Friday, September 30, 2016

Making Music Approximately

September 30, 2016 "Wherever you go, a quarter note is a quarter note, the notes of the scales remain the same. Music truly is the universal language." Frank was commenting on the music theory lesson we had been struggling to get into our brains. A G7 diminished minor chord contains the same notes whether it's played in Uganda, Vienna, or here in Western New York. The instrumentation may vary, but the essence of the chord remains the same. I love making music, although it is difficult to say with a straight face that what I do with an instrument is making music. I hear beautiful sounds in my head, but somehow my fingers only get the message occasionally. Most of the time they are in a running argument with the sheet music. "Are you kidding me? You want us to hit all those notes at the right time without missing a beat?" Most of the time, my fingers win the argument while my brain just sighs. I suspect our conductor does a lot of sighing, too, in between repeated sips of wine. Growing up, my friends would sing along to the latest songs. They knew all the words. I knew the melodies, but in my mind the lyrics often went something like, "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show, La, La, La..." My grandkids sing along to today's songs just like my friends used to. At best, I hum. They have it on while studying. If I have the radio on while I'm trying to read, before I know it, my mind has wandered off task, following the musical rabbit trail in the background. I still have boxes of old LPs that I can't bring myself to get rid of, along with a small cabinet of CDs I haven't listened to in ages. But given the opportunity to put my hands to my bass, I'm ready to give it my best shot, which is what I'm sure some folks would like to do to me when I'm in a musical mode. The Bible says that at Creation, the morning stars sang together, and to this day, the Universe reverberates with waves of sound audible only to the angels and sophisticated electronic equipment. I like to think of music as the voice of God, and am grateful to be able to give voice even if imperfectly, to the Voice that is the source of all melody, harmony, and rhythm.

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