I often hear sermons and talks, or read some uplifting article that compares life to music. In particular, they discuss major and minor keys; major, being the one that sounds happier and more vibrant and open, and is therefore the favorable one. Minor key sounds a little more somber and ominous, so choosing to stay in the minor is not ideal. Without fail, each message tends to push people to choose to live their life in major key.
I hate this illustration.
As it turns out, I happen to love music in the minor key. I find it gorgeous, powerful, and so deeply emotional. Most of my favorite songs and orchestral pieces are in minor.
And not all songs in major are particularly wholesome—they just tell a different story. Sure, some songs I like are also in major. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional pep, but really poppy and bright and exciting music can be exhausting after a while (at least for me… I’m sure deeply emotive music is exhausting for others).
So I don’t think that it’s fair to urge people toward a major key just because it sounds more uplifting. This is a very base judgment, and it paints minor key music in a negative light. Plus, it’s just not realistic. You don’t always get to choose to “live in” a major key. Minor key times—serious and sometimes solemn times—come. You can’t just force it to become major so that you can bury and ignore it. That’s not a healthy reaction.
I find that to be what’s beautiful about the minor key. It weeps with you, drives you forward, and, yes, it can even rejoice with you. It’s the quiet, awkward kid in the room that likes to collect bugs and lectures people on the importance of the Oxford Comma. But once you get to know her, you find layers of complexity and feelings that can’t always be expressed properly, causing her to be misunderstood and avoided.
Major key music is a little more straightforward. Sure, there are also layers, but at least to me, major key feels like that friend that doesn’t get too close, or the extrovert that meets you in a new group but doesn’t connect with you very deeply. They get you in the door; the kid with the bug collection keeps you coming back.
Major and minor keys serve different purposes. (Like Imperial March conveys a vastly different message when performed major.) Our lives will be filled with both. Major key may be “happier” and more “attractive,” but rather than advising people to strive for the major and avoid the minor, isn’t it wonderful that you can make beautiful music in minor key? These layers are carefully constructed to show all the wonderful moments of your life, including the more serious and melancholy ones. The victory fanfares that come at the end of a long phrase in minor is pretty epic, too, but they would feel less so attached to a major phrase.
Much of my life has been in the minor by most speakers’ portrayal of the minor key. Yet I find that beauty can rise above the ashes. I never want to repeat any of those times, nor do I wish them on anyone, but I sure do appreciate the lessons I learned and the ways I grew because of them.
Maybe this is why I love the minor key so much.