I paint music

16 October, 2008 - Thursday

It kind of goes without saying that I like books, art, movies, politics, current events, keeping up with what is going on in the world. But the main thing.. the one thing.. the most important thing.. is music.

Music plays in my head a lot. I hear Vivaldi’s Op 8 – The Autumn Allegro in my head, or the backbeat to an AC/DC song, the riff by Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Cello being made love to by Yo-Yo Ma, the grating sound of Cyndi Lauper, and the sultry voice of Billie Holiday.

I played flute when I was young in a school band. We played everything from marches to orchestral pieces. One of the things I took with me from that experience was to be able to discern different instruments within a piece. I also.. and this sounds so silly..*see* music. I can almost see the sheet music in front of my eyes, the notes fling through my mind, as if they had wings.

One friend of mine listens to music, but doesn’t pay attention to lyrics. Another friend won’t listen to music that has lyrics, and yet another friend won’t listen to music without lyrics. I’ve never really understood how they can do that — dismiss so much music. Don’t like lyrics? You miss out on the amazing things Pink Floyd did. Don’t pay attention to lyrics? How can you enjoy Amy Lee’s voice without hearing her lyrical words? And by dismissing music that does not have lyrics, how can you know the amazing beauty of Bach, and the stories in music by Chopin?

Music has shaped me — helped me get through the awful times of my life, as well as the good times. Throughout my life, music, in some form or fashion, has been like a soundtrack playing in the background. There was a time, for about a year, where I did not listen to music – too much sadness in every song I heard. When I finally let music back into my life, this.. calmness came over me. As if I had replaced a part of myself that had been ripped away. As much as music is a part of my life, it is also a part of how I *live* my life. Music influences what I do, how fast I drive, mirrors my mood, infects my sense of self, shapes my art, and gives me peace.

Music is art in the air, art in the sound, art in the noise. Music is given voice by the beat of the timpani, the deep aching emptiness of a tamtam, the erie quality and sadness of an erhu, the raw sound of a steel pedal guitar stroked by strong hands, to the lyrics a singer brings forth.

Leopold Stokowski said, “A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.” I’m no musician, and not really much of an artist, but I always paint canvas while listening to music. My art is completely influenced my what music is playing. My paintings reflect the song, the sounds, the music, the lyrics. I did a piece the other day (here), that was, for me, almost a literal translation of a song. To somebody looking at it, without the music, it might be “too out there and weird”(as I was told), but when I see the piece, I can hear the song play through my head.

I’m not really sure why I felt the need to write about music today. Perhaps because the painting I did last night is really still with me. I have an intense desire to continue to paint that song. Because that is what I do, really. I paint music.

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