Friday, 27 January 2012

Experiencing Music

Sometimes I have a hard time using words to describe my very visceral reaction to music, sound, and art (and variants and combinations of all three!)

Last night was the first of three Newfound Music Festival concerts. It was the first "pre-packaged" concert program I've seen here at Memorial - and boy, was it ever effective. I've always enjoyed the theatrical flair that comes with vocal performances (and especially those from sopranos!) and the added interaction between singer and pianist really helped the program flow into a cohesive narrative.

What really stood out to me was the text used - all French poetry. I was taken aback by the quality of all the textual choices - the poetry was beautiful, evocative, and stirring. Here's where the trouble in describing comes: I go through a bit of an emotional journey when I listen to "strong" music. I feel like art that captures the human experience is the most impacting; it stirs in me some sort of universal camaraderie - a reminder that we all love passionately, that we all feel sorrow, that we all ache, and that we all die. It's both a light and heavy feeling; there are many joys that we share but an equal amount of pain. Art that reflects life causes me to become very introspective, even during the performance - I find it embarrassing to be watched while listening to music that I enjoy, because my emotions are very transparent. Clever compositional techniques, unexpected turns in the harmony, and other parts of the music that I enjoy are all broadcast from my facial expressions. I feel like music can very easily manipulate my mood, but it is hard to describe tangibly how and why it does so.

After exhausting the introspection that always comes after a great performance of equally great music, I realized that I would really like to work with text more. I've always found that I write quickest with text; the mood of the poetry makes decision making for the mood of the music quite easy. The swells and lulls of intensity in the music should reflect that of the writing. I realized last night that there is a plethora of beautiful or haunting text to set - and I'd like to start diving into words and finding their music.