It’s a rainy day here, and that has doubtless informed my music-while-coding choices. I have a playlist on my iPod built from pretty much all the music I loved and listened to over and over again before I graduated from college. That was back when you could only listen to music that was either played on radio, or which you had purchased (or painstakingly bootlegged). This playlist is heavy on the King Singer’s, Peter, Paul and Mary, Faure’s Requiem, “The Civil War” by Ken Burns, Handel’s Water Music and “All the Best From Scotland vol. 2” which is quite possibly the high point of Celtic music ever. Or, more likely, just a trip back in memory lane for me.
I’m sometimes still amazed at just how the music can bring me back to who I was. Each piece is precious in its evocation of a prior me — the child who gazed out the window of her home at tall mountains and dreamed dreams and for whom the world was a simpler place. I’m not surer that all the lessons I have learned since are well learned, or even true. While perhaps the possibilities of magic I learned from Tolkein and Lewis have never been my lot, I’m not so sure that the lessons of CNN and NPR aren’t just as skewed towards the venal, frustrating and cruel. The kindness and exultation of humanity are not news items.
I feel lucky that I have such a consistent and kind way to reach back to who I was and what I felt. I can’t be that person again, but I can remember what it was like to be 12 and in love with magic, mystery and music.
I remember weeping from the beauty of the cello in “Watching the White Wheat”. I had the Canadian Brass version of Pachabel’s “Canon in D” on constant loop on my fidgety portable CD Player as we drove past the ancient winding rivers of Yellowstone — and possibly that was the moment I truly and finally fell in love with my trumpet. We drove across the Missouri river in the dead of night on an impossibly high bridge, my father, brother and I, listening to the Kingston Trio’s lament on the same theme. Lying in my bed with the rhythm of the rain tapping on my windowpane, I longed to assure Paul Simon that by no means did his words “Tear and bend to rhyme”. In one of the last moments of my childhood, driving through a late spring snowstorm coming out of Missoula Montana listening to Therese Shroeder-Sheker’s Geography of the Soul, which would be the theme music of my thesis-writing, and falling in love as thick snowflakes drifted past dark pines on an impossibly distant road.
There is so much beauty there, in those memories.
For someone to whom music is so important, and reaches so deeply, I often feel like I have not maintained my connection. Sure, in the last few years I’ve added in Folk Rock in the form of Steeleye Span. There’s Kate Rusby, who’s released the same album about 4 times. (Or maybe they just all sound the same.) There’s Madeleine Payreoux. I’ve made a few forays which I haven’t ended up loving, as well. It seems like one more way where I am starving my soul of the nutrition it so desperately needs, through my own neglect. But I hardly know where to start, or how.
There is one completely new form/kind of music I’ve fallen head-over-heels for this year, though. It’s so new to me I’m not even entirely sure what genre it falls into. The music is from Symphony of Science
I like the beat. And for me, listening to what I listen to, Auto tune is actually new and exciting. (I KNOW I KNOW!) But what I really, really, really like about this is the poetry and optimism. I’m pretty sure that generally this would be called techno or electronica, but is it standard for techno/electronica to be cheery, uplifting and speak towards the hopeful future of our species? And there is no genre designation for “Good lyrics/uplifting”. So given that I have downloaded/purchased all their existing albums, help me oh great internet. Who else out there is doing this? Is anyone setting poetry to this kind of beat? The good stuff, too. Is there a Donne/techno or a Spenser/electronica? Is there a fantastic lyricist I should track down? How do I expand this newfound fondness of mine? Or, as I fear, is Symphony of Science a unique exemplar of it’s kind?