Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Way I Hear Music

"Love is the light in which we see each thing in its true origin, nature, and destiny. If we could look at the world in a loving way, then the world would rise up before us full of invitation, possibility and depth." - John O'Donohue, from Anam Cara

When I read this quote, I realize why I hear music differently from most people. Because I truly love music, I usually hear it in the most loving way...the same way a mother loves her child; it can do no wrong, and it is full of wonder and possibility.

This is how I hear most music...with the hope that it will bring me joy and help me transcend the everyday banal. I expect the best from it, and usually it delivers. I try to hear past the flaws of the music, the singer, the off-key notes and clumsy performance. I let it transport me somewhere else and show me the best it can be. It takes hold of my imagination and becomes something greater than what it really is. It is soul and spirit unified with flesh.

I can hear the vibrato that isn't there, and strengthen the singer's voice with my mind. I hear the off-key note that exists, and add to it the on-key note it should be, and combine the two into a lovely harmony. I convert cheesy synth sounds to violins, guitar to dulcimer, and spiff up dull arrangements with a bit of added instrumentation. It's a rare song that I hear as is, without altering it in my mind.

In this way, listening to music becomes a creative act, kind of like parenting. Musicians are my children, and I place their compositions upon my refrigerator, proud of their work. What other people might view as mere scribble, I notice the craft of a genius.