The lunar tundra
About once a year, a recording seizes my hand and pulls me into a labyrinth. Once there, I want to wander around forever. I spent much of 2006 meandering through a CD called Cloudburst by Polyphony, an English choral group.
I played the song 'Sleep' over and over and over.
The evening hangs beneath the moon
A silver thread on darkened dune
With closing eyes and resting head
I know that sleep is coming soon.
I wandered through “Sleep” on my way to work, to the grocery store, to the library. Every moment a driveway moment. I lost myself in a trance. 'Sleep' is the collaboration between Eric Whitacre and poet Charles Anthony Silvestri. It explores the mystical moment between awareness and sleep.
This year, I've been drawn to “Into the Light” from the choral group The Sixteen. Director Harry Christophers, the singers, soloists, and guitarist Kaori Muraji create an otherworldly space with the simplest combinations. I’m hypnotized by Pachelbel's Canon wedded to a poem by Oscar Wilde.
Tread lightly, she is near
Under the snow,
Speak gently, she can hear
The daisies grow.
OK, it's a bit morbid, but so am I.
Gigi Yellen from KING-FM in Seattle suggested this whole CD is journey to death, a kind of hospice guidance tool. Others have described it as “too sentimental.”
I still like it.
Which brings me to a friend’s blog about buying the Lord of the Rings soundtrack.
You can read the whole thing at http://drewtherat.blogspot.com/, but the lines that struck me are:
“I've been saying for years that I wanted to get the soundtracks to the Lord of the Rings films. I finally borrowed the first two from the library. I'm not an expert on classical music or film scores, but I think Howard Shore's compositions stand as great works in their own right.”
What’s that again?
“I'm not an expert on classical music or film scores, but . . .”
I hear phrase this all the time.
People only talk this way about classical music. I mean here’s a well-read, intelligent, culturally savvy person tacking on a unnecessary disclaimer. I doubt he would feel the need to do so if he were talking about a film or novel. The problem stems from what writer Alex Ross calls “the lunar tundra of the classical experience.”
I wish people didn’t think they needed a level of expertise to enjoy classical music – or any kind of music for that matter.
Don’t think. Listen. Let it pull you in. Lose yourself.