Monday, April 13, 2009
Music For The First Time
When was the last time you heard music for the first time? The notes from an old David Bowie song jump from the steel guitar strings, they rush through the air, vibrating moments apart from each other, they leap into the ears of a toddler running by. The men stand on a street that’s crowded with vendors selling the first strawberries of spring and the remnants of a short winter’s harvest. A toddler waddles by, she runs past the music and then two feet past, she stops abruptly and turns once to the right, then to the left, as though trying to identify something, looking for something she saw or felt on the edges of her consciousness. She stands still for two seconds, then turns around and runs back to the musicians, to the source of the music that fills the street. She stands still in front of them, like a small mortal at the feet of giants that reverberate in the world of sound. She stares at them, without a smile, without an indication of joy or fear, just an open mouthed stare that borders on disbelief, as though she is trying to understand her perception. I look past her and see a middle aged man sitting on the warm asphalt with two small children in his lap, their attention focused on the musicians. Is this the first time they’ve heard the orchestrated notes of a Bowie song? The first time this particular arrangement of seven notes has run through their ears? They come towards the music like strange worshipers to a stone covered in undecipherable marks. Unsure and curious. Like a vibrational comet, they fall towards the closest source of sound. They can always find an airplane in the sky or point to a pinecone perched on a table full of soap and incense. A little baby stares with wide eyes at the singing face in front of her. Her big hazel eyes take it all in, watching everything. I wonder how she senses each note. Is it a pure sensation, like touching snow? Does she see it though a lense of color and sparkles, not just hearing, but seeing the music that moves around her like a breathing story? The crowd moves past her, adults with bags full of ripe produce, ten year old children that care more for their ice cream cones than the two buskers under the full sun, children that have already begun to watch the magic drain from their bodies like bubbles from a bath swirling down the drain. The baby is in her father’s arms, she points to the music over his shoulder, but he is busy talking to an older woman in a stylish jacket, he doesn’t see her tiny hand rise up in a tight fist, she jerks it in the air, as though pounding a drum and then opens her little hand, pointing to the musicians. She stares at them, fascinated, captivated. Suddenly, she looks away. Something has broken the spell. Sooner or later, something always does.