – music and singing deliver their own magical gift of ineffable, enduring joy.

Unpsychology magazine invites you to share that joy in its next issue, which explores the role of music and dance as a response to the world’s mixed blessings. We are accepting submissions until 31st December – read more about the call for submissions and guidelines here.

As long as there is music, there will be joy.


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