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The Salieri Complex

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible…is music. – Aldous Huxley

Music is just so powerful.  I cannot explain it.  How can something so logical and perfectly understandable on paper be transformed into pure emotion and feeling once translated via an instrument?  I shake my head.

That scene.  The one from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”…the one where scientists go to India to record the phenomenon of people chanting and singing the same sequence of notes over and over again.

That scene gave me chills the first time I saw it when I was a kid.  It still does today.  It was just a few notes.  But it evoked a very strong feeling when sung in unison by hundreds of people.

That was a weird example to get at what I’m getting at.  I am tired.  It has not been a good day.  What can I say.

I am not a musician.  I never have been.  I wanted dearly to be able to play an instrument when I was young; the piano or guitar…something.  I learned to play the Recorder in grade school like most other kids at that time.  (Incidentally, I can still play the theme from Star Wars on it).  But I never did become proficient on any instrument.

To me, at that age, I think I wanted desperately to be able to express my feelings and emotions with clarity and beauty, and doing that through music seemed to me the most natural way to do it.

I couldn’t play an instrument to create music so I thought “I’ll be a singer”.  See, often theatre and singing go together.  I wrote songs and tried singing them.  Only, haaaaaa.  I can’t sing.  I suppose I can hold a warbly tune, but only when it is comedic value you’re looking for.

I cannot cry for you, Argentina, but I can probably make you split a gut.

I found other outlets for my burgeoning expressiveness instead; theatre, dancing and writing.  I was moderately successful at these things in that they temporarily fixed my “fix”; the desire to express myself.  These things were such a high for me, but with the highs come the lows.  And during the lows, there was music.

I was so disturbed after watching “Amadeus” for the first time and thought, “Oh boy.  I know I should identify with Mozart here as the protagonist, but I’m thinking it’s really Salieri.  I get him.”

The scene in which Salieri as a very, very old man is recounting his experiences with Mozart in a time long gone by, and Mozart’s unparalleled genius in creating music and the ethereal emotion it evoked, and how he – Salieri – only wanted a small piece of the divinity he believed Mozart possessed in serving as a conduit for such sounds.

Why, God?  Salieri begged to the Heavens…why have you given me this desire but not the ability to communicate it through music?  Why??

Salieri believed it to be a punishment from God himself that he possessed the pure desire to create musical masterpieces but could not, and that Mozart while seeming to care very little for his God-given talent, could.

Salieri felt imprisoned by this desire, wishing for it either to disappear, or, the ability to magically mutate it into musical glory.

He did not receive either wish.

I identified with him very strongly.

Music has defined my life in so many overpowering ways, as it does for many people.

Certain songs take us back to a specific moment in time, a place.  Sense memory through music has proven one million times  more potent to me than that of smell, touch or even sight.   I am not alone.

Haven’t most of us heard a song that puts us instantly back into the arms of a person we loved and lost or even won, to the point where we can truly feel them, smell them, touch them at a very specific point in time?  The examples are endless.

Music is time travel.

Music speaks more clearly, more resoundingly, more universally…than any other form of personal expression known to man.  I state this as fact, not as opinion.  I dare anyone to argue this point with me.

I cannot create music, but throughout most of my life and certainly throughout the last couple of years, I have depended on it heavily to help me express or fully realize what I am feeling or thinking during times of pain or contentment or confusion or joy.

My iPod is like my own personal, little therapist.

I guard my aloneness with swords and arrows and slingshots.  I do not need much of it, but I do need it.  I crave it.  I must have it so as to bring order to chaos.

And when I am alone and my world is out of focus, skewed, wrapped in gauze…I search for sounds.

I was just searching on my iPod for something by Prince, or Bowie, or Gabriel or who knows who.  Searching.  I’m not sure how I do feel or want to feel at the moment, so the search has been difficult.

Sometimes, music picks you.  Sometimes it helps pull you out of the haze, or at least keeps you comfortable while you are in it.  And once you can get past the envy that you could never write something so simple and yet so transcendently beautiful, the fog lifts if only for a little while.

I wish I had a permanent soundtrack following me around; subtle and yet enhancing the backdrop of my life, keeping me company and alerting those around me to my moods and where my heart and head are at.  It would be so helpful.  No explanations needed.  You’d hear the music and just know.

And no one would have to talk to you in order to say “Jeez, she’s such a bitch today.” or “She is super happy!” or “Oh my God she is so SAD.” or “Nice attitude on her.  Whatevs.”  Because you would hear it a mile away.  No need for words.  It would prevent a lot of potentially uncomfortable encounters.

Perhaps Apple will invent one of those personal soundtrack devices some day.  For now, I will have to be content with ear buds and a soundtrack only I can hear.

Sometimes the music just picks you.  It is definitely not Prince, and it’s not Mozart.  But there it is.  I am suppressing my inner Salieri.

Surrendering to my inability to create something so simple and beautiful, while allowing it to take me mercifully to a place without gauze.

Billy Joel knows what I’m talking about.

Put on “repeat”.  Sleep……………………….


About Lilabell

I am the 44 year old mother of three boys, ages 7, 5 and 4. Help. No, seriously, help. I love to write and read what other people write.

4 responses »

  1. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    This is great – wonderful! Enhanced by the video, of course.

    I love the mental image you gave me of a sound track following you around – hee hee :) I can totally picture that.

  2. You’re killing me, Smalls. You need to write more often!


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