Sunday, August 3, 2008

memories in songs

recently, i've been thinking about the songs i play on the piano, an instrument which i play since about eight or more years. due to never having had lessons, in contrast to my sister [her being the reason there was a piano in the house, to begin with], my development was quite different to that of a normal student of the piano.

there are several songs which i've been playing since almost the beginning of my endeavours. having them under my fingers for so long, developing each by nuances, they have a thousand implications to me. a song, thus, is not just an entity in music, but a kaleidoscope of memoria and emotion to me.

in the beginning, almost all of the songs came from games of the final fantasy series. i played them not only for their musical value, but also for their personal emotional imprint. each time i played them, i remembered scenes from the games and how i had played them with friends.
with time, i learned more songs from other parts of the musical universe, and the memories connected to them range from strong emotional anchors and cues to small things like sentences someone said or the weather on a day i played the song. by all this, the songs have become larger than themselves. as a matter of fact, many of them i do not play for themselves anymore - as they might feel to kitschy or simply not so much my taste now - but rather for the things they carry. for the journey i take when playing them.

this journey is each time a careful tightrope walk between music and thought. even in the pre-piano days, when i had lessons in playing the recorder, i always had quite a handicap in reading score. though this has gotten somewhat better lately, it had a large impact on my development on the piano.
some people thought, i'd be talented enough to play everything from audio-memory. much less exciting and talented, my way was always moving through the score of a song at snail's pace and very quickly memorising it by heart. learning to play it at normal speed would then function mostly from memory. looking at score while playing a song mostly disturbs me so much that i fail to carry on playing.
now, i'm not telling this to boast about my memory, but because the fact i play every song by heart means that my mind is relatively free to wander while i play. this, though, is the ridge walk: i have to let my mind wander freely, to some extent, in order for my fingers to play properly [from their own memory]. but the moment my mind wanders too far and i start actively thinking about the things i think about, the memory of the song is disrupted and often i have to start all over from the beginning [or beginning of a passage] again.

thus, my journey during each song is mostly a movie being played by my subconscious, with the conscious mind carefully being silent. and that is the ground on which all kinds of memories and associations come up and float by my inner eye.
in one song [phillip glass - opening; koyaanisqatsi ost], at a certain passage, i remember telling my ex about how i like this part [and certain triad] to which he replied that he already noticed that. with another one, i remember a close relative telling me, on hearing the song [which then i only played with my right hand], that i should play it on the person's funeral; it being a funerary song [nobuo uematsu - aerith's theme; final fantasy VII ost].
i remember places that i've played the individual songs in, or the persons who ever listened to me playing them. i remember how sometimes my fingers trembled, and then my fingers tend to begin to tremble once more, just from the memory.
also, i look back and see each song today as a long development over all the years. some, for years, i couldn't learn properly and only somehow completed. nowadays, having learned their score from beginning to end, finally, the songs have come a long way.

much like my book of thoughts [i do not keep a normal diary] which my sister gave me for my 18th birthday, four years ago, i often wish to finish these episodes and move on.
the book, after all these years, still has a great many empty pages. but all the things it holds, though dear to me, often are an unwanted weight on me - something i'd like to finally close and put onto the bookshelf, to only take when nostalgia strikes me. each time i write in it, today, i desire for a fresh start, a fresh book, but of course i'd never leave the rest of the pages remain white and unwritten.
so, just the same, the songs stick to me like a skin with many carvings, and only very slowly i add new songs to my repertoire for which maybe, slowly, an old one might fade from memory. it is a process slower than my own growing, like a retrospective view in slow motion that i carry around with me, willing or not.

do you play? what does it mean to you, and what do the songs you play hold for you?


saturninus said...

after this thread of thoughts, you should definitely read Musicophilia... but you'll have a chance for almost 20 days now! :)

pílong said...

i will soon have enough free time to wander through glass' works :p
of course using the same method, but at impaired snail's pace :D

miss chaser said...

(finally i made it to your blog! i am so behind. T___T)

and this, sweet friend, is why we must play the piano together one day. half the time it's the memories and not that music that keep me playing. those will be beautiful days.

also: i find it coincidental that you should call your "diary" a book of thoughts, for i call my own the Think Book...