Thursday, July 22, 2010

MMMMUSIC

PHOTO BY MARTY KITTRELL


Think of it: never man-made sound, and then, MOZART!!

I think that those of us whose Great Movies Of All Time list includes Out of Africa will recognize this line---Denys says it to Karen when they’ve placed a gramophone out in the bushes to see what effect music will have on the baboon troop.

The animals had listened, fascinated, to the sounds emanating from that even-more-fascinating machine, before they succumbed to the interesting whirl of the turntable and reached out, their curiosity overtaking their fascination, their grabbing fingers scritching the record and the music into a shriek of dismay.

I thought of this scene this morning, as I sat for a moment in my chair with my coffee, idly clicking morning channels, and finding a sweet little romantic movie with two young folks of the 1850’s courting beneath Daddy’s disapproving eye and Aunt’s simpering glee. The four of them gathered in the parlor after dinner, and the young duet at the piano began a song; immediately two white-capped heads appeared in the door, as the two maids clearing the table followed the sound of the notes to their source. The two young women stood, entranced, as the two sweethearts played and sang---he in perfect tune and his lady in a quavery, uncertain voice, and though all the action and sound and focus were on the musical pair in the foreground, I thought about how much those hard-working women-of-the-downstairs must have loved listening to that song.

They probably came into service in their early teens, with never a note of music save perhaps a fair-time fiddle or some harvest hoedown of the time; they would not have been exposed to anything save the wheezy organ of a village church, the sound of the organ as variously vigorous or listless as the small boy assigned pumping-duty on Sundays.

And the hunger for that foreign sound, those notes of piano or fiddle or harp---those have been a part of our humanity since first stick-hit-rock, I’d imagine. First rhythm, then hum, then strum---grass serving for tongue-hum, and reed for tootle and whistle and different pitch of hum.

I asked a fabulous lady bass-player once how she ever chose to play that particular instrument, and she said that it just came to her fingers, and she’d never have ever thought to pick up anything and just blow into it. Thinking of how people might choose, it’s also a miracle that certain ones DID have access, and an incomprehensible loss that so many could-have-been virtuosi did not come to be, for sheer lack of exposure to the particular instrument of their genius.

And the lost music, I think, is the saddest melody of all, but the Found---AHHHH, the swell of the found, and the melody of the IS---those are enough beautiful to last us our days.

4 comments:

Southern Lady said...

Beautiful post, Rachel. It reminded me of a handwritten line in the back of an old hymnal my mother gave me a long time ago. It read: "Some people die with their music still within" ... and that is, indeed, sad.

Keetha said...

What a lovely post. I confess I hadn't thought of this in exactly these words:

"it’s also a miracle that certain ones DID have access, and an incomprehensible loss that so many could-have-been virtuosi did not come to be, for sheer lack of exposure to the particular instrument of their genius.

And the lost music, I think, is the saddest melody of all, but the Found---AHHHH, the swell of the found, and the melody of the IS---those are enough beautiful to last us our days."

You sum it up just right.

My mother is an accomplished pianist. I play a little, not as much as maybe I should. I don't know that I've ever asked her how she came to play. I should do that!

Kim Shook said...

I always wonder what is lost when a civilization pushes down certain chosen groups. What medical advances, beautiful paintings, stirring books. Now I'll think of 'lost music'. Beautiful post, my friend.

Kat said...

Great thought provoking post!

Hugs,
Kat