Friday, July 19, 2002

Tonight's Soundtrack: Fredrik Chopin's Noctures

Sitting alone on the sofa at midnight, the quiet time of my day, I listen to Autur Rubinstein play Nocturne No. 1 in G minor, enjoying my solitude. Solitude and stillness are good for the soul. Solitude is the clear glass of filtered water that cleanses the pallette before one tastes a good wine. In our lives, we are not always granted the opportunity to have a quiet moment of reflection. I treasure mine.

As part of my quiet time, I enjoy listening to classical music. There is classical music, but I doubt that there are classical movies. I just spent the last two hours watching a movie that was entertaining and unoffensive while extoling the virtues of true love ('cause the kids were watching, too). A bit of mental popcorn - filling, but no nutrition. A movie can entertain and can perhaps be enjoyed a second or third time, but no drama or acted-out moral lesson can compete (in holding my interest) with the gentle, interweaving melodies of a master composer. Although I may not always be in the mood for classical music, I never tire of any particular piece.

For me, all music has its place and time. Aretha Franklin's soulful vocal bends can push me to new speeds and efforts as I cycle along; Bare Naked Ladies have great sing-along music that reminds me of six-hour-long, chat-about nothing sessions with my high school buddies; ZZ Top, Golden Earring and Foreigner puts me back in my first car, the Purple Passion Pit, zipping around on a skipped afternoon of high school classes; the Dixie Chicks and John Denver makes me want to two-step (or at least tap my foot and say yeehaw at the appropriate time). It's like putting on familiar but seldom-worn outfits and being in a totally different place.

Today while driving my brother-in-law's rusted out Nissan pickup, I was listening to the Firebird Suite on CBC One. I've listened to that piece at least a hundred times, thanks to an early introduction to Tomita's rendition. Even through the one tinny speaker, cranked right up to compete with the growl of the unmuffled engine exhaust and other street noises, I heard new, unappreciated subtleties in Stravinsky's gentle and moving score. The more I listened, the more depth I found in the music. It was magic.

When I get the chance, I have my kids listen to classical pieces that I find especially rich with emotion or character. I have them be still, close their eyes and try to imagine what kind of feelings the composer is suggesting; what the temperature in the room was when they wrote a particular piece; what had happened to them that day to make them put that piece together; what kind of movements would be appropriate to act out if they were moving to this; what sort of story they could create using this music and who the characters would be and what they would say to each other as the music changes.

Yet for some reason, I don't consider myself a classical music nut. I'm just an occasional user.

No comments: