Thursday, April 13, 2006


Two nights ago, CBC Radio was playing a piece performed by Evelyn Glennie, a brilliant percussionist. The piece was on the marimba, and was infused with a disquieting whimsy that I don’t know how to describe. At the end, Andrea Ratuski, the host of the program, noted that Glennie was profoundly deaf. I was glad that I hadn’t tuned into this little tidbit of information until after listening to the music because Glennie is first and foremost a musician, who just happens to be deaf. She performs by feeling the vibrations of the music through her feet. I was so inspired that I picked up my violin and played in the dark, trying to rely on feel instead of my usual dependence on the visual and aural. In that midnight stillness, I sensed that I had found something in my fiddle of which I had previously been unaware. Playing well means more than hitting the right notes and bowing smoothly – it’s an instinctive knowledge of what the music feels like.

I’m reaching the end of my spring break, but have yet to continue my French course as I had planned. Instead, I have gone on a musical journey of sorts. So many things that I’ve encountered these past few days have been coincidentally related to music. At the library, I read an article on Eve Egoyan (Atom’s younger sister), who is a pianist. She remarks that through others’ music, she is able to get inside herself. I’ve also learned how to express myself through others’ music: Chopin’s nocturnes, Debussy’s “Arabesque,” and some of Beethoven’s sonatas have formed part of my internal landscape. Children find shelter in their parents, and in an imaginary world that they create for themselves, a mix of real experiences and fantasies borne out of innocence. As we grow up, we come up with ways to shelter ourselves. Music is what I turn to over and over again. People who know me well are fully aware of times when I’m upset, because that is when Scriabin is pounded out of my keyboard. In moments when I just need some peace and solitude, one of two Michael Nyman tunes will waft out from my room.

Those who question how a deaf person could play beautiful music have failed to understand music (and the musician) entirely. Music is a visceral knowledge and landscape - a "soulscape," and is so much more than sounds stringed together. It’s to be felt, not merely heard.

No comments:

Post a Comment