Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Music of the Spheres

The planets sing in space. They hang on their invisible threads that bind them all to their rotations and their regulated posts; they whirl - massive, inconceivable - and they sing.

Music sweeps in through the ears and goes straight to the gut and the heart before the mind has a chance to register. It's the opening riff of Led Zeppelin's Black Dog. It's the pause in the finale of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, where the French horns and the violins quietly hint at the theme - slowly, slowly - and then the entire choir breaks free in a frenetic crescendo of Joy. It's the steady down beat in Cold War Kids' Old Saint John that sits deep in the hips and belly and grinds there. It's the space between the notes in a well-struck chord, the magic of voices in harmony, the breath before the bridge.

I explain phonemes to my daughter over dinner, how she had all the basic sounds on her tongue for any language in the world when she was born. She giggles with delight when I speak Mandarin to her. I sing the tones and she copies. I explain that there is music in any language if she'd only but listen. She savors the feel of foreign words on her lips and teeth while she chews her chicken. Her laughter in concert with her brother's is how I imagine the planets sound.

Thomas Tallis is the sound of the changing of leaves, for me. Enclosed in those intricate, soaring harmonies are the buds of new life, the rotation of our Earth, the long journey around the sun and back again. It is the voice of my son, before his L's made it out to the tip of his tongue, asking for more, for louder. It is the windows rolled down at intersections and the music, so large, so encompassing we can't hold it all, must let it spill out onto the streets and heavenward.

Even in silence there is music. The steady tattoo of my heartbeat, the aria of breath in rhythm with my walking this sphere. The birds in my yard perform a staccato interlude while they pause and look for bugs and worms and then on cue, a sweeping legato into the sky with wings outstretched, seeking the breeze to carry them to the next measure. The rustling percussion of the trees and grass and the tympani of the seasons, of time, and of the rain on my kitchen windows.

The planets themselves, sing. This is the thought that occupies me today while I conduct the symphony of my life. The simpler path would be to tick off the things on my list, to hurry small feet out the door, to wash, dry, fold, rinse, repeat. The more beautiful path is to hear the music. A small voice in a crowded store reminded me - harried, hurried, out of sorts - to "Stop. Listen. It's our song!" And there, beyond the din of every day, was the music of love. Barely audible to the imperceptive, was the music of the spheres. For me, it is the music of abandon, of laughing so hard I can't breathe, of a family who accepts my quirks, of barefoot spinning and gathering two small people to my hips, hair and tears of joy in my eyes, sweat and breath and bodies colliding - planetary, holy, otherworldly joy.

Like a super trouper
beams are gonna blind me.
But I won't feel blue,
like I always do.
'Cause somewhere in the crowd there's you.


  1. Yay! There's a Periphery post today! :)

    One of the most beautiful things about music for me, is the memories it ties together. Nothing really makes memories alive and makes me ache as I remember, as music does.

    Quite often it really is like that .. otherworldly..

  2. "The simpler path would be to tick off the things on my list, to hurry small feet out the door, to wash, dry, fold, rinse, repeat. The more beautiful path is to hear the music."

    Yep. That is the task, isn't it?

  3. Thanks for including the links so that we could hear too.

  4. Your words are musical- "sweat and breath and bodies colliding- planetary, holy, otherworldly joy." I could listen to them all day.

  5. i like what you wrote about silence. i beleive that without silence there would be no music. i echo what someone else wrote....

    here are so many tones in silence. Everything emanates from silence. There's endless possibility. So when you're writing music, you come from a state of absolute concentration. I actually like, when I’m writing music, to have noise. I have the TV on, and a lot of people are always in my house making noise. It doesn't make a difference to me because I'm going to be concentrating with such intensity on what I'm trying to hear that the inside of my mind will be absolutely silent, except for what I’m hearing. And when I stop hearing it or if I stop, then there's absolute quiet. So that absolute silence is very important. It's like a meditation. In trumpet playing, we have something called long tone -- just one tone that you hold -- and that tone can become like white noise, like the sound of the ventilation. We hear "Whhhhh," and you try to make that tone so still that it is like silence.

  6. The planets do sing. I don't there is any music more fulfilling or beautiful than laughter. Laughter from joy, from the silly places, from shared love.

    Your words sing off the screen and I hear you laugh.

  7. This is exactly the kind of sound I want to hear, not all that noise that floats around all over the internet, for people to nip at like fighting fish. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.


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