For the longest time music has had the profoundest effect on me. Though quasi orgasmic in its effect some respects, I would more liken the effect of music on me to be more like a trip. It was only after I actually began to use drugs as an adult that I very quickly realized that I had been high quite a lot before, and it was always for the same reason: music. Music really was the trip. Now, when I say music, I mean all of it: dance music from wherever and everywhere, trip hop – which is fantastic and poignant, classical which is eternal, like a great fortress in the sky, jazz, opera, world music, new age, gothic, church music, chanting. It was mesmerising – the good stuff, I mean. But what might be loosely called Avant Garde and progressive rock had and has a really big effect on me. This modus vivendi has its problems. When you trip (hear great sounds in this case), for want of a better word, one tends to lose spatial and temporal orientation. In other words you don’t know where the hell you are. This happened to me more than once. In fact I had to stop travelling while listening to music – either I got lost and/or I wandered into traffic and nearly cause an accident, or in the case of travelling on a bike – I had a few nasty spills off the old velocipede. Embarrassing. So I learned quickly that to stay focused in day to day life I needed to stay away from music.
Even more embarrassing at times, is the overwhelming effect that music has on me – bursting into tears at the sound of a note or a particularly poignant combination of lyrics or melody or drumbeat or combinations of the foregoing; becoming distracted to the point of not hearing conversation, getting lost in my own thoughts and appearing rude to people trying to talk to me. At other times I become obsessed with sounds. I replay the same song over and over, feeling every note and lyric or drumbeat. Sometimes it drives my family crazy. They beg me to stop or they become so annoyed they walk in and ask for the music to be changed.
It was the music in poetry and in novels, in words themselves that drew me to writing. As I wrote, or tried to write, I quickly discovered something that was blindingly obvious: Both music and words aren’t really that separate. What are words but a combination of sounds. The DNA of words are music and music is a language. So I suppose what I am searching for is the inner workings of the music that makes up things. Music of the spheres. The soundtrack of all our lives. In the beginning was the word. And so it goes.
Music isn’t just mental thing, for me anyway. Its a pretty physical experience, a whole body thing. I like earphones for the fantastic pitch perfect sound they make, but I love the feel of music too. When I work I have a big speaker pushed up against my workstation and desk. I play a lot of sounds from it.
Sometimes its from the music itself that words seem to appear, like fish leaping out of water. It was as thought the notes, melodies, whatever, were a matrix through which the world appears. its quite funny when I think about it, despite the centrality of music in my life I cannot play a note. Not even one. I never learned though I have spent all this time listening.