Thursday, July 5, 2007
the sound of music, or should I say the picture of music
There is a rhythm to life. A beat courses through every action, every movement, every sound, sight, and smell. This beat is the soundtrack of everyday; it is up to you whether you listen and hear it. The next time you are walking down the street, notice every little detail, and listen in your head to the sound it makes. See the sounds.
This process works both ways. Listen and see. Close your eyes, slam a book, you can see how dense it is, if it is paperback or hardbound, you can see it hitting the table and falling to the ground. What about abstract sounds, something that doesn’t already have a visual connotation in your mind? Play a piano, but do not picture a piano and the player, instead follow the story that the notes tell you. Pay attention to the mood of the music and set your own images to the auditory tale that each sound weaves.
Listening to master saxophonist Jean Toissant’s wailing music, many jazzy images pop up: a tap dancer, a smoky bar, a sexily clad lady, a burning cigarette. However one piece in particular, told a different tale. This piece evolved with time, starting off with a steady beat, a slow introduction. I saw a nervous athlete, getting hyped up before a game, knowing what to expect, and expecting surprises. Meditating on a bench spotlighted in a dark gym, elbows on knees, hands kneading his neck deep in concentration.
The tune changed a bit, quickened, and Toissant hits some high notes. The game has started, our hero’s heart is beating, adrenaline pumping, ready to fight. Here is the tip off, the ball is in possession.
As the song continues you can imagine the game progressing, the beat of the ball hitting the ground with each step, players passing back and forth moving up and down the court. Any small hiccup in the tune can be fancy foot work, or a fast break.
As the song comes to a close, the pace quickens again full of suspense. I imagined a rebound, our hero grabs the ball out of mid air, spins and heads down the court. The sax wails and screams as he dribbles toward the basket. A sudden screech means our athlete ran into some trouble, had to stop in his tracks and avoid some defence, he swivels around evading the grabbing hands of the other team and passes to a team mate. This all happens in slow, yet fast motion. His senses are heightened, similar to a life or death situation. His court vision is spectacular, he can see everything happening, he feels the sweat on his face and back, he can hear shoes squeaking on the waxy court, and like tunnel vision he zeroes in on the ball that is headed straight toward him. The music follows each sense explaining how the ball feels in his hands, how he can smell the players around him. Each squeal of the sax is another exciting moment.
As the music begins its crescendo; the drummer picking up the pace hitting each drum, the piano running up and down the keys frantically, the bass keeping that backbeat going, and Toissants sax singing out of control, our hero makes it past the defence. He jumps, flying above everybody. Hands shoot up trying to block him but it is too late. He stretches reaching for the basket and almost effortlessly releases the ball, like handling a fragile bird, and lets it slip through the net. With the last lingering vibrations of the drummer’s symbols, the lights fade to black on the court and our athlete is walking head held high through the exit.