This blog will be a little different than the usual fare.
I’ve finished my D1 of the new Pa’adhe short story. It came in at 18,900 words. I expect that to wind up closer to 15,000 in D2, the first version to go out to my Alpha readers. As is my wont, I’ve now set it aside for a while, most likely until Friday or Saturday. That allows me to clear my mind and examine it afresh when I resume working on it.
This time around, I’m not even working on another Pa’adhe short story during this time.
Now on to the title….
I was wondering about various things throughout the day. My mind would just jump to some odd thought, I never knew what would trigger it. For example, I was watching the latest commercial for the Kia Soul car. Set in the 1600s, according to the costumes, it prompted me to remark to my wife, “You know, Beethoven was like that, a punk rocker for those times.” Then I started wondering, if we consider Beethoven the punk rocker of his time, and we consider his music classical, then what did Beethoven consider classical music?
I can do some research, and discover what defines classical music then apply that definition to music pre-dating Beethoven. That will at least tell me what we would consider to be classical music if we lived then. Would the definition still be valid for Beethoven? Perhaps, perhaps not. At that time, if memory serves, they considered classical to be anything having to do with the Greeks. Perhaps even the Romans. There are lots of ways to go through that exercise.
There are times when I wonder why I’m deaf or if I had bad Karma in a previous life. There must be something I’m being punished for, because I love music and I can’t even hear it. I don’t even remember any sounds at all, except one. On top of that, I can only describe it in reference to another sound. All I remember is the sound of a single triangle. I only remember a…well, ting-innnnnnngggggg-innnnnnnnnnggggggggggggggg. I don’t even remember the actual sound, I only remember the verbal descriptive sound appropriate for a reference. Even more funny, if you will, is that I don’t remember it coming from a triangle but rather it was the sound coming from the door in front of me. What’s behind that door or where the hallway is, I have no idea.
Anyway, back to the bad Karma by being deaf and loving music. Many years ago, I worked out a data table for music based on the full-sized piano keyboard. Eighty-eight notes spread across 256 bits, each bit represented by a color. Hue-based volume, contrast-governed duration, a scrolling representation of pitch, and other representations of all the musical parameters that I can think to handle every musical nuance I can.
That came back to me later on after thinking about Beethoven. It dawned on me that there are many, many references to music being mathematical. So I started wondering, if that’s true, and I know that musical organization, such as the relationships between the various notes, is mathematical, then it should be possible to identify some way, some formulaic or algorithmic method of representing a musical composition. From there I went back to my original Android app premise: some app that will take the music in over the mic and display it reliably and repeatedly the same way for the same piece of music every time. Then I can start to enjoy music even if I can’t hear it.
A few days ago a friend mentioned to me something that got me wondering about climbing to the mountaintop for knowledge, understanding, or self-knowledge. You know the type.
“There’s nothing on the top of the mountain.”
It’s true the mountaintop is an euphemism. However, I’ve been on enough mountaintops that I know there can be something there. Sometimes you bring it with you, sometimes you see such a panorama or a view or a scene that you reflect on it. It may not always lead to self-discovery, but it will always lead to discovering something when you have such a reaction. Those who climb mountains to stand on mountaintops are susceptible to such moments.
Even music can be found there. Yeah, we’re back to music again.
Anyway, back to music on the mountaintop. Sitting on the mountaintop one day, I watched a distant bird. I was just sitting there, eating lunch and enjoying the view. It was so calming, I was so completely relaxed I had to consciously remind myself to eat my sandwich, to take a bite. There was this bird that caught my eye, the only one in the sky, down below me seen against the trees. Unthinkingly I watched it flying around and my mind began to play music according to its’ flight. As it flit from point to point, the notes in my head changed. For a while I just sat there and “listened” to the flight of the bird. The bird was the melody, the boats on the lake and the trees swaying in the breeze were the harmony. The bird eventually flew behind some trees and the music faded out and peace settled in. I don’t know how long I sat there, seeing the scene before me, watching the interaction of the boats on the water, the trees waving in the wind, waiting for the music again. Eventually I remembered my sandwich, which had somehow changed from soft bread to toast. I ate it anyway.
I wish I knew it’s power over me. Much of my previous writing, my fictional writing, before I started this blog involved music in some form or way. For me, music is mystical. It has a power of its own, as so many before me have said. It has a magic above and beyond the magic of mathematics. It calls to our souls if we let it, it raises us in its comforting arms, it soothes our wounded hearts, it restores our faith in things, and if we’re not careful, it can do the exact opposite of all this as well. Music is magical, music is mystical, music is innate.
And I’m totally and completely deaf.