Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

Music For Growing Up and Old

I put on a recording of Richard Goode playing Beethoven piano sonatas around 5:30pm. It has been on auto repeat ever since, through the cooking and eating of dinner, various computer-related tasks, and Skylar's post-prandial play. Whenever I listen to something over and over like that, I find myself periodically thinking about the sort of awareness that accompanies such repetition. For the most part, it remains in the background of my consciousness. Each go round, though, I find myself momentarily made aware of the music in a fuller sense. As I type this, for example, I'm paying closer attention than I was a half hour ago, though I am unable to write when I'm totally focused on the music. I wonder what the effects of this kind of aesthetic experience are. Is Skylar, sitting close to the right speaker, also letting the music slide back and forth between something taken for granted and a subject of scrutiny? Wait, I'll ask her. "I know it's there, in the background," she reports. "It's incorporated into what I'm playing, like the music in a movie. You know how there are different kinds of music for different scenes or stories?"

Presumably, it would be harder for her to incorporate Black Sabbath or the Elders of Zion into her play in this manner. But her capacity for concentration when she is completely focused on an activity are immense. So is mine, come to think of it, though I have spent far too much of my time in recent years mired in distractions. The other day, though, I spent three hours listening to the first Babyshambles album while sorting through sheaf after sheaf of papers, which suggests that I could get back into the groove with the right sort of push. I remember when Skylar was a baby, at home with me while her mother worked. Music was an important part of our environment. When I had a deadline, I would sometimes put on Stereolab or The Notwist for the better part of the day in order to lay a foundation for our respective activities. Maybe that's why she is so used to having music serve that function. I'm sure there are plenty of serious devotees of classical and popular music alike who would take issue with such instrumentalization. Adorno is assuredly tossing and turning in the afterlife. Nevertheless, I don't regret making her take the presence of music for granted. Someday that familiarity might even help her to conjure the illusion of home in a place where she is in danger of being overwhelmed by the absence of comfort and security.
Tags: autobiography, daughter, everyday, music
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