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Magical World

Wouldn't it be lovely if, with just a twitch of the nose, life, or any aspect of it could be changed. Instead, positive changes always seem to involve tremendously hard work, determination, and endless setbacks. How lovely it would be to have the powers of Samantha Stephens.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Musings on music...

"When you play music you discover a part of yourself that you never knew existed." --Bill Evans

Once I told my husband that all my dreams are in color (vivid) and have a musical soundtrack. He gave me a weird look and asked, "How do you know? People don't remember all their dreams." Which I suppose is true, but I was only talking about the ones I remember. So then he admitted that he had no idea whether or not his dreams included colors and music, and determined to pay attention the next time he dreamed. He reported to me the next week that he remembered no colors, and no background music, although there was an annoying song that someone kept singing in one recent dream. My respect for him decreased significantly.

As a child I was drawn to anything musical. I remember my father taking me to a Native American ceremony. I listened to the chanting, singing, dancing. I felt it in my soul. I wanted to join them. One beautiful man in feathers lifted me in his arms and continued his rhythmic movements. I wanted him to dance with me forever. I was three years old.

That same year I learned to read. I remember my mother pointing to the individual words of a hymn as we sang, so that I could sing, too. I asked her why she sang a different song from the lady sitting next to her. She asked what I meant. I said, "You say the same words, but you sing a different song. It's pretty." Realizing I was talking about part-singing, she asked if I could sing her song with her. I did. Then she asked me to sing with the sister beside us. I did. Then I sang my dad's song with him, an octave (or two) higher. I told my mom her song was the prettiest that day.

There's something about creating music that stops time. It makes me catch my breath as I feel pure joy. There are times when I'm practicing that a certain passage cadences perfectly. I'll play it again, just to hear that moment of perfection. I say I'm practicing, but I'm not. I'm listening, feeling, staying in the moment. There is no need to practice that passage, but I play it anyway. The feeling of being able to create such sound is at once exhilerating and humbling. I'm amazed that the music has come from my hands. I'm grateful to the composer for giving me the gift of his musical thought. I'm entranced by the beauty which can be quiet, pensive, angry, intense, fast or slow, sometimes, even comical. I allow the emotions to sift through me during my hours of practice. I allow myself to be distracted by them, to be interrupted by them, to drown in them--because when I perform I cannot allow myself such luxury. Which isn't to say I don't put emotion into my performances, but it is controlled and appropriate, with none of the abandon which allows me to repeat passages incredible in their beauty, or to allow myself to improvise on an idea presented by the composer.

When I tell people that I practice many hours (although my daily hours currently are much fewer than they were when I was working on my music degrees), they look at me as if I'm insane, wondering how anyone could possibly work that hard. They miss the fact that it's a labor of love, and that the spiritual nourishment I receive in return is well worth the time. As my soul communes with myself, with dead poets and composers, with sound and touch, I fight the demons within me. I balance out feelings that threaten to overpower and devour. I pour my energies into a focused point, remove them from myself, and emerge unscathed and at peace. And in the process I create something of infinite worth and beauty, something I can share with others.

When I leave the physical act of creation behind, it lingers in my soul. My mind remembers the sounds and sensations of making the music. My feet trace the rhythms as I run. I close my eyes and see the black and white patterns as my ears hear the music in the silence. It sustains me, strengthens me, uplifts me--and brings me back day after day to work again at perfection. And every once in awhile I touch that perfection for which I strive, which reminds me that with a little work, my piece as a whole, can attain that same status.

And so I pour my soul into my practice time. I leave my emotions there. I commune with the dead and pay them obeisance. I emerge to deal with live people, happy face intact, feelings carefully controlled, funny and entertaining. I know they don't understand--only those who have experienced what I have just described could understand. I know they think I'm insane to waste my life in such a way--but they don't understand that this place is where my life begins. They believe my time should be spent more constructively--but they don't understand that I've just created beauty, a masterpiece, an extension of my soul.

Sometimes, I wonder if they dream in color. I wonder if the soundtrack to their dreams is as memorable as my own. I wonder if they take the time to remember, to listen. I never ask...but still, I wonder.


  • At Saturday, September 02, 2006 6:12:00 PM, Blogger Thirdmango said…

    I absolutly adore music. I've recently been creating my own music which has been really fun and very interesting as well, to see how my creative outlets work in that way. Making music is very involving and very satisfying.

    As for dreams, I've always had trouble sleeping unless there's something on such as a dvd or music, so often my dreams correspond heavily with what is on, but when I do dream normally, I have colors but not music, but my dreams 95% of the time I incredibly surreal and have very little ties to reality, the only real dream I can remember having recently was when I interviewed Betty White about her career, that was a cool dream.

  • At Tuesday, September 05, 2006 2:38:00 PM, Anonymous That One Guy said…

    ahhh, my dear... that was beautiful!!

    I recount the passage of time in my life with the map of music, and, truly, the most religious events in my life have been through music.

    I know well the feeling of perfectness under the fingers. Time stops for me at those moments, and luckily for me, they have been many.

    I remember once when I was a young recording engineer, working on the first album assignment I ever had. Recording songs can take enormous amounts of time, especially when there are orchestra parts, etc. When it came time to "mix" or put it all together in its final form, it was a cathartic experience for me. One of the songs became my favorite, and as I was mixing for final copy, it just "sang" to me... perfect... as I sent it to final digital copy, it was perfect - every thing in its place... all the work came together in that 3.5 minutes of execution.

    When the album was finally released, the song sounded the same, but it never really "sang" to me as it did that day.

    Incidentally, I do dream in color, and although there is not constant background music, there is always music here and there...


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