Tuesday, 8 June 2010
Music! Maestro, please.............
Hullo ma wee blog,
It's part of its strange and fantastic power that you can listen to a piece of music or look at a painting or sculpture and find yourself both moved emotionally and your thoughts veering off in a completely different direction from whatever you happened to be doing or thinking at the time. It happens to me a lot, usually with music as that's the art form I have contact with most. I can be taken to far away places or different times and find myself wondering what moved the composer to create those sounds, what experience or emotion, what need, what vision dictated such a response. I find it incredible that someones experience translated into music can communicate to me down the years, even down the ages and elicit something that is vivid, unique and deeply personal in return. A direct connection between composer and listener, sometimes separated by centuries.
Sometimes, of course, we know what the stimulus was - a visit to a place or some recorded upheaval in the composers personal life. Often we just don't, but the music connects with us just the same regardless. I was driving to Dunbar earlier to see a friend when a piece of music, a favourite classical piece, came on the radio. I've known Albinoni's Adagio in G minor since I was at school in my very early teens. The first time I heard it I was mesmerised by its drama and solemnity, by the slow yet relentlessly pacing beat that drives it constantly on, broken only in a couple of interludes by a solo instrument lifting away and above just for a moment before returning inexorably to the main theme once again. I've often wondered what the trigger for that piece was.
I thought it was beautifully and poetically used in the Peter Weir film 'Gallipoli', a movie which effectively brought Mel Gibson to the fore. I can look back and see too that it in some way prompted my love for similar pieces, left me prepared to listen to music that before meant nothing to my childish likes and helped shape the musical taste, certainly for classical and instrumental music, that I have today. It came also to evoke memories of my Grandfather, once I had established the connection with Gallipoli through the film score, as he had served there in the Royal Scots Fusiliers in 1915 and 1916.
Music is a fascinating means of association. All of us have music that reminds us of the finding or loss of lovers, of wedding days and other happy or sad occasions, some critical, but some equally and bewilderingly unimportant points in our lives that are forever marked by one song or piece of music that when heard, always takes us back to that specific point in life and allows us to reflect or to remember those poignant moments. These associations become deeper and broader as reflection and life experience add layer after layer on top of original memories. These audio mementos are very precious to me as a natural hoarder of the physical version - the domino set my grandfather carried in WWI, grannies mantle clock that literally chimes with my childhood, great grannies wedding china and the like. Stuff which fills cupboards and drawers and comes to light infrequently. Things to be held in trust until the time is right to pass them on to another generation. At least that's what I sometimes tell myself, but whether the next generation will want them is debatable.
Musical memories, triggers, are all round me at home through our music collection. Some have been posted across the blog at various times, like audio stakes in the ground that mirror sentiment or feeling linked to particular blog posts for instance, or just a reassurance for me where maybe I've felt that a post needed something, even not directly related. I suppose too it's reflected in my sign off where I'll usually let you know what I'm listening to at the time. Each week there will be a trigger that send me thinking about something or other and as the years pass and experiences build up there are of course more and more triggers around to excite, reassure, reaffirm memories and feelings anew.
Hearing this piece again made me think of my Grandfather, especially so as my brother and I had recently walked some of his footsteps in Belgium, in Paschendaele and Ypres. Once again the imagery associated with the music came to me as images of war. No longer under a blazing sun in Turkey but in the mud and filth of the western front, in that seemingly endless flat ground perfectly made for mans worst creation.
Music is magic, of that there's no doubt. It's incredible how man can be so creative and so destructive and how both can be represented by the same thing.
see you later.
Listening to Albanoni, 'Adagio in G minor'
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