Seeing the Music

In an oft-quoted letter written by Martha Graham to Agnes de Mille she speaks of  “a vitality, a life source” that is unique to each of us.  Later in the letter she urges de Mille to “keep the channel open”.  That letter echoes in me everytime I think about life as a dance.  But how does one “keep the channel open”?  I think we have to learn how to hear the music, which, if Orr is correct, is everywhere.  So, I started thinking about different ways to be aware of the music.  The most obvious is to hear it.  But now, we’re talking about a much broader understanding of what the music is.  I’m more and more convinced that all sounds are available to be experienced from this perpsective.  It doesn’t take that much practice to get the knack of hearing all sounds as a kind of music.  What if we expand our channel to include the other senses?  For esample, how do we see the music that is everywhere?  Once the idea presents itself it’s really pretty easy.  Everywhere we turn our eyes – inner and outer – there is music to be seen.  As usual there are sights that we like better and worse because of our limited visual point of view.  But when we relax a bit and can stop naming everything we see and simply see it, then the music starts.  Or, more to the point, we start to make ourselves available to the music.  I can’t imagine listening to Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” without seeing New York; or, to “An American in Paris” without seeing Paris.  Movie soundtracks have been crossing this threshold for decades and we often hardly notice that our “seeing” and our “hearing” have begun a dance of their own.  And gathered us up in the process.  My wife and I kid about how she hates musicals because no one breaks into song in the middle of daily life.  Basically true, but what a shame.  Of course there is singing in the shower and in the car as long as we think no one is looking.  Taking that a step or two further what if we don’t wait for “official” music to show up?  What if we find, hear, see music everywhere we look?  Try it, you might be — I was about to write, pleasantly surprised, but what came out was, presently surprised.  I think both things are true.  Stop, look and listen.

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