Some Musical Notes

Whatever planet was ruling my techno house has passed out of it, and I am no longer obsessing with indefinable, unanswerable cybersphere questions. Querying the digital heavens is a lot like talking to whom confused Christians call God, (in her many manifestations—all of which is in our heads). There is never a clear definition of anything.

Enough of this. Today I write about music.

Although I hate to read about music. What I mean is that music critics, when describing composers and artists, use words. I have the same arguments with art critics and even critics of literature, although since literature—writing, books, etc—is made from words, it’s easier to snatch a quote from a book and interpret, interrogate, and generally opinionate about it.

When I read about new (or old) music in my favorite magazine, I skim the piece. Then I note the name of the artist and decide whether the genre is one I generally prefer. Then I go to iTunes or You Tube, depending, and listen.

I suppose my searching mechanisms are dated but, well, I have room for only a few bits of new knowledge at a time in my old brain. These methods work for me. I’ll listen, and for me to want to own it, there has to be something about the music—substance, quality of voice or instruments, hearability, danceability, and most importantly, an emotional connection. Yes, here I am writing about music myself, but I’ll leave out the adjectives. For me, music is eternally emotional.

Right now I am listening to—I often have music on as I work—the plaintive, dreamy sound-track song “Callin’ You”, cut from the delightful film Baghdad Cafe, a 1987 English-language movie by German director Percy Adlon. (And one of Jack Palance’s last roles). It’s dreamy, bluesy, an utterly poignant. It’s a little hard to categorize, but I’ll try. R&B slow blues, with hints of ambient.

Here are some catchy names for musical categories: shoe-gazer, emo (shows up way to often on crossword puzzles), Afrobeat, Noise, R & B, Roots Reggae, Cowpunk, Trap, Chill-out. I could go on forever and probably make up a few of my own.

Dream Rock. Bubble Jump. Salsa Sway. Twirl. Weep. Awe-Gob. That last one is supposed to describe musical arrangements that sweep me into stunned silence. Gregorian chants will do that every time.

The husband, a musician in his own right, get’s off on experimental music: Tuxedo Moon, Charles Ives, John Cage. Not my bag. I’m more the traditionalist. Our local classical music radio station cycles out the old favorites. Because of the recent Jupiter/Saturn conjunction, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard bits of Gustav Holst’s The Planets. A bright spot on this radio station’s dial is an eclectic program by Bill McGlaughlin. We’ve been listening to him on public radio for centuries, it seems. In his Exploring Music show, he finds starling links between compositions. In a recent program, he linked Bach with Ella Fitzgerald in a program called Dona Nobis Pacem—Grant Us Peace. That whole show was Awe-Gob. Also, it was broadcast on Yule (Winter Solstice) and wow, thinking about the pageant that Jupiter and Saturn put on for us that night, it hit all the right spots for feeling reverence and hope. (Although here in Oregon, the only time that the endless rain allowed us a view of the conjunction was two days later. Jupiter was a blazing light-hog while poor Saturn dimly wavered to his lower left.)

And apologies for the lame, punny title. Couldn’t resist.

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About Jill Zeller

Author of numerous novels and short stories, Jill Zeller is a Left Coast writer, 2nd generation Californian, retired registered nurse, and obsessed gardener. She lives in Oregon with her patient husband, 2 silly English mastiffs and 2 rescue cats—the silliest of all. Her works explore the boundaries of reality. Some may call it fantasy, but there are rarely swords and never elves. More to the point, she prefers to write as if myth, imagination and hallucination are as real as the chair she is sitting on as she writes this. Jill Zeller also writes under the pseudonym Hunter Morrison

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