Music is a powerful medium; able to capture the spectrum of human emotion like nothing else that exists. Music is as old as man himself, and it exists in some form in every culture that inhabits the earth. There is much speculation as to what makes music so powerful. Some would say that it is the mind behind the music, referring to the creator of the music itself, and some would say that the power is, in contrast, inherent in the music itself. The question boils down to whether music has intrinsic value.
Ethan Mullenax, a piano major, has been on a journey of musical discovery, to the end of discovering whether he believes that music has objective value beyond the scope of just the music itself. According to Mullenax, he has some certainty that music must have intrinsic value, even though it can be difficult to measure at times, since listening to music can be quite a subjective endeavor.
Music is a passion of Mullenax’s that has been seeded within him from an early age of learning to play the violin, when “staying at home playing violin wasn’t the cool thing to do.” Thankfully for those who are familiar with Mullenax’s music, he stuck with it despite it not being the cool thing to do, and despite the frustration of those around him when he banged on his first electric guitar as a kid.
Those power chords and “loud obnoxious open chords,” which “should never be played on an electric guitar,” have come a long way from those days to the release of Mullenax’s first solo project album, “The Primary Stages.” The album has a lot of raw emotional power, dealing with the ebb and flow of love, admittedly in a somewhat childish fashion. Mullenax makes it clear that he is not championing this album as the ideal picture of love, but rather the album “tells a story,” of love through it’s various stages of anger, pain, giddy happiness, and all of the other emotions in between. In short, it is a muse for the stage of life that Mullenax was in when he wrote these songs.
They tell a story that is an emotional roller coaster, fun in places, in your face in others, and still in others sad and melancholy. Despite its 6 song length, the album plays like a much longer story, even though each song is crafted in such a way to be a story in and of itself. While the songs could very well stand on their own, it should definitely be listened to from start to finish. The songs are not in chronological order in terms of when they were written, but it is a logical progression.
Mullenax invites you along to explore the stages of love, in this case the primary stages. His album is available for free download on Noisetrade. You can find a link to this on Mullenax’s blog at http://ethanmullenax.blogspot.com/ Don’t merely listen to the music, because listening can be a passive experience, and there is so much behind the music. It is a muse for every stage of life; be it wisdom or folly, it is a journey, as life is a journey.