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How Music Comforts Us

We often turn to music for comfort, but have you ever wondered just how music does comfort us?  How it works? The first thing music does is banish silence.  Silence is a loneliness of the senses, an absence.  Music is a presence: it provides us with a companion, and sometimes a distraction. Music also moves us – literally.  We feel its vibrations in our bodies, and it has the power to get us moving again, physically, when we’ve been stunned or stilled by sadness.     One of the things we look for when we’re suffering is empathy, the sense that somebody else understands our feelings. Well, we’re linked with composers by our common humanity, and if a composer has found a compelling way to express his own feelings, then he can’t avoid expressing ours as well. Last but not least, there’s something profoundly comforting in what Joseph Conrad called “the inexhaustible joy that lives in beauty.”  Even in our darkest moments, music reminds us by its own beauty and wonders that life itself can still hold many beauties, and many joys.

A Minute with Miles - a production of ETV Radio made possible by the JM Smith Corporation.

Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.