The Greatest Recyclable

You know the mantra, “reduce, reuse and recycle”. On this Labour Day, we are reminded of the toil and hardships we and other workers bear to earn money and also make this society a whole lot better. We’re reminded of the endless work of garbage collectors and sweepers. They never get a day’s rest, because we never stop littering for a day. To make their lives more comfortable, we should dispose of less waste and instead find new ways to use this waste for other ends.

I don’t know how my brain formed the link, but isn’t music the greatest recyclable ever? It leaves no waste, takes up little space (even digitally) and we play it over and over and over and over again. The best part is that now, music is free of charge as well, most of the time, when you download it. And so you pay nothing for a renewable supply of mood boosters that help the environment!

It can be surprising how many times we can listen to the same 5-minute song without resenting it. True, there’s always a limited number of times we can listen to a song before we have to shelve it for others, but someday we may pick it back up again and remember the feeling of affection we had for it. How strange it is, that a short arrangement of beats, instruments and a person’s voice can stir up such feelings in us. Music can be so elusive.

Of course, music has to be played by something. Instruments themselves are also very reusable. You can play them for a few years and about a few hundred songs if you’re creative. Music players are also recyclable, but only to a small degree and that was what environmentalists and commercial companies say. We don’t know if the metal parts in an MP3 are really recyclable, but environmentalists insist on it, and insist that we have to trade our handphones and batteries in so that they can get poor people in China to pick out the radioactive metals for recycling purposes, as sanctioned by big recycling companies. You may want to check out the uglier side to recycling for a clearer picture of this.

The most environmentally friendly way of listening to music, I suppose, is to ditch the instrument or music player and just play the song mentally over and over again. Some songs do stick in our heads because they’re so catchy, and sometimes if we’ve memorised the song enough we can sing it out word for word. Who needs the music player anymore then? This is absolutely the cheapest way to enjoy your existing music. I wonder why people still listen to music they already know in their heads. I suppose it’s because every song has a new nuance to it everytime you listen. Your brain can remember the brevity of the music, the rough tune and vocals and maybe the more significant guitar riffs, but when you listen to the song again, after you’re desensitised to the vocals and guitar riffs, you may catch aspects you never noticed before, like a background drum rhythm or a shrill whistle before the chorus, or even the subtle qualities of the vocalist. So with every new listen, you make a new discovery, or are reminded of things you’ve forgotten before. I know I sometimes distort the tunes of songs I know too well, and need reminding once in a while that the tune’s much more complex than that, and maybe my little mind isn’t musical enough to appreciate and retain every facet of it.

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