Music as soul

Screenshot from Angel.
Music is a portal to the soul. It creates emotions in us like nothing else can. There’s a reason most movies and television series have soundtracks, because the music can inspire viewers to feel a certain way.

The first episode of Angel season two, “Judgment,” introduces a crucial character to the series: Lorne, the green-skinned, red-horned demon who runs a karaoke bar called Caritas. Caritas, which is the Latin word for “mercy,” is a place of sanctuary: weapons are not allowed and a spell on it ensures that no demon violence can take place inside. Instead, humans and demons come to sing and receive advice from Lorne, for he has the ability to read a person’s soul when they sing.

Music moves us in ways nothing else can.

At the beginning of the episode, Angel, Wesley, and Cordelia are not able to find the demon they’re tracking, and so Wesley brings them to Caritas to talk to an associate; Wesley tells them that he’s been meaning to take them there, but that “it’s a little outside the box.” They meet Lorne, and when Cordelia asks who he is, Wesley says, “He’s connected to the mystic. When you sing you bare your soul. He sees into it.” Angel, of course, really does not want to sing, so Lorne says to him, “This isn’t about your pipes, bro, it’s about your spirit. I can’t read you unless you sing.”

Lorne is probably my favourite character from Angel. He comes from a demon dimension called Pylea where there is no music. The other members of his family, the Deathwok clan, also have mystical aura-reading abilities, but they use theirs when they hunt to track prey. Pylea is a brutal world and Lorne does not belong there, gentle soul that he is. He belongs in a world of show tunes and sea breezes.

I find his soul-reading ability fascinating; if there ever were a way to read someone’s soul, I think singing would be it. There a vulnerability that comes with singing, especially when you’re singing in front of other people; you’re already sharing a part of you that others don’t see as often.

“This isn’t about your pipes, bro, it’s about your spirit.”

Music is so tied to emotion. I’m not a musician, beyond playing the flute in high school, but I do know the sheer delight of singing with others in a choir. Time magazine reported on one study conducted by a team of Swedish researchers that found when people sing together in a choir, their heart rates sync up because they are breathing in unison. But there are emotional effects as well. Björn Vickhof, the team’s leader, noted that, “When people are singing slow songs together, waves of calming effect go through the choir.”

It interests me that Lorne comes from a world with no music, and yet it is so essential to his abilities. I wonder, with the absence of music, if he felt incomplete, like he was missing something from his soul. I can only imagine his joy upon entering this world and finally finding a purpose for his powers.

Music can compel our feet to dance, bring tears to our eyes. I think that’s why it’s so soul-full; it moves us in ways nothing else can.

Kyla Neufeld

Kyla Neufeld

Staff Writer at Area of Effect
Kyla is a poet, writer, and editor. She writes about various sci-fi and fantasy series, and is interested in the intersections between geek culture, feminism, and social justice. She lives in Winnipeg with her husband, the Sith Lord, and her daughter, the Nazgûl child.
Kyla Neufeld

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