Monday, April 21, 2008

My Interpretation of Maestro Barenboim’s Idea of Silence


I wrote this some time ago for McSweeny's Convergences competition... which I did not win. I know precisely 3 of you have read it; to the others, the instructions are simple: find two or so images that you find connected in some way. Discuss their relationship. Most people take a fairly straightforward approach to this task. I took a slightly more experimental-literary approach. I think it was a successful piece despite the loss.

I often sit and listen to music while turning the pages of the score in my hands. Sometimes I lose myself in the music- other times in the silence of the score. The music ends and I continue to hold it, turn the pages, and listen to the delicate sounds of hand and paper kissing. That silence (of birds above, of paper’s loneliness) is to sound as shadow is to color is indisputable.

Next comes the matter of black dots and white skins. Pupils to pupils- a girl I love(d) had skin like snow, like paper, and eyes like ink. I stared at her in silence and she was music to me. A paper silhouette of a person. Sometimes she spoke in words (notated above)… sometimes we were quiet and we spoke in inaudible heartbeats and blood motions throughout our silent bodies. I have notated the inaudible parts of love on the margins of this page. Another more complex sample is contained in the next three lines:

Then there is the universal application of sound to life (symbolised by the birds) and life to sound. The footsteps of men that we hear but fail to notice. The sounds of children scared from riding the train to school for the first time alone. There are the gasps the moon makes for attention at night (white on black- a music score in reverse), the murmurs of stars as they gossip to one another about us. There is Messiaen with his bird calls, Bach notating prayer after prayer, and Beethoven’s: I am not thinking of your fiddle when the sounds of God occur to me!


_____- I am hearing the sound of your voice crying but have not spoken to you since, how is it that it’s somehow in me?
_____- I walked home tonight and my footsteps disappeared behind the black night (white/black/sound/silence)
_____- After you cried it was a loud silence
_____- In between my footsteps tonight was a soft silence (loud/soft/dark/light)

And finally there are the complexities that emerge from the mere idea of mixing sound, silence, life as animate, life as inanimate, translation of sound to life/life to sound:

Parallels, crosslinks, questions of dynamics (bravery, focus, the concept of interpretation applied to listening, believing, understanding, constructing), rests- which happen sometimes for short periods but end inevitably in a definitive ending even after the final swan-song echoes away to leave just the humming of electric lines passing electrons that always were there and always will be there after… life.

1 comment:

alex_and_ra said...

this comparison is very accurate.
i did an etching of birds on wires and it looks like music notes to me.

(i have a feeling these comments are like needles in a haystack. so for there are two...)