Author: Compton, Cliff

Music of the Senses

The first column I ever wrote for the CBA on the web was about feeling music. I talked about how I didnít want to just play music, or hear music, I needed to feel what I was playing, singing or hearing.

Sid Lewis wrote a column in the last breakdown about sitting in with a brass band playing Balkan music, a music well outside of his comfort zone, a music that initially confounded and confused him, but as he listened, his brain disconnected and his body began to move and he found himself dancing in his chair, playing body parts like a drum, completely lost in the sounds and rhythms of life.

Well...after I got through rolling on the floor with laughter (as I always do when I read a Sid Lewis column), I got to thinking about what he said, and sort of filtered it through my own experience.

I directed a Romanian fanfara group at one time, basically a brass oopah band. How that came about I wonít go into, other than to say that they needed someone in front of them to keep them in time and I could wave my arms and count so I was elected. It wasnít really my cup of poison, beings that they neglected to attach any strings to them horns, but standing in front of about twelve loudly played horns will affect you, if youíre alive and breathing, it affects you at a cellular level and it will make the hair on your neck stand up and your heart march weather you want to or not.

I know about this using your body as a drum and chair-dancing thing that Sid was talking about. It is the unavoidable result of listening to music for me. I canít intellectualize music, itís an all body experience for me. I can remember one time watching The Wilders play their hot brand of old-time music and feeling it to the degree that it was like falling in love at sixteen. My body was moving of itís on volition and I was drumming my legs and chest till they were bruised. I could feel that music from my eyeballs to my skin and that there is the whole truth.

I watched a recent Ted Talks music episode where I Deaf symphony percussionist explained how music is so much more than what you hear. How it is a total sensory experience if you let it be. Some people see colors as they listen to music. Those who work the lights on stage are intuitively aware of this and help facilitate it with the changing colors of the lights. With me that only happened in the sixties and the early seventies, and thatís all Iíve got to say about that.

Iíve never understood people who play music like they are playing a typewriter. Note perfect, intellectually perfect, but lifeless and soulless. From my small headed perspective, music ainít a pastime.

Itís a sensory carnival of delight. The rhythms and lifeís blood of existence. I remember a Spanish language C.D. that Henry and Nancy Zuniga produced that I used to play over and over again. I couldnít understand a word they sang, but there was one song on the C.D. that would that cause me to cry every time I heard it. Something about it affected me at deep level that I could never really understand.

To me, thatís what I want in my music. Something that moves me. Something that feeds the life force within me. Something that effects me from my fingertips to deeps of my soul.

Not just music, but life itself.

Keep pickinĒ.
Posted:  12/13/2013

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