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Food for the soul

"This passage is beautiful," he said as he sight-read my melody. He played it again with his own accompaniment and suggested different ways it could develop.

Out of nearly thirty new pieces I wrote in the last four weeks I chose only a dozen of the best to present to the maestro. Out of these, only about seven were good enough to be worked on. For an hour, I listened and learned about creating beautiful music.

I suddenly understand why my mother enjoys painting, why my sister put her art above everything else, why my architect friend is so proud of his ceramics, and why my guitarist friend would rather play than teach music. The arts, the creation of something beautiful out of nothing, is food for the soul.

Amidst the humdrum of our daily existence, having the time to create something beautiful yet seemingly useless (in terms of functionality) is a privilege and a luxury.

I often complain to my architect friend (I shall call him ceramist from now on) why he keeps making useless objects of art. Why not make them into useful things such as vases, teapots, etc? His replies that he makes the art not the functionality.

By the same token, when I write a piece of music, I don't write it to make someone happy or sad. The best music sometimes just flows out of me, with no rhyme or reason.

I suppose the act of creating a beautiful piece of art, be it music, painting, sculpture, or poetry, must serve some purpose. Perhaps it's the hunger in our soul that seeks the food for the soul. Could it be that our need for self-expression and the creation of something beautiful is so great that we would dearly do it without getting paid?

As I leave the ancient building in this ancient city, I am confronted with the reality of the modern world of consumerism and technology in the shops that line the streets. When I get on the plane, I am reminded of the never-ending to-do list that awaits when I get home. At home, I see that my post consists of bills, another reminder of the not-so-exciting prerequisites of living in today's society.

The arts provides an escape from all this.. But it also elevates us to the top of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, for at the top, we self-actualise. And the process of creating something beautiful feeds our souls.

17 February 2004 Tuesday

New ceramic work by
Ayyub Malik
Related entries:
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Restoring a piano, restoring a soul
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Anne Ku at Ilp in May 2001
Anne Ku

writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page.
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