Thursday, February 5, 2015

Creative Writing #21, The Concert and the Radio

Can the same sound have different sounds?

The band settles itself on the stage and the tuning begins—isolated sounds erupt into the air. The clarinet and oboe murmur some sultry tones as the trumpet blares briefly. The string instruments lazily harmonize and I fumble with my dress, pulling the black satin back over my stockingless knees. I tuck a stray hair behind my ear and flip through the program, trying to appear as sophisticated as the blasé crowd surrounding me. The music prepares itself. I prepare myself. Silence drops on the lounge and I glance up. Now, we are both ready. 

No niceties, no introductions. The music begins immediately and Bublé opens the night with Sinatra’s “Learning The Blues.” The brass—sassy and rhythmic. Somehow my heartbeat echoes its uneven staccatos. The piano—edgy and sparkling. My fingers dance on my knee, searching for the chords. The percussion—faithful and familiar. I don’t notice my left foot freely following along. Particles of sound touch everything. They are palpable, tangible. For once, melody materializes and tone actualizes. Sound takes on shape and density. It can be felt and heard. Each pitch hits me differently; each note takes on a distinct color. Puffs of it roll through the room, waves of it tumble across chairs, and streams of it rush over our limbs. The dandelion blare of the trumpet, the purple bop of the drum, the blush throb of the violin and the cobalt ding of the piano. 


The old truck rumbles along the gravel and I fiddle the rusty knobs on the radio, searching for something other than the newsThere, finally—the jazz station. Grandpa refuses to fix the car. It’s too much of a “classic.” Midnight is fast approaching, but he needs a screwdriver from the Walmart ten miles down the road and “no time is better than now.” The radio static fades into “Learning The Blues.” My thumbs tap the steering-wheel rhythmically and I stare blankly at the blackness in front of me. A deer. I brake rapidly and my messy bun falls out and over my face. The trumpet squeals at this point and I sigh, fixing my hair as Bublé sings about “the nights when you don't sleep. . .” Gazing at the boxy mechanism emanating jazz music, I realize that the wavelengths have no effect. They are distant. They are the same. No colors, no textures. They are grey and lifeless--the sound coming out in even chunks rather than boisterous surges. Sameness in each consecutive melody, tone, note. It pleases the ear, but it does not captivate the soul. The song on the radio is only an echo of something past—a song already sung. It is the ghost of music and the afterlife of the musician. Bublé tells me “those blues” will haunt my memory. I smile knowingly and switch the radio off, content to listen to the soprano choir of cicadas, the tenor voice of the cool summer wind, and the percussion of the uneven gravel beneath me. 

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