Friday, July 18, 2008

Memorizing Beethoven

Liz and Juliet on their way to a summer concert.


Liz: You don’t use an iPod?

Juliet: No. I travel light.

Liz: So how do carry your music around with you?

Juliet: In my head. I memorize it.

Liz: You mean you hum?

Juliet: Not hum, I read the music in my head and I hear it in the back of my ears.

Liz: Sounds hard.

Juliet: Start with something simple. Like Beethoven’s Fifth. Da-da-da-DAH! Da-da-da-DAH!

Liz: I couldn’t get beyond ten bars.

Juliet: Why I suggest Beethoven’s Fifth is because it’s very visual. Imagine forests. Imagine storms.



Why Beethoven indeed! What better word-picture-painter than E.M.Forster to add images to help the make the music mean something.

“…the music started with a goblin walking quietly over the universe, from end to end. Others followed him. They were not aggressive creatures; it was that that made them so terrible to Helen. They merely observed in passing that there was no such thing as splendour or heroism in the world. After the interlude of elephants dancing, they returned and made the observation for the second time. Helen could not contradict them, for, once at all events, she had felt the same, and had seen the reliable walls of youth collapse. Panic and emptiness! Panic and emptiness! The goblins were right. Her brother raised his finger; it was the transitional passage on the drum…”

After you have memorized Beethoven, you can tackle pieces which are more, shall we say, abstract?


1 comment:

Ah Siew Ming said...

Help make the music MEAN something? Well it might mean something, I suppose, but it doesn't have to REPRESENT anything lah. It's music, not a painting. And if it were a painting it would be a Mondrian, not a Manet. When I was in elementary school the teacher played Khachaturian's Flight of the Bumble Bee (as I later leaerned it to be) and asked us what it sounded like. I think I said something like It reminds me of someone who has lost something important and is going crazy. To which he retorted No it doesn't. It sounds like a bee. From that day on I'd had it with music 'meaning' anything.