Music and Nature MAG

By Alexandra R., Centreville, MI

     Transcendentalists found solace in nature, using it as a way to discover enlightenment within themselves. They used forests, ponds, lakes and streams for inspiration; I used my backyard. I listened and reflected, then put my realizations and reflections to musical selections I've heard.

In my backyard, between 8:31 p.m. and 9:56 p.m. I do my reflections. The yard is large and private, surrounded by pine trees, and it is very dark and quiet. The first thing I notice when lying in my yard is the sky - spacious and magnificently black. The stars shine like dim candles lighting a bountiful and unending darkness. I feel its beauty and the overwhelming sense of how little I am in the grand scheme of things.

I feel a certain awe when looking up at the endlessness and realize that I have my own unique place within it; an Enya CD, "Watermark," evokes that same feeling. The softness of the tone and the sensuality of the piano and vocalists extenuate that feeling. At the same time, though, I am scared. The world is large but not in comparison with the never-ending blackness of the night sky; how can I make my life different from those around me so it is not forgotten in all this endlessness? Thus I think of Enya's "Cursum Perficio," which with its dark tone and sense of foreboding, of being overwhelmed and of having no time, represents that feeling. If both played together, the song would represent my feelings about that night sky.

I feel the wetness of the grass and the smell of the earth too, with the coolness of the grass as the aroma of earth surrounds me. A cool breeze begins to blow and rustle last year's leaves and wake the boughs of the trees. In "The Last Emperor" soundtrack, David Byrne uses percussion and traditional Chinese instruments that remind me of the earth; the sound is natural with its somber and slow tone. "Adiemus" by Adiemus is the musical interpretation of the wind since it contains different tempos. The single vocalist represents the wind through the trees that stand alone, while the singers represent the leaves, floating through the air in groups, rising and falling with the wind.

The songs of the frogs and crickets in the nearby marsh mix with the scant songs of the early-arriving nocturnal birds, filling the night with sounds. Their songs bring the promise of brighter days and warmer nights as they grow louder. The rustling of the bushes nearby indicate the movements of the neighborhood cats beginning their nightly hunt.

"Orinoco Flow," recorded by Enya, is the best song to accompany these observations. There are many voices, like the frogs, crickets, birds and cats. The voices grow quiet when something unknown approaches, only to grow louder when it passes. The sounds of the night can cause you to drift into their rhythm of a carefree nature and serenity.

A few gray clouds begin to gather and cover the stars. They slowly sweep over the sky in patches, growing into masses of gray and black.

"The Promise" by Michael Nyman represents these clouds. The tone is not sad but one of expectation; the instruments gather slowly into the harmony. The woodwinds gradually join the piano and continue, bringing the expectation to a slightly happier place like the joining clouds.

Light rain begins to fall; the songs of the night grow louder as if beckoning. The birds sing louder over the rising of the breeze that brings life to the leaves and trees. The frogs and crickets chirp louder despite the efforts of the hunting cat. The stars shine through the grayness of the clouds while the sweet smell of the wet earth fills the air. The rain brings new life to the night. "Storms in Africa," another song by Enya, is like this gathering of the night. The song of the instruments represents the rain and different tones of the voices growing louder in its coming.

I feel that "My Wife with Champagne Shoulders" by Mark Isham represents my conclusion best. I am really in awe of the beauty around me and how I have never chosen to treasure it. There is all this life around me; nature has always been there for me to see. I have just really never taken the time to look; I was spoiled when it came to that because it had always been there. "My Wife with Champagne Shoulders" begins with a type of normalcy with the tone of the music, then there is a pause like a realization, then a guitar joins the music as it grows, giving it a feeling of even more romanticism, like my growing love for the nature around me, that is forever continuing.

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i love this so much!


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