Music always pushes me to keep writing, whether it’s in the form of background music that I use to create a writing atmosphere, or experiencing a concert performance that spurs me to capture every moment into words. Despite my long history with the art, I have always considered myself to be incapable of describing and putting music into words. Long have I always wanted to write stories pertaining to music, like one particular plot idea that I’ve had in my head since university; a piano prodigy falls in and out of love with the same girl throughout the course of his life, and fate somehow brings them back together throughout the course of their lives through Fantasie Impromptu, a piano composition written by Frederic Chopin. Back then, having a particular story about love that I wanted to put into words, I tried to marry the literary genre with which I was most comfortable writing with that of music, but I could never really accurately describe the melody of a piano when Fantasie played, and distinguish how it sounds from another piece, like Revolutionary Étude.
Writing about music eluded me, and it was completely the fault of my own. Several other writers, whether they be music critics or novelists themselves, who have proven capable of describing music with words, have been a considerable reading outlet for myself over the course of my hobby, but I always thought that my understanding of what they wrote was based on my own knowledge of the music being described. Because I already know what a song sounds like in regards to its melody and timbre, it’s a bit easier to imagine in my head, and how it could be translated into literary visual. It’s a bit strange to concede to the notion that music is much more easily communicated when presented with a visual accompaniment. I admire that Yoko Kanno’s concert at Otakon 2013, Piano Me, played off of this concession in order to reach a wider audience. It was an amazing performance to take in with all senses; I can still smell the windex wafting from the nearby washroom while I stood, waiting in line for the concert hours before.
I’ve written about this experience in the past, and reading that post again, as well as the tiny white moleskine covered with Piano Me stickers where I kept my notes of that concert, I feel like I’ve come a long way since the day I wrote about it, but not so much in regards to my writing. Writing is something that I’ll always do in some capacity, but in regards to how I’ve come to terms with that experience and how my memory of the event has served me. I wrote all of it immediately as soon as I came home from Baltimore, and there’s a bit of me that wishes that my memory of the event is the same now as it was back then. Unfortunately, time whittles away even the sharpest of minds, which is why I resolve myself to write down as much as I can the experiences that I want to keep with me. Words are forever, and even when the memories are gone, I can still go back to what I wrote before and be brought back instantly, not to the place itself, but rather my own feelings and emotions surrounding what had happened.
Because of this, I worry about my ability to write about and describe music the way I remember it in my head. I can recall sounds (music, in particular) better than any other sensation, which is probably the reason why I never really “needed” to learn how to describe music; however, sharing such experiences with others is a different thing, and I worry about that point in the future when even my recollection of sounds begins to erode. What will my writings tell me then? I’m a bit scared of it, but all I can do is try. Which is why I will try to write down what I can remember hearing from Otakon and Piano Me.
I remember the woman in front of me in line with the Piano Me T-Shirt, and her low, yet soft voice. I remember the slight tremble in her voice when talking about Yoko, because she loved and idolized her, and felt this was her only opportunity to see her live.
I remember the sound of fingers tapping on an iPad screen, belonging to a Japanese tourist who flew all the way to America to see the concert, and how he wanted to take pictures of everyone so that he could have his own memories of Yoko. His camera flash didn’t make much of a sound, as it was drowned out by the suddenly growing mumblings of an excited crowd ready to listen to anime’s finest musician and composer.
I remember the high-pitched whir of the dyson hand dryer from a convention centre washroom, used by a man with a thick middle-eastern accent, pointing out how interesting the dryer was, and how excited he was to listen to Yoko despite being in a foreign land.
I remember the song Gravity, and the sullen, yet hopeful tone of an audience-turned choir, and their perfect unison in singing its English lyrics. I remember the slow pulse of piano chords pouring out into the crowd, fuelling its hopeful chant. “Am I going home?” The crowd longingly sings out, wailing out into the auditorium, knowing somewhere deep inside that their memories may fade like the mist, like that in the lyrics.
I remember that something is pulling me, and I feel the gravity of song. I must write it.