Monday, September 1, 2008

Our Short List

September is beginning with a rainstorm, and I love it. There is a recording that I play every year at this time, Autumn, by George Winston. It is a very sensitive, reflective solo piano album that has always felt very evocative of the season for me. He has made many other recordings, but this one will always stand out for me. It resonated with me the first time I heard it.

Yes, of course, there are many other excellent recordings that I enjoy listening to, and this piece is not about trying to list them. Rather it is about how each of us has some pieces of music that come into our lives to stay because there is always something that touches our soul when we hear it.

In the same way, we each have a concert or play that will always stick in our mind as a great performance. It is perhaps impossible to get it down to one, but making a short list is possible. Since our tastes are such an individual thing, what is on my short list will probably differ from yours. What is on each of our lists is not important, although the fact that some musicians and some shows have millions of fans means that obviously we will meet others with similar tastes.

Let's bring it back to the roots. What is really happening when a piece of music touches you deeply, and you never get tired of listening to it? Is it the memory of where or who you were with when you were when you first heard it?

Or is it soul awareness that is being touched? Is it awakening feelings or ideas from our deeper levels of consciousness?

Music can invoke meditative states, and these can open us to greater peace and creativity. Reading a book that really engages us can also take us into a meditative state where our minds are connecting with the author's words at a deeper level and reading a book that really touches us has that same sort of effect. Books are another subject, but I will close this piece with the observation that there is something similar happening when we engage with a favorite piece of music or literature.

There are levels of consciousness that are most effectively opened up and explored by these methods. Think about it. What are your all time favorite pieces of music? Note how they affect you. Yes, and no doubt, some of your favorites have changed over time, but are there any that keep turning up on your short list, even years later?

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