Thursday, 8 January 2015

Driving thru a Painting

I have started 2015 the best possible way* with noodles for breakfast with my grandparents; and a long drive from Melbourne to Canberra in my trusty, scratched and scarred, approximately white, Kia Rio while listening to a Emma Ayers' brilliant book, "Cadence: travels with music, a memoir" read by Emma, herself. The choice was a rather lucky chance - my own bag of tried and tested CDs was lost somewhere and 8 hours is too long to get stuck alone with new horrible music - so I picked up what looked like a safe bet. 

If I hadn't called this blog-post Driving thru a Painting, I would have called it - Am I crazy to want to learn an instrument because Sherlock Holmes played it?

I did not grow in a particularly musical family - if anything, I was encouraged not to listen to music and not to hum it - it is not as cruel as it sounds, the lyrics of popular songs, while simply nonsense to my child mind, were positively offensive to the adults around. And my parents were travellers, we were usually kept busy enough settling into houses or moving out of them - and unlike what most people assume, it is actually a rather wonderful way to live. However, it was impossible to commit to anything over years. But I have learned to love music in my own, what is popularly called, the left-brain way. Music that I have deciphered like a foreign language (or more likely, being one with computer science training, a computer language) has a wide range. My nephew who has started learning some classical music at the age of 4 years, uses it to decipher and mimic the music of car chases in movies and awful sounds of video games that are simply ubiquitous. That boy's life has a sound track going with it, and when it is not giving me a head ache, I am quite in awe of it! Emma titles her chapters as B major and something else minor in her book, that is all gibberish to me - but while she doesn't sing it (oh! how I regret that!) she deciphers it rather nicely - like words in a foreign language or operators in computer languages, showing how simply they can be used to do these complicated things like expressing emotions and in one of her teacher's words "nurturing people's souls" - truly!

My dad can draw, rather well, like an engineer and my mum can paint, wonderfully, like an artist. They are both pretty good, but so very different. I think I am good programmer when I choose to write code - just the kind of code Papa would write if he programmed - beautiful and clean, slightly minimalistic and the kind of code people don't mind taking over. But in music, I'd rather be fanciful and imaginative and brave enough to have those wonderfully long strokes and weird small hodgepodge of criss-crosses that Mum would do when she would paint.

Since my introduction to music has primarily thru words, is it a wonder that I want to pick up an instrument of Sherlock Holmes and Albert Einstein? As I have watched Sherlock and Elementary and all the Holmes movies, and as I have heard Emma talk about music that speaks of sunny days and meeting of friends and other that speaks of despair and dark heavy nights, and as I have seen music being mimicked by my nephew; I have come to a happy place. I have understood that there is no way I will be able to do those incredible range of music on any instrument, and I have realised that I would never want to - much like I can potentially read ANY thing written in English and Hindi but I do not want to. If I can only learn to copy those snippets of music on those movies and shows and know the joy of making music from an instrument that Holmes used. I can almost imagine it to be like learning a new language, and I still remember the thrill of learning about new computer languages and how they would open this whole new world - like having a car instead of just your own two feet - there was just so much you could do. I might not drive too far, but if I work hard enough, I will go to the few places I wouldn't mind visiting alone.

Emma's book was wonderful, she was talking about bicycling and music - it was the start of the new year, the very first day of January and I was driving on a lovely road thru a beautiful sparse and sunny Australian landscape. It was full of potential and it felt like the best beginning to the year possible, with kind voice in my ear and the sun on my back and the wind gently nudging me on.     
*okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but only in a teeny-est tiny-est way

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