Music has the power to enrich and transform, often in surprising and unexpected ways. Whether it’s a simple melody or a memorable performance, music invites us to critically reflect upon and listen to the stories and people that compose our worlds.

As English graduate student Tereza Walsbergerová writes in her contribution, music is more than just orchestrated sound. Rather, it makes up the aural texture of our personal lives: a hug, a kind word, a deep breath. For Walsbergerová, the humanities “provide a platform that lets us, the students and the scholars, the writers and the readers, stop and listen” to the musical interactions that make up the fabric of our lives. 

Both intensely personal and communal, music is a medium through which to engage the world and one another, allowing us to forge connections across geographical and cultural borders. Musician Parthenon Huxley recalls that the yearning of Greek youths to experience censored 1970s American rock music was so extreme that the release of the film Woodstock in Athens caused riots. Student Kelsey Smith shares how contemporary Korean pop music encouraged her to embrace her unique interests and idiosyncrasies. Finally, musical theater instructor Averill Corkin describes how a song from a Swedish musical allowed her to understand the struggle of refugees and displaced persons. 

Find these stories and other ways in which music has shaped the lives of contributors below.