Thursday, September 20, 2012

Toddler music theory

I totally get that no one clicks on videos in blog posts.  Who has time for that?  The purpose of a blog is to scan through the entry, take from it what you want to take from it, and move onto the next.  Therefore I rarely post videos and I especially don't post sacred a capella music.  But this one is different.

Thomas Tallis' If Ye Love Me encompassed my soul today.  I found myself singing it in my dreams last night, waiting for the alto line to play out until I could chime in with the light and floaty soprano "That he may bide with you forever".

Now, I'm not religious.  I wish I was.  But religion has ruined my spirituality with its constant guilt and pressure and beliefs which I can't stand behind.  However, sacred music has held my heart since I was a little girl.  The text to this song is simple:

If ye love me, keep my commandments, and I will pray the Father,
and he shall give you another comforter, that he may bide with you for ever, ev’n the spirit of truth.

Words: John 14: 15-17   /   Music: Thomas Tallis

The melody is simple, too. Yet it is one of the most beautiful songs I know.  I needed to hear this song today, the day after yet another scary doctor appointment, the day after feeling like my throat was closing in on me and I could no longer breathe.  My religious friends would say that God intervened.  That an angel or the son of God and the Holy Spirit and the Trinity came to me in my dreams when I was feeling low.  Whatever brought this song to me in my slumber, whether it be God or my subconscious,  I needed it.

Rewind to college.  We were a young choir of mostly freshman and sophomores led by one of the most incredible conductors and one of my dear friends.  Mark, our conductor, breathes through music.  If he were a fish he would live in an ocean of melody. What a ridiculous sentence, I'm leaving it in.  We learned this song and sang it on the church alter in San Fransisco where Mark's father was the preacher (pastor? minister?), the church where Mark sang every Sunday as a boy.

My friend Meg and I always laugh at the memory of learning this song.  She and I would sing such a piercing "and I will PRAYYYYYY..." to where it sounded like "preeeee" and Mark cringed several times until he stopped us and said something along the lines of who is massacring the word "pray"!?  We learned to be more floaty and graceful and still love the memory.

Fast forward to today in my kitchen.  I played this song for Dylan over and over again and sang for him and he would say, "'Gain?" and so we spent a good while singing (both) and reminiscing (me).  I discovered that I miss singing in professional choirs.  There was something about being within that group of music makers that cannot be explained.  Sometimes, under the right direction and with the right music, magic is made.

So I taught Dylan what inflection means.  How to swell within a line of music and when to know where to back off.  I taught him what this sign <     > means, a crescendo followed by a decrescendo--called a messa di voce--and he pretended he almost understood what I was trying to teach him.  Loud then soft, Dylan.  Yes, Mama.

I miss singing.  I miss going through T.S. Eliot poems and scribbling in the margin.  I miss taking photographs.  I miss blogging.

So today I made a pact with my favorite blog friend who has become one of my favorite IRL friends that we would both vow to start blogging again.  I spent the day taking pictures and playing outside with Dylan.  And we sat outside listening to Thomas Tallis as we played in the sandbox.

And I felt peace.