08 November 2012

musings: music and introspection

I enjoy writing, but I frequently find myself not really knowing what to write here. And here I have this blog as a writing outlet.

There are plenty of strands I could pick up and follow, see where they go. One possibility today is music. I know, everyone writes about music. My musician brother could tell you all sorts of fascinating things about the topic, but I really only know the basics--I can read bass and treble clef, and I can play piano, violin, and mandolin with varying degrees of proficiency, never tipping over into truly good. I can sing, but when I'm out of practice, my alto range isn't exactly pleasant to listen to, and I tend to "sit on the bottom of the note," which is a creative way of saying I'm more likely to sing flat than sharp. In a musical family, I'm one of the dunces.

This used to bother me, but eventually I realized that my drive lies elsewhere. I'd rather spend eight hours a day working on language analysis than practicing the piano. Granted, a bit more practice on my mandolin would be a good idea. We even have a guitar I could try learning. Because really, I do love music. When phrase has just the right resonance (and no, I don't know how to describe it in musical terms), it's amazing. There's nothing like it.

I've been listening to music more frequently than usual (remembering a thought I had last year--music soothes the savage Anna). Sometimes I can't listen to music because it's too much stimulation. Reading and/or writing while I'm listening to music can be too many things at once and I end up switching the music off and the lack of sound results in a visceral sense of relief, the same feeling I have when the dishwasher finishes its cycle.

I grew up in a household of noise: A busy street, a beagle who bayed whenever someone walked by, three younger brothers, a piano and a drum set in the living room. Noise was normal. I got quite good at tuning it out while reading, to the point that if I'm absorbed in something today, it takes a shout or even a touch on the shoulder to bring me out of it.

As an adult, my tendencies towards silence reflect the quiet girl who occasionally holed up in her closet with a lamp and book. I can spend an entire day without really talking to anyone, without listening to music, without making much noise other than the clack of my fingers on the keyboard. Right now, all I can really hear is the traffic outside, the humming of the fridge, and the keyboard. Oh, and my own breath. This I do enjoy, and appreciate.

However, one can spend too much time with one's own thoughts. Introspection, though important, has the potential to be dangerous, especially for someone like me, with depressive tendencies. Some music intensifies the darkness, while other types lift it. Guess which one I prefer?

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