Monday, October 25, 2010

My adoration of music

I always find it amazing how much music moves me. I know that may sound corny but I'm writing this sat on a flight to Southampton listening to my iPod and in the space of 3 songs I've been back to my teens, then to my uni days and then to my mid twenties. It only takes a few notes of a song to transport me back to a particular time in my life, or a particular place.

Music can massively affect my mood and can turn me from feeling somewhat down trodden to smiling and remembering the fun times in my life. Of course, it also has the opposite effect and can make me feel quite melancholy in some respects.

Seven Nation army has just kicked in my iPod..... I'm 21 again, skipping down my university hall corridor singing 'I'm going to Wichita'! I thought at the time that it was a fab line, and I still do. It's something about the way he pronounces the word 'Wichita' I think. One of my best friends has this memory of me too and it never fails to raise a smile from us.

An ex of mine used to tease me about the fact that I'd have a story or association with almost every song, but I do. My family is very musical...

Alice Cooper's Poison is on now. I'm about 7 years old, sitting on my grandparents bed listening to my older sisters Million Dollar Babies album on vinyl. Martika Toy Soldiers has the same association!

But back to my families musicality. My father has sung in choirs since I can remember and I used to go along as a child. To this end there are a lot of traditional songs that invoke very strong memories of my childhood, On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at being one!

I have two older sisters and all three of us girls were made to learn an instrument at school. Mine started with the recorder, much to my unhappiness. I'd hidden the letter from the school from my dad as I didn't want to learn it, but they sent a reminder and I didn't have the common sense to hide this too....I was only 6 or 7 after all! I remember him sitting me down in the garden of my grandparents house and telling me how he believed that learning an instrument enhanced a persons musical awareness. I remember thinking that I really didn't care a jot at the time, but 22 years later, the conversation has stayed with me, and he was spot on. I progressed from the recorder to the trumpet, and although I enjoyed it initially I soon tired of it, I was a teenager by then and well, frankly, I had better things to do with my time! I changed schools at 14 and took up the trumpet in the new school, partly because my grandad had bought me a trumpet for my birthday. It's a truly beautiful instrument, with very ornate and stunning decoration on the bell. But, and I'm slightly sorry to say this, my heart just wasn't in it and I soon put the trumpet down, never to pick it up again. It's still at my dads, in its lovely leather case, gathering dust in the loft. I need to sell it to a good home really, to someone who'd give it the care and attention I never did.

But even though I was never really that interested in taking the instruments I learnt further, I can still read sheet music and have, what I think, is a good ear for music. I can pick up pitch and tone, and i can hold a tune relatively well. But beyond this, when I listen to music, I pick up on a myriad of things in the song or piece I'm listening to. I can't just listen to the lyrics, a song is so much more than that for me.

As kids we used to go to Scotland a lot on holiday, and we used to listen to Jeff Wayne's War of The Worlds. When I was a teen I bought the cd knowing I knew it from my childhood, and the first time I listened to it when I was that bit older, well, it blew me away. For those of you that don't know it, I recommend you source a copy, set aside a few hours and listen to it, end to end. I guarantee you'll know some music from it, and you may well know the story, it is a classic after all. But the musical itself is amazing. It's so unbelievably evocative and descriptive, it's a work of pure genius in my opinion. It sends shivers down my spine whenever I hear it, and I must have listened to it a thousand times throughout my life. I'll never tire of it and I'll pass it onto my children.

The second track has a spoken description of an alien rising from a ship, then the music kicks in and the description you've just heard is brought to life, the music is the alien. The melody rises and falls and is all gloopy and clumsy, like the alien it describes. (I realise that anyone reading this will be thinking I'm off my rocker now, but honestly, once you hear it, you'll understand how descriptive the music is!) I went to see the live show of the musical last year, with a full orchestra playing the music, and it moved me to tears. Again, corny, but that's how much I can be affected by music, especially live music.

Disney's Fantasia is a fabulous example of how descriptive music can be. Beethoven's pastoral symphony being a key one for me. I remember listening to it as a child and my dad telling me about the rabbits playing in the sunshine, then the thunder coming and all the animals running away. Years later when I watched Fantasia, everything he said made sense.Music really can paint a picture and tell a tale, even without lyrics.

My dad was 60 last year and my sisters and I bought him an MP3 player, pre loaded with songs & music from our childhood that reminded us of him. There was all sorts on there; Abba, Chopin, Thin Lizzy, Adam and the Ants and War of the Worlds to name a few. Every song made me smile as it brought memories of my childhood flooding back.

But as I said earlier, music can make me quite melancholy.

Robbie Williams Angels is one, and before you all roll your eyes, hear me out!! My grandad bought me the album for my 16th birthday, but died 5 days later. The whole album reminds me of my grandad really, but that song still brings a lump to my throat.

Kylie and Jason, All I Wanna Do brings mixed feelings. It reminds me of being a kid and being with my sisters, but it also reminds me of my stepfathers funeral. My eldest sister had found the tape the day before and played it in the car to me and my other sister whilst driving to my mums. We were all smiling at the memories, but we were all also upset because of the day it was.

I have a massive appreciation for music, both modern and classical. I have rather eclectic tastes and have everything from Marilyn Manson and Eminen to Abba and Lady Gaga in my music collection. I'll listen to pretty much anything and am always open to new artists or pieces.

Music plays a huge part in my life and it's an appreciation I'll certainly pass onto my children.

But I've waffled on enough, I'm off to immerse myself in War of the Worlds on my way home from Dublin Airport. Prob not too much of a wise idea, seeing as it's dark, quite late and I get scared easily.....uuuuuuuulaaaaahhhh! (You'll understand when you listen to WOTW. Seriously, find it!!)

Much love.


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