I have always been slightly embarrassed by my enjoyment of classical music. I’m quite a self-conscious person, and I think there are certain conclusions which are drawn about people who enjoy classical music. Not that drawing conclusions is wrong, because quite often those conclusions turn out to be correct. Not that that fact alone justifies the act of drawing those conclusions, it doesn’t, but it does make it quite a lot easier to justify to oneself on those occasions when one finds oneself lying awake at night with a videotape of one’s most embarrassing moments playing on a loop in one’s brain.
Or maybe that’s just me.
All of that is by way of saying: I like classical music, but not in that way. Quite a prologue, I know, but hey, if you don’t come here for the witty asides and extensive digressions, then there’s really nothing left for you here.
What do I like about classical music? I’m so glad you asked, conveniently interrupting imaginary audience member. Mainly, I like the fact that it doesn’t have any words. I recognize that lyrics make up probably 50% of why most people listen to music, maybe more. And I am in no way disparaging lyricism. In general, I am a big fan of lyrics. The thing to understand though is that the main time I listen to music is when I am writing, and lyrics, no matter how beautiful, would distract my train of thought and make it generally very hard to finish typing a sentence, let alone a blog post. I should note, I don’t listen exclusively to classical music, even when I’m writing. Anything with no lyrics or lyrics that aren’t in English is fine with me. I’m looking at you, Enya. (A quick aside, but did you know Enya lives in an honest-to-god castle? Look it up). But when I do listen to classical music, probably ~75% of the time when I’m writing, I find myself going back to the same few songs by the same few artists. So I thought I’d share some of them.
The first song I really enjoy when writing is called “Spiegel im Spiegel” by an Estonian composer called Arvo Pärt. You might recognize this composition from any sad movie or documentary ever, because it gets used in all of them. But that’s only because it’s a very sad song. Or maybe it’s happy. It’s good, anyway. And it’s pretty long which is nice because then I don’t have to worry about changing the music every three minutes. That’s another advantage of classical music, often the songs are quite a bit longer than three minutes.
Because I’m nothing if not contradictory (no I’m not [that was a joke (no it wasn’t [yes it was (ad infinitum) ])]), here’s a classical song which is three and a half minutes long. It’s called “The Swan” and it was composed by noted French composer Camille Saint-Saëns [who, despite the name, was a man]. This was composed as part of a much longer work, but it was the only piece which Saint-Saëns deemed worthy to be performed in his lifetime. Or so Wikipedia tells me. I was very surprised when I first heard this piece, because of just how accurately (in my view at least) it evoked the image of a swan, swanning around on a lake. Usually, music named after an animal is hard pressed to evoke any image, due to the fact that it is music and not, say, a nice painting.
Classical music is not the main topic of this blog post, however misleading the above paragraphs may seem. I wanted to share two experiences I had at the College of Wooster where I was once a student. They are two memories that I cherish as two of the happiest points in my life, ever. They both took place during the one year that I was at the College which for those who may not know is located in the middle of Ohio, about a three hour drive from Ann Arbor (if you don’t get stuck waiting for a seemingly endless freight train to pass, which actually happened a lot).
The first memory is as follows. This must have been a Friday night. Possibly a Saturday night. I can’t remember. It doesn’t matter either way. We (that is, myself, my friend from Ann Arbor and a group of people he had introduced me to, who will probably henceforth be referred to as ‘friends’ so as not to write this out every time) had decided to go see a movie. The movie was ‘Arrival’, and it was pretty good. The movie isn’t the memory, though, the memory is what happened after the movie. Because we were a large group (maybe eight people) we had taken two cars to the movie, which finished around 1:30am (it was a midnight movie, as I recall). It was winter time, so by the time we got out of the theater it had begun snowing. Not heavily enough to restrict visibility, but heavily enough that the ground had begun to turn white. Those in our car elected to stop at a McDonalds on the way back to campus. That’s one positive about the College of Wooster: there are three McDonalds’ within walking distance. That doesn’t really apply to this memory though because we were driving. Anyway, that’s the memory: the McDonald’s parking lot, the snow, the friends.
The other memory is more solitary. It also took place at the College of Wooster, but this time in a dorm room. Specifically, the room of aforementioned friend from Ann Arbor. He had a single, because his roommate moved out after one semester. He transferred back to his home town. It was a shame because I liked him, but it was cool because then my friend got a single. So that kind of became the designated hang out spot. But again, in this memory I am alone in his room. It was nighttime, and everyone else had gone to some event. I don’t remember which one. I hadn’t wanted to go, so I stayed behind and watched Silence of the Lambs on my computer. It was dark in the room because I had turned the lights off, and it was raining outside and I had opened the window to hear the rain. That’s the second memory: the room, the rain, the silence of the lambs.
I don’t really know why I’m writing this, other than I want to have these memories recorded for posterity. Sorry if you didn’t enjoy this blog post, it was mostly for me. As a prize for reading all the way through, I’ll tell you that I’m aiming [read: I’ll try but bear with me because my life is kinda busy at the moment] for weekly posts on this here blog. Also, I think my mom’s work life would be perfectly adapted into a TV show so I might try writing one episode and see how that feels. So be on the lookout for that. Also I may or may not be writing a novella and it may or may not be a murder mystery and it may or may not be titled “The Spider’s Web”. Ok, that’s all for now. I’ll post again, hopefully, next week.