Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Music and Words

When did I stop reading things properly? I pick up one or two words and make a connection that isn’t there.

Last night I was all geared up for writing a song. Words and Music – I just presumed that the words written would fit a melody. I presumed someone would be there with a guitar or a keyboard or some other musical producing object. There would be a short talk, perhaps, outlining five key essentials to a good song. There would be a simply melody, perhaps, and ten or fifteen minutes working on possible lyrics.

This is where the mind goes when one doesn’t read the information properly!

In a book about walking I came across the term “desire paths” or "desire lines”. We’ve all been there. Rather than follow the flagstone path around a corner, we just cut across the grass. Backwards, forwards, everyone does it and before you know it there is a well-established path. When it comes to the arts – the paintings, the books, the poetry, the music and other creative acts – there’s a lot of backwards and forwards between them – desire paths. A piece of artwork inspires a poem. A poem inspires a piece of music. Last night was about following the path from music to poetry.

It doesn’t appear to be a very well-established path, but it was one that we found ourselves upon last night. Some of the poems we read emulated the structure of music trying the capture the movement of notes, the breaks, the rests and the melody of carefully chosen words. A prose piece tapped into the memory associated with a piece of music.

Once upon a time I went to a creative writing workshop where a lady improvised on a piano and we writers were encouraged to produce something provoked by the music. I don’t know that I am wired that way. The desire path between music and poetry, for me, is blocked by a bramble bush or something. I just can’t do it. I can’t write to order. I need a few days to mull things over, to marinate a little bit.

I don’t really have that much experience of classical music. I seem to remember some of our music lessons at school focussing on music appreciation – listening to the works of great composers. This was in the days before everyone had a keyboard and a set of headphones. I don’t remember the music stirring me to tears, or stirring me at all. I can’t think of a piece of classical music that I would be able to claim as a favourite. Debussy's Clair de Lune perhaps. Music for me was all about Donny Osmond. 

Last night we listened to the finale of Mahler’s 10th Symphony. It brought to mind a scene from the film “Pride and Prejudice” with Kiera Knightly, the just before dawn scene where she is tramping around in a coat over her nightdress, and there coming over the horizon is Mr Darcy. They kiss as the sun climbs over the horizon. I wasn’t the only one thinking that way, apparently. Oh yes, there’s a lot of films out there with a musical score that builds up to a crescendo as star-crossed lovers declare their undying love.

A friend of mine was very clear about what the music evoked in her - a sense of leaving on the one part and returning on the other.  Perhaps we have been away from a place with so many memories, that when we return, as the music reaches its crescendo, the joy, rather than any sorrow crowds in.

I have, thankfully, lost the piece of paper I wrote on.  A line or two that I liked, but far too much that I didn’t like, I’m not even going to try to reconstruct the poem.

Here’s one I wrote later, after having listened again to Mahler.

it begins
with nothing
no form, no filling
empty and
nothing moves
nothing stirs
only silence and waiting

something hovers
anticipation, expectation

a voice
“Let there be light”

and then
nothing becomes
something and
takes up its position
in obedience to
the Creator’s

…and there was radiant light

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