Combine a balmy springtime breeze billowing the white sheers with a Valse (based on a theme by Bach) performed by the Bill Evans Trio and Orchestra, and you have an idyllic morning scene spirited by pleasant emotions evaporating through the atmosphere. Music captures me then transports me. Astonishingly when I am overcome by music the melody wafts within me and beacons happy memories. Music is the ultimate tranquillizer – instant sedation with no after effects other than a calmness.
It won’t surprise those who know me well that I have a routine surrounding the music I enjoy. Sunday morning for example I devote entirely to sacred music. My favourites are Handel, Bach and Beethoven. This spiritual theme is as intuitively echoed on CBC radio (both French and English). Primarily however I tap into the resources of Apple Music so that I may either broadcast it on a portable sound system, in a headphone or through the car radio. I especially like that Mr. Apple automatically shifts to similar streams of music without my having to search for it. The algorithm is at times too specific – bordering on tedious – but predominantly there is a welcome variation of selections.
The cocktail hour is naturally the purview of jazz. I found when reading Jane Austen while sipping a martini the passionate swirls of the piano seldom interrupted my purpose and ambition. Some music commands attention and self-absorption; jazz music on the other hand is but a breath away from wallpaper and the babbling of a television ad. Its background nature is not to be diminished; its absence would be disruptively apparent. It is no more obscure than a fluffy white cloud in a blue sky.
During the day there is a huge choice of what I call comic or cheerful music; that is, light music (not classical) that deliberately toys with sounds and promotes gaiety. I have noticed lately that popular radio stations are more often than previously playing Latin or Eastern world music much of which is notably sentimental.
When I am writing I appreciate the exactitude and repetition of composers such as Ludovico Einaudi and Alexis Ffrench. For a more romantic bent it’s Alain Lefèvre; or Kerry Muzzey if I’m feeling especially pensive. Their performances may seem to be an enormous leap from the classical renditions of the Baroque era but their themes are inescapable and often alluring.
Since I was ten years old I have played the piano. Though I made it to Grade VIII Toronto Conservatory, I did it by the time I was fourteen years old. This gush of enthusiasm, combined with my ability to play music by ear, was regrettably the downfall of my musical progress. I stopped taking lessons and reading music. Instead I spent my time playing the pieces I loved by ear. This naturally meant a limited extension of my current training. I have since sold the Steinway salon grand piano and exchanged it for a portable electronic Korg keyboard. While there is no competition between the piano and the keyboard, the keyboard enables the addition of sounds such as organ, harpsichord, choir and strings. The keyboard persists as a “go to” resource of percussion instrumentation and the cathartic expression that accompanies it.