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Celebrating Life – and Death – with Music

By Sue Kemple, CEO, My Last Soundtrack

When my father was dying, I often found myself turning to music – as a source of comfort, as a means of distraction, and certainly as a way of making sense of a most profound experience. The piece that most often would accompany my meandering thoughts was Ennio Morricone’s Gabriel’s Oboe. I made no mental connection to the movie in which it was featured, the scene with the Jesuit missionary using his instrument to try and communicate with the natives.

Instead, it communicated something to me. A sense of wonder, mystery, and even deep peace in the midst of a gently creeping grief. How? I don’t know, but legendary French Requiem composer Hector Berlioz might hint at the answer, referring to the sounds of the oboe as being “suitable for expressing simplicity, artless grace, gentle happiness… or the grief of a weak soul.”

As a drummer, I’d be the first to note that it’s not just the oboe that expresses such qualities. Music of all genres is a universal language that speaks to every experience of the human condition. It transcends words, whether lyrics are involved or not, and it’s a mysterious conduit to what lies beyond. I believe that whatever awaits us outside this existence and outside time must be soaked with music more beautiful than anything the most brilliant symphonist on Earth could compose. The human imagination has not been captivated for millennia by the notion of choirs of angels in heaven for nothing.

So what medium could be better than music to approach, to explore, and even to embrace the idea of our own mortality?

And how better to deal with our own mortality than to celebrate – with music – the life we’ve lived along the way?

My Last Soundtrack is a tool designed to do just that – help you curate and share the music that tells the story of your life, through the lens of your death.

What songs define you? When you have gone to meet your maker, what songs will resonate with those you’ve left behind? What will remind us of you? What songs in this world helped you spend a little time contemplating what will become of you in the next? Use our playlist tool, create your own “final playlist,” then share it with the world on social media.

My father’s playlist might have included Simon and Garfunkel, but probably not Gabriel’s Oboe. That’s because it played no part in his life.

But it’s on my list, because it’s surely played a part in mine.

Sue Kemple is the CEO of My Last Soundtrack.

Editor’s note: The Digital Beyond’s Evan Carroll is a board member and advisor for My Last Soundtrack.

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