Thursday, January 10, 2013

finding my tongue

When I was a kid, music was my thing. When someone asked me what my hobby was, I said "playing the piano". When asked what I liked to do in my free time I said "I play the piano". I was the kid who bunked sports to go sit at rusty pianos in a musty, dark room. I was subsequently punished for bunking throwball. I knelt on a tar field, tears streaming down my face, not because of humiliation, but because I wanted to go back and continue playing. I was never a performer. I managed to pass a few Trinity grades, but I disliked being asked to play for an audience. I was happy when I was alone with a piano, both of us isolated, cocooned warmly by the knowledge that nobody would come by for a long time.

That was a good fifteen years ago.

Things are the same today. I have never been a band person. I'm still not much of a performer though I like having someone to sing. I'm a pathetic jammer. But now, I don't find the contentment I used to. Playing music has become less of a vent and more of a bother. I think it's because I understand more now. Had I not started listening to Keith Jarret or Chick Corea, I would've been a happier person as a musician. I would've strung a bunch of chords together and been content. But now, I know what I want something to sound like, and I can't get that sound out of my system. And I want to spare myself from my own audience.

It is frustrating to be able to understand something and be unable to reproduce it. It also frustrating that what you once thought you were a natural at suddenly seems alien. I hate having to make an effort to play music. Just be free, they say.  Let go. At which point I let my fingers wander over the notes aimlessly, modulating, dying into meaninglessness.

Translating abstract into words, verse and sentences is different. I get a kick out of writing exactly what's in my head. It satisfies, encourages, absorbs, relieves. I don't have a role model to follow. I just sit down and talk. I see a picture in my head and I can repaint it exactly the same way without using visuals. I feel a feeling and I can recreate that feeling - or at least, the memory of it. I don't have to try to be good, or try to be interesting. I don't write for a reader. I don't have to try. The ease of expression is liberating.

Writing is my thing.

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