Thought Catalog
July 2, 2014

You Want To Hear Music? This Is How You Hear Music.

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Seoul, South Korea. 2008
image - Flickr / Héctor García
image – Flickr / Héctor García

You’re in a big city, across the ocean from the only home you ever knew… Summer brings its heat, brings its sun, brings people out on the sidewalks and sees kids wishing they weren’t in school. Your walk to work makes you sweat through your shirt, and when you go out on weekends, you drink beer just to stay cool.

And then it hits. The evanescent changing of the guard – one day summer decides to step aside, and with a gust of nightly wind, Fall is ushered in.

You used to think that summer was your favorite season, but there’s something about that smell of cool air. There’s something about finally being able to take a deep breath in the smog-infested city. But most of all, that breath of autumn air reminds you of things – things almost forgotten, or maybe only recognized in dreams, and you feel alive again. It’s a drug, a trigger, a drink of water all at the same time. The memories of Octobers past come rushing back and your soul is entranced, enraptured, and ecstatic all at once. You think about that girl you used to know…wished you still knew. You think about basketball season starting up, about the bonfires and porch parties in college, you think about lazy sunny days with the window open and music roaring…all the little things that it took losing to really miss.

You nap in the Saturday afternoon sun and then wake up in time to catch the subway downtown. You go all alone but somehow that’s ceased to bother you and instead of feeling alone, you feel alive…maybe for the first time. The train is crowded, everyone heading out on the first glorious fall day of the year. Young couples hand in hand, friends arm in arm – you see the old folks sleeping on each other’s shoulders…and you start to feel vacantly alone again. But then you reach your stop, check the time, straighten the sport coat you’ve donned for the first time this year, and head towards the concert hall. Along the way you stroll past music stores, chic cafes, and uber-aesthetic bars and clubs. You’re in the ‘Arts District’, and everything here is like a dream. Everyone is pleasant, everyone is imaginative, everyone is excited to continue on their quest of perusing the next day of life as if it were a fresh art exhibit come to town. But tonight it’s not painting – it’s music – and you sit in the “Italian” cafe on the corner sipping a good beer and watching the people around you; everyone eating and drinking in anticipation of the more fulfilling stuff the night has yet to bring. You grin at all the smiling people, walk out, cross the long intersection, and head up the stairs, the din of city traffic already starting to fade as you enter the surreal sanctuary of the arts.

You take your seat, the lights dim, the crowd comes abruptly to dead silence and even the slightest shuffle seems a disturbance now. The performers enter through the voluptuous wood stage door and immediately the crowd erupts with the eager applause of anticipation. They bow and the cellist readies himself, flicking his bow hand and shaking out his fingers…the pianist does likewise, lifting his hands to the keys, retracting them, then placing them again. Hush…and the music begins. There are no monitors, no amps, no kits and no boards – there are two men – two men with two instruments made of nothing but wood, string, metal fibers, and horse hair…and the music is glorious. You watch carefully as the cellist’s fingers dance along the neck of his instrument, effortlessly caressing the wood into singing the sweet sound of Beethoven’s sonatas. The pianist rumbles and flicks the keys. The sound is aromatic and potent, lush and full, and sharp but smooth all at the same time. A single shade of white light shines down on the musicians as they play. It illuminates the faces and gives the instruments the hue of ancient treasure. If you didn’t know better you’d think that God Himself had opened up a little corner of Heaven so He could look onto the stage…and maybe you’d be right.

You close your eyes and the notes permeate your entire being. The wave washes over you like soft breeze on a summer night. You inhale, and the music cleanses your soul. You drift into semi-consciousness as the notes wind into legato. You close your eyes and see life as it has been, life as it could be, life as it is…life as it should be. Faces of old friends and memories of past times play like a motion picture in your mind, the scene moving along with every passing measure. You become pensive and careless all at once. You feel free once again. You open your eyes to see the spectacle once more.

Two men in a spotlight, eyes closed, fingers dancing in vibrato, and faces churning with the music. You look around to see everyone equally enraptured. Turning your full attention back to the music you drift away and start to think to yourself, that of all the noises from all the beings in all the earth and across all the galaxies of existence – that maybe, just maybe, God has His supreme radio tuned in to this concert right here…and what’s more, He is delighted. TC mark

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