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Music, Pain and Redemption


Roan

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Welcome back to my stable! Sorry for the long gap, but this colt has been a bit wooly. This is my first entry since I have come out of hospital again, and I'm in that strange space where I want to write but dont know where to start, so today's entry is probably a bit wooly like me. It has a point, and is sort of related to where I've come from and what's been going on, and sort of not. Please forgive my rambling and check back for later and better entries, but for the moment here it is.

 

Music, Pain and Redemption

 

 

 

One of the things about being in hospital for a long time is that you get really really bored, particularly if like I was at the start you cant do much for yourself. With a lot of my brain and body not working right frustration kicks in pretty hard.

 

One of the things I have been lucky with over my life is music. I have had the opportunity to listen to a massive array of music from an early age, legacy of a mother who was a music teacher, and later on learned to play several instruments. Music has been a part of my life ever since, almost as natural as breathing, and it has also been a part of my emotional life. For some reason, I learned how to let a piece of music get inside me till I could almost feel it in my heart, and ride the waves of sound like a bird. Not something I could really share with my school mates, way too daggy and out there, but something that gave me solace when I needed it most. Unable to do much for myself and not wanting to get too far inside my own head when there was plenty to worry about, I have reconnected with music as a listener, and a lot of my time in hospital has been spent immersed in a whole range of musical worlds.

 

A piece that captured me when I first heard it was Gorecki's third symphony. When I first found it, I was 14 and my life was so bad I wanted to die. Probably not promising circumstances to be listening to a piece called the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. The work is something of an oddity, a contemporary symphonic work disappearing into obscurity when first composed in the late 70's, until a new recording released the year I was born 1992 suddenly and for no apparent reason became mainstream popular, selling over 1 million copies and becoming at the time the highest selling classical recording ever, well before Andre Rieu darkened the world.

 

The symphony sounds at first glance anything but the stuff popularity is made of. Comprising three movements, all of them slow and sombre, it explores the theme of motherhood and loss. Each movement is a reworking of a different polish folk melody with a solo soprano voice singing a song; the first and third movements' texts being laments of a mother for a lost son, the middle movement text is a farewell from a child to its mother, an inscription from the walls of Auschwitz not far from the composer's home.

 

I found the CD one day flipping through my mum's collection looking for something to try out, and it immediately took my soul, even before I knew anything about it. When I read its story, I guess it became even more a part of me.

 

At that time, everything in my life had crumbled. I had found that I had two mothers, but it seemed neither were happy with me as their son, a situation that time has not improved.

 

The first, who gave birth to me, but because of the circumstances wanted nothing to do with me, and I was put up for adoption immediately, without even a name. The one that was on my original birth certificate I found out was suggested by her mother, so at least I would have something. She came back into my life that year when I was 14 because of her own needs not through a desire to have anything to do with me, as I found to my cost, but her anger and bitterness had not abated and as the years have gone have hardened.

 

The second, who became my mum when I was 5 weeks old, but through a sense of obligation and her own unmet and unacknowledged needs wanted a son who would do her proud as she saw it, within the confines of her own standards. One who would be successful in everything, dutiful, but be just like the rest of my family in all ways, a clean slate to write her own lines upon. One who wasnt me as I found I could be, and definitiely not one who was into guys, even less one who would choose a guy as his life partner.

 

One had given me the gift of life, one gifts too numerous to list including the gift of music, but both had also given deep wounds that remain, and neither are a real part of my life at the moment though the door remains open.

 

In the midst of all that somehow listening to the third symphony made life better then and it still does now. When at my worst, I can listen to it and from the sadness and pain of the music comes a feeling of being uplifted, and lets me feel a sense of love enfolding and setting me free. Maybe I'm mad, maybe I lost myself tilting at windmills, but it works.

 

The most emotionally affecting part for me is the first movement. It begins with a long slow deeply moving canon, simple yet beautiful, building through the double basses, to the celli, violas and violins. Then, the canon halts, and in the middle, a solo voice appears, singing a 15th century lament in polish;

 

My son, my chosen and beloved

Share your wounds with your mother

And because, dear son, I have always carried you in my heart,

And always served you faithfully

Speak to your mother, to make her happy,

Although you are already leaving me, my cherished hope.

 

The voice comes through the orchestra with great beauty, then builds as the orchestra builds to a shattering moment on a high note on the final word, hope - then the canon returns at its highest, slowly unwinding until just the double basses remain.

 

The first time I heard it at that precise moment, hope, I lost myself and cried without meaning to , and without really understanding why as I did not understand the words. I still cry when I hear it, something about that moment makes the music, sad but strangely triumphant, and the words, take me over , filled with a sense of beauty amongst pain, triumph in adversity, and hope and certainty for love.

 

I had listened again this week and was still playing the music in my head, hesitantly as my memory isnt yet what it was, when I saw my mum enter my hospital room for the first time in ages, reluctantly it seemed, but steadily all the same. My boyfriend was by my side, but she came in anyway, after a whispered conversation with the nurse at the doorway.

 

She came up to my bed, and looked at me, then tried to speak but couldnt. Involuntarily, I think, she reached down to steady herself and clenched on to Daz's shoulder. Seeming to realise what she had done, she looked my boyfriend in the eye, and gave a quick smile that reached her eyes. "He looks stronger. That's good. I will leave you two to it." And then she walked out. A small step, maybe a tiny one, but that is sometimes all you need.

 

My son, my chosen and beloved

Share your wounds with your mother

 

So I still hope, and I still struggle. Fifteen years that piece went with maybe thousands hearing it, before it was ready to resonate with people when its time had come. I don't know if I will ever be able to be what either of my mothers need, but thats not what matters to me so much anymore. I still listen to Gorecki, and I still feel the swell of emotion, but now the hope means more. One day I think, one day before it is too late, they may come to feel that way for me as I am, with all my faults but also all my strengths, and know me as I am. Till then, hope and love, will remain biding their time.

 

 

Roan

 

 

If anyone is interested, I have included a youtube link to the first movement.

 

About 13:00 is where the middle voice section starts, and about 16:00 is where I start to lose it. By 16:30 Im gone.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDNfQ4ok8EY&feature=related

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Totally off topic.. But I'm sorry that 30 point loss tonight, maybe play the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs a few times :)

 

I'm glad that your mum is slowly coming around.. Maybe she's realised that you almost died and that she needs to repair your relationship before its too late, I'm sure she loves you in her own way :)

 

Let me know how your going

x Bee

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After my car accident the family grouped around us to begin with, then they trickled away quickly once they knew I'd live. Soon, it was just the hubby and me, both hurt, struggling on our own. People came out of the woodwork that we didn't know in our small apartment development, loaning me a wheelchair and a showerchair after a few weeks when I could finally bathe again, bringing us food... but the family and my close friends I thought I had to depend on stayed away. After my hubby went back to work, I spent every day alone until it was time for rehab or he got home from work. It took me a lot of time to find solace from the feelings of abandonment.

 

Our challenges aren't the ones you are facing, but I learned exactly who I could lean on. I learned I could stand again, even on my own if I had to, even if it was different from before. No matter what strides others make to you, you can do that to. So that when they finally do come around, you're the strong person you have always been inside on the outside too. That's when you say Here I Am and you know that they either accept it or don't, but you're still going to be standing there.

 

With your music in your head and heart.

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Isn't it interesting that with the Internet we found some strength to tell some of our innermost feeling to the world? A lot of my patience came from the type of music I was listening when I was a kid. The earliest memory of a piece of music I was very fond of was Beethoven's Opus 132. It's like almost two decades later I reacquainted with it through pure accident and learned its name and found its meaning. My reading library is very short, but the few books I read on my own (instead of school assignments) are all very influential in some way to my life, and I picked them almost out of random. So yeah, I mean, it's as if the Gorecki's symphony was waiting for you, to fill the missing link in your life (I found Opus 132 in a box also, though it's because my father is an impulsive buyer..., rather than musically inclined :D).

 

Though it's an interesting observation some of us do gain strength from sorrowful songs.

 

It's nice to hear your story. Not a lot of kids listen to classical music, and even less frequent is the one who is into neoclassical. If you ever talk to people about classical, most of them think about Mozart, Bach and such. And when you say Beethoven, they think Fur Elise or other scores that are almost like cultural cliches. So I can understand why you won't speak about your passion of a music that's not considered hip by popular culture definition.

 

Well, just a thing though, please do remember to mix sad songs with some cheerful songs. Sometimes I listen to alternative rocks but at the same time I listen to the more complex late Romantic era music. My exposure to neoclassical is limited to some soundtracks from SimCity 4 Rush Hour, which I think some of them are actually new age. But I do remember an interview with Will Wright (the creator of SimCity series) said SimCity series has driven itself into a corner. It has become too complex for its own good. So that's the message I want to convey here. Have a wide variety of experience (in anything) can open a new world.

 

I don't know why you were in the hospital in the first place, but I do hope you have recovered (physically and mentally). And very wonder of your boyfriend to be by your side all the time. :)

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You made me cry a bit Karl... My own mother wasn't there for my ordeal at all, though, so at least you have that on your side. Either way, they may have both given you life and supported your life, and fostered your dreams, but from here on out it's your partner's and your friend's job to keep you going, and I damn well hope I help. (As well as keep that gift of music happy :D )

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You sweet sweet human being... God bless you. Everything will turn as it's supposed be. Have faith and let your music guide you.

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