Monday, December 13, 2010

Songs in the Key of Dreams

Sorry I haven't been writing lately, but I have been having a rough time of it.  School is wicked and it's Yule season and everything's crazy and such.  Hopefully I will be writing more, as that usually is cathartic for me anyway.

So I've been listening to a lot of Christmas carols and seasonal music.  Yes, I listen to Christmas music, even the sacred stuff.  Well, I grew up with it, and since it's harder to unlearn something than to learn it I listen to a lot of Christmas music.  Besides, music can have different meaning for me; my whole family is all about the music.  I was thinking about this yesterday, about how I grew up with music all around me and as such an important part of every day, whether it be singing, listening, or playing.  I was at my dad's house the other day and though I've noticed the radio in every room before it really occurred to me the reason for a radio (sometimes multiple, and often portable so you'll never be without sound wherever you go in the apartment) in every room.  Yesterday my housemates and I were singing Christmas music in the car and I knew more of the words than anyone else.

What I'm trying to get at is music is just that to me: music.  Yeah, I take issue with the words sometimes (I almost erased all my music with a reference to "God," "Lord," or "Jesus" yesterday because I was so fed up with it), but music is about the music to me, not the lyrics.  And going back to the whole "I grew up with it" thing, a lot of the melodies really resonate with me.  Many Christmas carols are quite beautiful, and if you actually listen to the lyrics they often sound like a hasty translation (which they probably are) and they sound very hurried and artificial, like someone needed to fill space.  Short story: the lyrics suck.  Not all the time (I love "Angels We Have Heard on High) but often they feel forced (first line of "Three Kings");  in the end it's really all about the melody.  And the best melodies (in my opinion) are in a minor key.

As young as 3 I felt the magic of minor (bc I told my mom I liked "Carol of the Bells" because it sounds "sad").  Are you ever listening to something and you get a chill down your spine as all the hair on your arms stand up?  Does music ever make your heart ache and sing along, like you're pining for a perfect home you knew once but not for many years?  It feels like being in love but far away, like seeing your little cottage on the shore while in the surf in a little skiff and the tide is hurrying you out to sea.  I can only compare it to how I feel, and my dreams usually have a faery-tale theme, full of castles and queens and knights and ladies and chivalry and honor and adventures.  And princesses, obviously.  "Gawain and the Green Knight" kind of stuff.

It's not just Christmas music that feels like magic.  It's mostly stuff in minor keys, but pretty much anything Celtic does it for me.  I can see the trees, dappled with emerald sunlight, the colors dark under the canopy, the surety of faeries in the sparkling air.  I listen to music for the chance to hear magic from songs in the key of dreams.

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