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  • Writer's picturerhapsodydmb

WHAT IS MUSIC? (Part III: The Process and the Personal)

Such simple and profound words describing music and its meaning in his life, were said on the CBS morning news today (6.8.23) by cellist Yo Yo Ma, one of the most beloved musicians in the world. In the midst of nature in the Smoky Mountains when discussing his most recent efforts to bring his music and gifts to a wider range of audiences in natural settings, Ma said:

"Music is a lifelong search for tries to describe a world that is in flux. It is always bigger than itself."

"Are you a better cellist now?" the interviewer, Mark Strassman, asked. "I'm a better human being," Ma replied.

Ma is talking about what music does and what it means to him. I think he is not talking about the general "truth" or a universal "truth," but the truth as meaningful to him. If that personal truth draws us all closer to understanding the universal, that is a gift, and what Ma says is an important guide thereto.

I just had an email conversation with a significant musical friend, a conversation that failed in part due to a message being stuck in his outbox. It was a conversation wherein he only partly agreed with me about a personal preference for one composer and his compositions that most bring me to truth, and to the state of disappearing that happens to me when I truly "hear" music. I had hoped for more.

Not finding any agreement in his original incomplete reply to me waxing enthusiastic about this composer, I paused to think more deeply about what I really wished for him, when I had initially referred him to this lovely collection of adagios by Rachmaninoff, and came this poem to mind and heart.

It is what I truly wish for anyone who loves music!

What I Desire

One composes me above all others.*

I pause a moment, wandering off into

the seductive tendrils of his melodies,

having just then lived enough

in this place and time,

no forward movement needed

or expecting more,

no looking backward,

no need to regret.

Nothing exists but the deepest space,

the softest place and solace for all that is

and could have been.

I wish you had agreed with me--

but failing that, what I desire

is that you feel and disappear the way I do

into whatever music composes you.


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