Through the Eyes of a Musician


Finn Ryan

Mu·sic.  /ˈmyo͞ozik/.  An arrangement of melody and rhythm that, when composed, produces an experience and expression of sound.  A cornerstone of culture, music has woven itself through virtually every society.  It builds bridges between communities, educates listeners and serves as a time capsule.  Since the dawn of time, music, in both secular and sacred forms, has influenced all aspects of culture — linguistics, values, conventions and fashion.  There is nothing quite as universal as music, spanning from the percussion of Djembes in West African ensemble to the room and recording studio of RHS freshmen student, Niva Menon. You can listen to Niva’s song Better by clicking here. 

Niva’s passion for songwriting was born in childhood fantasies of popstar fame.  “It never occurred to me,” she explained “that many artists employ writers.  I thought that the only option was to self-write and produce.”  Her artistry only augmented with time.  Figures, including Adele and Harry Styles, shaped Niva’s technique and lyrics.  Much of her self-assurance, further, can be attributed to the support and encouragement from her parents.  The two applauded their daughter’s work, which, as she noted, “boosted my confidence.”

When crafting her melodies and experimenting with lyrics, Niva adheres — though loosely — to a creative process.  “If we are truly being honest, my most innovative moments are when I’m simply doing homework.”  From there, Niva shifts her concentration to the instrumental, sampling chords that reflect her tone.  The amalgamation of an animated melody and compelling lyrics is cardinal to songwriting — so too is culture.  “From a young age,” Niva began, “I have learned Hindustani classical music to keep in contact with my roots.”  The style of music allows for great creativity, through lengths of improvisation and harmonic rhythm.  “It helps me see the genre of music in a completely new light.  I can express the culture I have been brought up in and share it with the world.”

At the heart of music is a story — a symphonic and enthralling narrative.  Intentional or not, artists draw upon anecdotes when drafting their pieces.  Taylor Swift, for instance, is as much a storyteller as she is a singer.  Miss Americana leaves her listeners with not only a catchy tune, but a chronicled experience.  Niva aspires to capture a similar sentiment in her music.  “I look into what is happening in the world.  I know many people find themselves stressed and frustrated… I take inspiration from those feelings.”

The aforementioned emotions reached their climax during the height of COVID-19.  “I remember sitting down at my piano and thinking ‘I have nothing to write about.’”  Social isolation manifested itself as a tenacious songwriter’s block.  As the novelty subsided and the seclusion evolved into a tolerable normalcy, Niva channeled her thoughts into lyrics.  Production opportunities, moreover, doubled in quantity, with the transition onto exclusively virtual platforms.  “Many started using technology as their number one resource, meaning I could share my work with anyone.” 

Bridie Schwarz, a freshmen student, actor and singer, also experienced the repercussions of the pandemic, as it pertains to music.  “Quarantine was a period of creativity,” Bridie said.  “I knew I wanted to put something out there, but I didn’t know what to do and when.  Eventually, I began learning songs [on the guitar] and started recording.”  On May 9, 2020, Bridie uploaded her first video to her YouTube Channel, a cover of Adele’s Someone Like You.  With YouTube as her medium, Bridie could occupy herself, ensuring that she did not fall subject to the paralyzing solitude that was COVID-19.

Beyond self-recording, Bridie takes part in the School Musical, where she finds her voice in both singing and a community.  “There is a family in music.  You connect with people of all different backgrounds and lives.”

Music serves as a means of expression, an escape from the present into the ravishing world of Spotify and Voice Memos.  It is a quintessential symbiotic relationship — the sea anemones and clownfish of pop-culture.  The artist tells their story, while the listener internalizes it and makes it their own.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a song is worth a million.