“If music be the food of love, play on!” These are the opening words of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy Twelfth Night. Apart from love for words, the greatest English writer of all times had an infatuation for two things no man can live without – music and romance.
Ingrained in our art and culture, music has been an integral part of our love-binding ordeals since ancient times. 100 years before Shakespeare’s birth, serenades by both laymen and “yonge fooles of the spiritualtie” were performed. During the Shakespearean era itself, opulent balls were organised where ritualistic love dances coupled youngsters. Nowadays, the first wedding dance holds sentimental significance as a commemoration of binding love.
Just like male birds singing to attract their female mates, we indulge in an array of musical expressions to elucidate and encapsulate our love. But the one tool that transcends the magic of love profoundly is musical instruments. From harp to flute, the diamond jeweller Angelic Diamonds takes us on a journey through the most romantic music instruments of all times to help us compose the sonata of our hearts.
The harp – ethereal strings
“I’m completely biased, as a harpist, but the ethereal quality of the instrument is why I believe harp is the most romantic,” says Brooke Knoll, assistant digital producer at Classical MPR.
Indeed, the gentle strings of the harp transcend cosmic sounds into enchanting music pieces which often take on the theme of love. Its strings are believed to form a ladder to higher realms of love in Norway and Iceland. In Celtic culture, the harp represents the bridge of love that connects Heaven and earth.
The instrument’s elysian qualities are often attributed to the angels and to the god of love, Cupid. Just like Cupid’s bow has the potency to entrance you in love, the harp can enchant you in the melody of love.
The lyre – orphic lyricism
In the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, Orpheus, the god of music and poetry, was playing the lyre gifted by his father Apollo in the woods when he noticed the beautiful wood nymph Eurydice. Orpheus was renowned for his astounding lyre-playing talent, and when the nymph heard him in the woods, she was swayed by the bewitching music of the god, and he was mesmerised by her splendid beauty. The two of them fell in love at first sight.
Unfortunately, the myth has a grim unfolding, but that’s often the case with spellbinding love stories. Nevertheless, the potency of the lyre to unite two people in the magic of love is still present in some of the most heartfelt music pieces. In Ancient Greece, the art of playing the lyre was honoured by aristocrats because of its ability to enlighten people in comparison to other transgressive music instruments such as drums or the flute.
According to another myth that narrates the death of Orpheus, when the god of poetry and music died, Zeus, of the gods of Mount Olympus, put Orpheus’ lyre in Heaven, and that’s how the Lyra constellation was formed.
The viola – a storyteller of love
A crossbreed between a violin and a cello, the viola prides itself in its gracious design that allows for versatile and intricate music pieces to be produced. In fact, it is said that violas have the potency to cast a love spell on two love birds.
When Steve Staruch, Classical MPR host, talks about one of the most iconic music pieces performed on a viola – ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’ by Arvo Pärt, he says: “…the viola line conveys a timeless quality… The whole piece is like a tender conversation between lovers.”
Viola is also the name of the protagonist from Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night and that of the poet’s secret lover who has inspired many of his masterful sonnets.
The guitar – orchestrated dreams
Who doesn’t love an acoustic guitar performance? Even the most hardcore metal song would melt your heart when played on a guitar.
It comes as no surprise that some of the most passionate musical genres, such as flamenco and bossa nova, are orchestrated by a guitar. And what about a sensual feminine voice that seduces lovers accompanied by the string instrument?
Andrés Segovia, the maestro of the guitar, says: “You don’t just listen to the guitar – you dream with it.” The guitar is a manifestation of our true desires; it can transcend any feeling through its aerial strings and can also imitate pretty much any instrument on this planet. It’s sensual, bewitching, and genius.
The piano – the keys of love
The piano is a gateway to one’s emotions. It has the power to elucidate sadness, infatuation, irritation, and passion. It is believed that “the pianist can bring the listener to enraptured ecstasy with little more than a touch of the keys”.
This cherished music instrument has evolved through the years, from the fortepiano in 18th century Vienna to the 88-key instrument we know today. And with every single enhancement, it’s becoming more and more romantic, allowing for vivid notes to narrate a love story.
Music instruments are cosmic tools that orchestrate songs of love. Their ability to elucidate feelings and emotions through notes make them the perfect love-binding magic wand. Get swept up in the angelic sounds of love.