“Music and I”
24th November 2022
“Music and I”
Sometimes I feel like I don’t have any relationship with music. But later I realize that it can’t be true since I usually contact music before I contact anybody else.
People like to share and talk about music as if they own it. For me, choosing music for people is even worse than cooking for them. It already makes me ashamed when someone plays the music I know.
I haven’t found a very convincing explanation for why I read music as something so private as a naked body. Therefore I would never ask about the music that I like but can’t recognize.I would rather not confess that I am curious about the music other people listen to.
When I was a child I had a desire to play a musical instrument. I was obsessed with it to the extent that I saved all the contacts on my phone under the names of the instruments and I never knew who was calling me. But now when I don’t feel this at all, I barely remember the need.
When I lived in a dormitory, I used to wake up at 5 am to practice piano in the basement so nobody could hear me. Two days ago I shared this detail of my past with my roommate when we were on a subway together. We were going outside the city to do a cleaning job in the forest house. Usually, we don’t talk about anything else but housekeeping and survival inside Swedish society. That time she was listening to me carefully and I don’t know if it was because we were forced to sit opposite each other or because she also could find herself in my story.
It started with a group of Romani people who joined us at one of the stations. One guy was holding an accordion and she told me that once she made an attempt to play it but it was difficult and the instrument was very heavy. I responded with my experience of playing saxophone which was also heavy and disgusting when I had to clean the saliva after every practice.
She was curious why I didn’t go further with my music career and seemed to not really get it when I said that I had to spend a lot of time learning how to recognize the notes from hearing. Simply, I've never been really good at it. For her, as for my grandma, going to a music school was already enough to get a job in an orchestra. But in the end, only a few are determined enough to make it their way of living and sustaining themselves. For me, it was only a desire to stop for a moment into a very difficult but attractive world. Comparing this to entering the house, I feel like I never even took off my shoes in a vestibule.
Even so, I had one moment that was worth all the trouble and time I put into my relationship with the saxophone. The music school in my hometown is located very close to my grandma’s apartment. Usually, after classes, I used to visit and perform for her. Once when I came, my grandma’s sister was visiting. She never left her house in a village therefore she is never exposed to live music. Like always, my grandma made me play a small concert for them. It was Waltz no.2 by Dimitri Shostakovich. I remember being proud of myself because, in spite of a bigger and unexpected public, I did it well, without any mistakes. Maybe it was also because my grandma’s sister started crying as soon as I played the first line. I couldn’t look at her but knowing how touched she is, I tried my total best. Afterwards, I didn’t feel that I could ever get any further. It was probably even more than all I could wish to get from a tiny saxophonist career.
I was fifteen at that time and I quit saxophone for good a few months later. I moved out to Warsaw where I didn’t have the time or dedication to practice. It would be awkward as well since I lived in a dormitory with people from the best music school in the country. My roommate was the best young viola player. She was seventeen and didn’t have any regular high school classes during the week, only on weekends. On the working days, she practiced the instrument at least eight hours a day. For two years I was reading, studying, drawing, or brushing my teeth with the accompaniment of her viola. I loved knowing all the pieces she was working on and later going to her recitals, and among others looking at her standing on the stage.
Looking at her now, talking with her, entering her house, you would not say that she used to spend her life with music. We never talk about it. Some people ask me if she misses it, but I don’t know. Maybe I asked her a long time ago but now it doesn’t seem relevant anymore. Although those who remember her as my high-school time's friend, always remember her as a musician.
She stopped touching the instrument during her first year at the music academy. Now there is no way to come back. Around two weeks ago I was talking with our mutual friend who said once again that for him she is a perfect example of a person who just wasted their talent. But I don’t believe that she wasted it since the memory of her music still takes up much space in my heart. She only stopped sharing it, but those who heard her will remember and keep it inside.
When an artist dies at a young age, people say that it’s a waste, but when an artist lives long without a passion people only forget about them. I don’t believe that many people have a life-long capacity to be good and active artists, for some it’s just a moment. For me, it is a natural thing to stop sharing when nothing remains to share. Some people expect others to be an infinite treasure house, but in fact there are many others who can do it after you are done.
One thing I was always concerned about while observing my friend practicing, was the lack of any product she gets after her hard work. I was in an art school so if I dedicated this amount of time to my practice I would have so many works that I would have to rent a storage. I got used to living among a lot of things and materials. A musician doesn’t need it all. When I stop working or just die, there is a lot of everything that stays behind, but when my friend was done with her career, except for a few recordings and memories, nothing remained.
I started writing on a computer a few years ago like many people nowadays. When I used to write by hand on paper and I didn’t like what I wrote, I hardly ever threw it away. I was crossing out the sentences, hiding a page or a whole notebook in a closet. When I write on a keyboard I delete the parts I don’t like and they go nowhere. There is no computer writing session when I don’t stop for a moment to think about all those words that disappeared.
I like to feel the things in my hands. Music is always so close but impossible to hold. Maybe it builds a distance similar to the one from another human body.
I listened to all the albums on my Apple Music in alphabetical order. It took me the whole year from April to April. Later on, I deleted all of it.