Friday, June 4, 2010

Alla Musica!

Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.
~Sergei Rachmaninov

Last night something I've long suspected was confirmed - my theory that there is no singularly musical part of the mind. Music taps into many areas of our minds, and it's the only thing we have that consistently does that. As one who not only appreciates music, but plays musical instruments, I wholly concur. For me, playing uses the same brain power as doing mathematical equations or solving puzzles, while at the same time appealing to emotions and creating visions. One part of my brain is aware of the process of playing, another part is moved by the melody or tone, and yet another part is recalling, in pictures, a time when the tune was the soundtrack to an event in my life, or maybe it's painting an internal picture of what the music allows me to "see."

I found myself nodding affirmatively through most of the show, Nova: Musical Minds (active link to the entire show), and all that Oliver Sacks had to say. (You might recognize Sacks' name as the man who wrote Awakenings, which became the movie starring Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro.) I also found myself wishing for a longer show. It stirred me and left me with so many questions. Additionally, I realized what a beautiful gift I've been given. It wasn't really an epiphany, but a greater awareness of what I already knew.

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent.
~Victor Hugo

I grew up playing mostly classical music. Like most things I learned, I didn't have to work hard at it. Learning always came naturally to me, and studying wasn't usually necessary. Sure, I'd practice, but I didn't spend hours at it. Had I done so, who knows how much greater my skills would be. (Throughout my school years, teachers would sigh and tell my Mother, "If only she'd really apply herself...") Music simply made sense to me, the patterns fit together. If you play this note here, then you need to counter balance with these notes there. Still, somehow, I was never completely satisfied until I started writing my own music.

I don't know that the music I write is any good or not, and that's not what's important to me about writing it. Playing my own music is the only time that playing feels 100% natural to me. It completes whatever that musical thing is in my head. It allows me to explore rather than merely trying to duplicate what someone else has already done. I remember writing my first song almost 30 years ago. I started randomly plunking the piano keys in an attempt to focus on a piece I was learning. Fifteen minutes into messing around, I realized what I was doing sounded like something. I remember thinking, "... But you don't write music!" Turns out I was wrong.

I have many friends who don't consider themselves musically inclined. However, without exception, they all love music. I've watched as they get lost while listening to a melody, or even in talking about an old tune that triggers memory and elicits emotional response. Music touches us in a way that nothing else on earth does. It appeals to our senses in a way that nothing else on earth does. It connects us in a way that nothing else on earth does - you can take two people with wildly different beliefs, lifestyles, and social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds, and they'll still be able to smile and bob their heads to the same piece of music.

In my life, music is my heartbeat. It is the internal conductor that runs my train.

To stop the flow of music would be like the stopping of time itself, incredible and inconceivable.
~Aaron Copeland


  1. Great post. Like this version of Simple Gifts too...soothing.
    Have you been drawing the art recently? I'm liking the raw, in your face-ness of it!

  2. Thanks, Dana. This post and the last one are both my drawing (such as it is). I first blobbed ink and water all over a page, then stared at it to see who or what was staring back, and drew around it. Fun times.

  3. i love doing that, Barb. And i'm loving these little inky/watercolors! Keep it up!

  4. Another fantastic "creature" !!! I love them. Let them keep surfacing whenever they want. They speak to me. Now I hav another language to learn. Hugs

  5. Thanks guys! Somehow, Unhappy Frog Man made me think of John... the humor in it, I guess. I'll definitely keep it up! It's good therapy.

    Iggy, I'd be happy to let you adopt one!


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