Friday, October 19, 2012

music & nature

It's 5:30, the sky is getting dark, and I'm drinking a beer and listening to Chopin.

I'm at one of my favorite places in the world-- the wet and grey Oregon Coast.  Here for the weekend with some old friends, the coast is a magical place in that nothing happens, nothing has to happen, and the weather is agreeable only in fits and starts.  If it stops raining for more than 5 minutes, you have to take the window of opportunity to go outside, because who knows how long it'll last.

This is a place literally and figuratively at the edge of civilization, at the ends of the earth.  That infinite, liminal space where dirt turns to sand turns to water turns to sky.  It is wild and uncivilized, which is an odd bedfellow for the cultured and refined nature of Chopin.  To hear a mazurka is to think of old world civilizations, of customs and manners borne from years of practice, of buildings and streets and history.  The beach is a place without history.  Well, human history, at least.  So hearing such refined, compact perfection in a place of wildness should be jarring, right?

Somehow, the wild and the restricted, the untamed and the planned fit together like hand in glove.  What underlies both is emotion-- the breaking waves, the sheets of rain, the wind tossing the trees.  You can see them in front of you, AND hear them in the cresting waves of sound Chopin creates.  Music describes nature, nature enriches music.  What a great pair.

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