10 February 2012

Music Paints the World with Hope

"Music is the regular man’s magic wand, the fairy dust of commoners, the heart surgeon for the broken masses. One minute you can be gray and lost, covered up in a thin film of your own questions and worries and self-focused mess. And then you turn on the music and all the world springs to life, anxieties crumble small to the ground, worry hangs his head in the presence of whimsy. (Those two can never hang out together.) When I’m writing and find myself in a dark, colorless corner of non-ideas, the right music can paint the world with hope." ~ Emily Freeman

One of my new favorite blogs to follow is Chatting At The Sky with author Emily Freeman. I am not exactly sure how I landed at Emily's blog, but I am glad that I did. It always feels like a respite in my day when I take the time to read her thoughtful posts. Emily is a wife, mother and writer who recently published her first book Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life. I don't have a copy of this book, but the blurb about it sounds like I should. I am putting it on my wish list.

Miss Emily wrote her most recent post on February 9, 2012 titled "Using Music to Inspire Your Writing." Seeing as I have music on the brain this month, I was intrigued. The quote above is the opening paragraph of her post. It is well worth a read.

Miss Emily says that when she is working on some new writing she needs to listen to orange-yellow music. The idea that music could be expressed in colors really moved me! She goes on to list some tracks of music that evoke that bright vibrant pop of color and never fail to get her brain dancing in the right direction. One that she mentions is the soundtrack to Pride & Prejudice. Now I have seen the movie, but I can't say that I recall the music that runs so seamlessly through the scenes. Miss Emily says, "Nearly every song on this album is yellow-orange, with the occasional deep green-blue undertone." Take a listen to this selection from the soundtrack and see if you agree. I know that I am going to have to get a copy of this soundtrack to play while I work, especially since yellows are so hard for me to coax out of my studio.

Some music is rich with jeweled undertones. This is music that feels sumptuous and luxurious, rich and dreamy.  Lush music like Norah Jones Come Away With Me or Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake can transport you so completely to another time and place. I love that about music. I recently had the pleasure of treating my daughter, Tiny Dancer, her favorite friend and favorite aunt to the Russian Ballet's performance of Swan Lake at the Fox Valley Performing Arts Center. The music was a glorious accompaniment to the stength and beauty of the dancers. I totally felt that the Prima Ballerina was transformed into a swan as the tendons in her arms rippled as she extended her arms and seemed to float on the air. It was incredibly moving.

The movie Black Swan was haunting and so masterful. The score is by Clint Maunsell based on Tchaikovsky's iconic Swan Lake. This last song in the soundtrack is called "A Swan Song (for Nina)" and is so rich and flowing. (If you listen, the first 57 seconds are so quiet you may think it is not working. Keep listening.)

I can feel the quiet desperation in this song. There is an oppressive sadness that hints to grey and black but with a release of white for me in this music. It is somber and haunting and completely evokes the madness of the character of Nina.

Last week, in phase two of the dance performances, Tiny Dancer and I went to see the Lily cai Chinese Dance Theater company perform. What a treat that was! Not only was it a great experience of another culture, but we were immersed in sounds that I had not heard before as well as movements that were so expressive it was as if they were painting the air with their bodies. In one of the four dances they held lit candles while performing an intensely lyrical choreography to a Mahler symphony. The only light on stage were these lit candles that flickered and seemed to respond to their every move without ever going out. The final number was a feast for the eyes. They were dressed in simple black leotards and used long silk ribbons to literally paint the stage with their presence. It was a tribute to Jackson Pollock's paintings melded with Chinese calligraphy. Beautiful! This YouTube video I found is a bit rough, but I thought you might like to see it.

So music can evoke feelings and memories, but also color and light and shape and movement. The beat is like the pattern and the foundation. It can be dramatic and driving and colored in shades of crimson and plum, or it can be soft and ethereal and colored in tones of azalea and lavender.

What color is the music you are listening to today?


Dawn Doucette said...

It's amazing when I'm in the car and certain songs come on the radio... I can be instantly moved to tears (I know, I'm a sap) or I get all giddy remembering where or what I was doing when that song was on the radio.

Music is a chapter in the story of us! Love it!

SummersStudio said...

Music is hugely important to me for it mood altering capacity. It could almost be a drug, one that is good for you and probably alright to be addicted too. It is intriguing to think of the colors. I will have to look for them while I am listening.

Brandi Hussey said...

I love the Keira Knightley version of Pride & Prejudice - the soundtrack/score is absolutely beautiful.

When I listen to music, most of it would translate into bright, saturated colors because I'm a child of the 90s and I love pop music. But I truly love all music, so I have a full spectrum on my iPod for whatever mood I'm in.

Today's music is a soft creamy white.

Lesley said...

I love the concept of music as colour...when I really listen to a piece of music I find myself painting pictures in my imagination. I would love to be able to capture those images and compare them with other peoples interpretations. Music has such a powerful influence over us.

Rebecca said...

Music and colour definitely go hand in hand; for me, definitely linked to the mood of the piece and how it makes me feel. However, for some people it is much more specific - there is a conditions called synesthesia, "a condition wherein one experiences sensation in one sense in response to stimulus in another". C major was a specific colour, E flat major, etc. And of course the colours that the sounds and keys provoke is different for each individual. Composers such as Rimsky-Korsakov and Rachmaninoff had it. We learned about it at school and I have always found it fascination as a concept, and kind of wished I had it! It would be such a beautiful way to listen to music.

AntiquityTravelers said...

I can not count how many times I've seen this movie (Pride and Prejudice) and this particular version is my favorite. The music is beyond beautiful ... it transcends to another place. Simply love it!


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