All Kinds of Music

Drawing/painting illo: Three ComposersIn my head, there is music. Mostly, it’s a rambling, meandering thing without much form or direction, just a little ditty that my subconscious seems to hum to itself along the journey of the day. Once in a while, it’s an earworm, some tune or phrase caught in the soundtrack of my brain and put on long-term Repeat because I heard it or remembered it recently and didn’t have another thing to replace it with soon enough. Often, when I’m drifting off to sleep or marking time while I wait for something to happen, there’s a sort of internal theme song of mine, a mere snippet of a melody that might be a simple part of a Bach invention or might just as well be something of my own invention inspired by Bach or some similar composer, a line that becomes more or less complicated, turns from something slightly Baroque to a more Classical seeming style for a bit and then becomes a very plain little row-your-boat kind of canon before returning to its silent corner to wait for my next moment of internal quiet. On rare occasions, there might be words attached or an obvious external source of whatever song seems to have sneaked and snaked its way into my frontal lobe for a lope or two around my one-track mind.

Yet I have not the gift of composition. When I think about it in a more determined and purposeful way, I have all sorts of ideas about how I would probably set a particular poem or story text of mine if I did have compositional skills, how I might voice the piece or what instrumentation I think would be just right for the words and ideas therein. But it would be helpful, if I really intended to do any such a thing, if I had the slightest notion whatsoever of music theory or how to read a score (let alone write one), of what certain instruments can and cannot do, and whether the human voice is actually capable of making the sounds that might be required of such a project.

I am ever so glad that there are composers in the world capable of carrying a musical idea to magnificent, magical fruition. I sincerely doubt that any of them would set any text, mine or another’s, in just the way that my moseying mind seems to believe it would—for good or ill—and that is the way the universe operates. Each of us has skill sets and desires and training and passions that make us better, or worse, fitted for the tasks and arts that we imagine to be useful or pleasurable, and each has limitations even on our own abilities to recognize where we will excel and when we might fall short. What a wonderful thing it is that, though I’m not a composer myself, there are excellent composers who can and will set my words to their own music, because after all, choral music is one of the most clearly collaborative of activities anyway.

What a wonderful thing it is that, though I will most likely never master bringing what rings inside my skull out of it in an intelligible way, let alone anything like the one I imagine in its internal incubator, somebody out there is busy penning loveliness and longing, drama and dreams, that will carry their music forth into the hearts, minds, and ears of a waiting world’s humming silence.

2 thoughts on “All Kinds of Music

  1. My son is a composer, the rest of my immediate family, musicians. I am not musical, though I too wish I could do what they do. I guess both of us must make peace with making what we make and agree to appreciate the rest:)

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