I’ve been listening to The Enid’s 1976 album “In the Region of the Summer Stars” whilst lying on my bed, and am allowing myself to drift off into something akin to contentment. I sit up and take my notepad from the side of the bed and I write in only just legible script “The brass calls out a cacophony call, and I hear dolphins and large bells as background atmosphere sound, but I see noises too. Then rhythmic bass and proper cymbal percussion begins and it all gets faster and more crazy. Imagine hundred of pixies doing a barn dance”.
In the morning I pick up my pad and wonder why I bothered writing that. Why did I rise up from near-sleep to express my feelings about a piece of music I enjoy – and in such a waffly disjointed way too? Would I also feel inspired someday to describe the scurrying of microscopic red spiders on the baking hot Summer flagstones, or the growth of algae on the front of my fish tank when it is placed in the glare of sunlight? What makes music so special, and why do I feel this strong urge to analyse it rather than simply allowing it to wash over me and take control? Perhaps because I studied music to A level standard, where detailed analysis is required.
It isn’t the first time I’ve wondered why I feel the need to communicate this madness with others – but even more interestingly, why I feel the need to make a record of it for my own needs. What’s even more interesting is how I feel it is possible to describe the music as intense, rushing, chaotic or whatever. And only I can possibly know what I mean.
I love how music has this amazing knack of making you see things in an individual way… but also in a different way. Consider a film and how the soundtrack can completely change your mood and opinion of a scene. The Psycho shower scene to Benny Hill music… I think not!
And that’s why music isn’t just the audio soundtrack to our lives: it is also the emotional soundtrack. And that’s also why, when emotions are too intense (perhaps when we’ve just experienced a bereavement or other life changing event) we seem unable to hear music properly for what it is and interpret it as pain. Instead we plunge ourselves into less challenging experiences – perhaps easy-view television that grants comfort. It is almost as if we can’t allow ourselves that little chink in our armour, for fear we will collapse inside. Perhaps.
The Enid always gift me with introspection. JS Bach grants intellectual clarity (I listen to him and Handel while working on my accounts!) and 1970s middle- of-the-road rock or progressive rock music are what I turn to when I am in need of comfort – like arriving home after a long journey. But challenge my ears to piano with accompanying strings and I can’t help but yearn for something indefinable. A type of hunger or thirst or discomfort or… how on earth can a person describe this, when it’s something you can only experience inside yourself? Of course, you can try, but it’s not easy. It’s even harder to describe colours, sounds and other experiences that can only be described with reference to something else that is equally impossible to describe.
On another point, and getting entirely away slightly from the whole thoughts and feelings thing, I settled down last night with an Agatha Christie novel. I don’t know why I’ve never read this particular book before as I sure as heck have read all her others, and have seen most of the films and TV programmes too. “The Secret Adversary” caught my eye because of this oversight but also because of a little note at the front in its latest edition (currently Book of the Month at my library) which read “To all those who lead monotonous lives, in the hope that they may experience at second hand the delights and dangers of adventure”.
Being a hardened (or is that softened?) introvert, adventure to me is more a walk in the park than a balloon ride, so I was encouraged to take this book from the library. It was first published in January 1922 and was Agatha Christie’s second novel, preceded by “The Mysterious Affair at Styles”. I wonder how I will emotionally connect with it. So far to me it feels stilted and contrived, but perhaps it is just a sign of the young writer finding her feet. It’s down to earth and, in terms of emotional description or psychological analysis, it’s pretty lacking, but that’s what the reader expects from Christie’s novels. They are about intricate plot and action, not about waffling description.
So I think that’s all I’m going to say for today. Writing about anything as nebulous as emotions and music is inevitably going to leave a lot to the imagination…