01 February 2010

Never Say Never

You know, some songs just capture that one feeling that is difficult, if not downright impossible, to capture in words or expressions. There are a whole host of these kinds of songs that make up the soundtrack of my life, as I'm sure most other people have, and if anyone knows me, they know that Collective Soul is the majority chunk of that soundtrack.

However, in my adult life, in the true wake of adult pains, pangs, triumphs, and tribulations, there have been few to ever capture the raw, visceral emotions that make up the human experience. The reasons we grow, we learn, smile, or close up, build walls, barriers. It can truly be said that the entire gift of music is that it can tell the story in a way that nothing else can, no matter what side of the scale.

But it isn't just a really emotional hook with empowering chord progressions in a rock song that does it. Many a number of classical pieces and composers have instilled the same raw, visceral, guttural instinct with something as simple as a passing tone in a matching phrase that appeases the cerebellum. Or as multiple layers (polyphony) of perfectly blended sections rise in a crescendo and resolve the aphrodisiac-like dissonance into a brilliantly pleasureful calm. Resolving the tonic from minor to major. The suspense of raised 5th with the sub dominant chord (a characteristically Spanish trait.) Phrases that create mystery and play with dynamic. It all just works together so well in both classical and in rock.

This is why I went into music. Less to teach it--or the technical side of it--than to pass on the vital, integral energy saturated in the soul that only music can bring out. I saw a girl on TV once who masterfully and intensely manipulate the black and white keys of a grand piano as she performed some classical piece (the name of which I wish I knew) on stage. Her stunning evening gown registered nothing in her mind as her wrists and arms were a concentrated flurry of well-executed timing, and she physically moved on the bench as though she were not encumbered by it. I was filled with awe. I remember looking up at my mom, pointing to the Miss America pageant we were watching, and specifically declared that I would "play piano like that some day."

A great many days have come and gone since then, but I recognize that as the moment I knew music was going to be my life. My dad bought my mom an upright piano for their anniversary some time in or around then and I bugged them about lessons almost immediately; and then fought them on having to practice until the plug was almost pulled. If something didn't come easy to me, I didn't want to work on it (a personality trait I would learn to struggle with for the rest of my life.) I changed piano teachers and took lessons for about another two years. All told, I got about three years of lessons in before the last teacher had to quit taking students to run her insurance business. Never took lessons after that, save for the few I'd get at music camp in the summers, never received any formal performing instruction, and along with my limited knowledge of the music world, moved into post-secondary education feeling under qualified and like a small fish in a big pond.

The point is that despite my dismay and reasons for throwing in the towel, by the time I dropped out of school, I got my level 6 proficiency, which would have gotten me into the Upper Division--and qualification to teach instrumental or vocal music--had I stayed, and it did instill, amongst the greater disappointments, a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Since then, my life has changed in epic ways, but I've always had music to lift me up, help me escape, or deal with life. And I will always have those songs, those composers, those pieces to fall back on and be waiting for the next hook.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please post your comment