Tag Archives: music

Aldous Huxley Captures the Power of Music

Why is there music in every culture of the world?

Why can some pieces of music (for me it’s classical music) bring you to a standstill? Pierce your heart? Make you understand the relentlessness of loss, of death like the Adagio For Strings in G Minor by Tomaso Albinoni? How can others make you smile, bring you peace or joy like Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or Bedrich Smetanau’s Moldau?

These were the last questions that my brother Bob sought to answer before his untimely death. He and I shared books like Oliver Sachs Musicophilia and Daniel Levitin’s The World in Six Songs. We shared thoughts and ideas but we never came close to understanding the universality of music, the power.

Once again, the clever, beautiful and ingenious writer, Maria Popova, the woman behind the stunning website, Brain Pickings, has produced a lyric piece on Aldous Huxley (a man I admired but Bob wasn’t too keen on) that opens the door on why music touches souls, transcends words, shapes lives and shapes cultures.

Huxley wrote about music long before he authored Brave New World or journeyed into the world of hallucinogenic drugs and the publication of his slim but influential book entitled Doors of Perception.

Huxley actually explains why I never liked Wagner! Popova shares this quote of Huxley’s: “Silence is an integral part of all good music. Compared with Beethoven’s or Mozart’s, the ceaseless torrent of Wagner’s music is very poor in silence. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why it seems so much less significant than theirs. It “says” less because it is always speaking.”

And he explains why I’ve always loved the lonesome call of a train as it passes through the back country on its way to I don’t know where…but you’ll have to read about that in Popova’s newsletter.

She outdoes herself on this essay and that, my friends, is saying something. Her newsletter is a weekly labor of love; this one is no exception. Popova offers her research, her writing, herself for free…but accepts donations. I cannot imagine a better person to become a patron for than this brilliant teller of stories.

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Filed under Gifts, Inspiring People, Mysteries, Uncategorized, World Changing Ideas

Where Is Your Music?

I spent years wondering why it was possible for Ludwig Von Beethoven and Bederic Smetanau to write some of the most moving music in the world when they were both deaf – no sound penetrating their worlds.

I think I figured it out.

Beethoven could hear nothing when he wrote his magnificent choral symphony, the 9th and final symphony of his life.  Listen to The 4th movement of the Choral Symphony.  Smetanau wrote his incredible, lyric ode to his home land from which he was exiled Ma Vlast, in complete silence.   Only 11 minutes long, the Moldau shows Smetanau\’s love for his homeland.

How could they create such beautiful sound without being able to hear?

Perhaps that is the very reason they could create music that moves men and women to tears even today, hundreds of years after they composed it.

Unlike the vast majority of people living in this world, these men were not distracted by the everyday sounds of their lives.  No incessant chattering, no hoof beats in the streets below, no vendors hawking wares.  All they could hear was their inner music, the rhythm, beat, melody and lyrics that coursed through their very blood and poured onto page after page of parchment as notes.

I believe every person has music inside them – their own special sound.  Sometimes, if you look quickly enough, you can see it flash in their eyes.  Or you’ll hear fingertips drumming on a table, maybe see someone sketching the echo of their own soul on a notepad, in yet another meeting.  So, where does our music go?  Why does it only slip out when we aren’t watching or we think no one else is?

We drown it out with a torrent of sound.  Television always on.  Radio playing in the background.  iPod plugged in and ripping through song after song.  Texting.  Chatting.  Reading magazines, the newspaper, billboards, even labels.  Every day, all day, we are all assaulted by noise.

Who could possibly hear the thread of their inner symphony?

Ten years ago, this month, I embarked on an experiment to try to reconnect with myself, find my creativity, begin to hear my music, my voice again.  I took my journey with Julia Cameron – well-known author of The Artist’s Way.  A twelve week, self-study course, The Artist’s Way makes it possible for anyone reading it and doing the exercises to find their way home to themselves.

One of the toughest assignments for me – a bona fide noise junkie – was the week of when I was not allowed to read books, newspapers, magazines, even boxes or bottles.  I wasn’t supposed to watch television or DVDs, go online or listen to the radio or my iPod.  At the beginning of the week, I was terrified by this idea.  At the end of the week, I was astonished by what I learned.

I learned that I loved silence; I craved it.  And the lesson stuck with me.  I don’t play the radio in the car anymore.  There is no television on during the day, no iPod unless I am meditating and need to listen to Jeff Strong’s One Tribe to help me reach center.  I don’t subscribe to the newspaper anymore.  I cut magazine subscriptions down from ten to two – Countryside and Oprah.

I write now.  I draw like I used to as a young girl.  I grow fruit and vegetables and flowers.  I create, sew and wear beautiful clothes.  And everyday, I actually take the time to tune into the small sounds of the quiet and gentle world living all around me – crickets, birds, the wind in the pines – my own personal symphony of life.

Have you found your music yet?

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Filed under Home Ec on Acid, Life & Death