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Updated: Jun 4

Today after a short conversation with my composer-pianist friend Bruce, this strange idea came to me:

Do you think up there somewhere in the ether, there is a huge all-hearing Ear, that hears everything there is to be heard in the world and in all time?

Sometimes that all-hearing Ear connects with our ears, and we hear. Not just "listen," which we sort of do 'midst the clamor of ordinary life and chores, but really "hear."

I've done some reading on "deep listening" (check out Pauline Olveros who used to teach at our Bay Area Mills College), but I can't say I totally understand. I do observe, however, that over the past year-and-a-half since Bruce sent me to the YouTube performance of a renown pianist, and then asked me what I heard and how I liked her, I have begun to finally "hear."

Actually, on the above occasion and knowing close to nothing about music, pianos, or pianism, and well before The Duchess and I found each other or I even understood the meaning of "phrasing" or "diatonic scale," I instinctively knew what I heard--and it wasn't pretty. Yes, the performance was pretty technically -- more than pretty! Astounding, if my truth be told. But I remained untouched by the pianist, her performance, or sadly, the music. It was as if she side-tracked me from really hearing what she was playing. I went off into never-never land. To this day I cannot remember any of it, but only my feeling of being left lonely in the middle of a desert.

From time to time since then, I've read books in musicology and on listening and hearing, and thought about what kind of music or musical performance must there be for me to really "hear?" Then, too, Bruce keeps me on my musical toes by challenging me every now and then to listen to a singer or performance, and give my response. Usually I do that in some detail within the hour of receiving the piece, because today, my reaction comes easily to ear and mind.

Perhaps just more exposure to music helps us develop our ability to tell what we like, what reaches and touches us, what nuances we notice, and what engages our deepest love of music and our spirit? After all, I listen to at least one classical or Romantic composition on YouTube practically every single day and have done for almost two years.

Or, perhaps "hearing" is really a matter of individual taste, as I suspect? Bruce provided this apt reminder to me: "De gustibus non est disputandum."

But something tells me there is more than that.

There is something mystical about hearing, something eternal, something compelling, something deep and almost indescribable, and often for me, when the moment and music are "right," something happens that is incredibly exciting and also painful in it's excruciating beauty.

As John Mellencamp said, it makes me hurt so good inside. When that pain comes to me, usually within a few seconds of hearing the music, I know I am hearing. Can be music like Mellencamp's or Prince (check out "Kiss"--love those lyrics!) or do-wop music of any kind and I get up from my chair and I dance, because I cannot not do so. My spirit soars and I get sassy, and then...look out!

Or I hear someone like Horowitz or Gitlis, or Schubert's Serenade or Schumann's "Traumerie" and my spirit gets up from my chair and in my ecstatic pain, I dance, because I cannot not dance.

I know -- and I know, because I hear. # # #

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