Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The darkness of memory

I was thinking about a couple of incidents from the recent past, specifically a 2013 trip to the International Music Camp and rehearsals with a band I no longer belong to.  What I found odd, and blog-worthy, was that the lighting in both mental scenes seemed wrong.  It was dark, as if painted over with shadow.

This isn't to say that these experiences were unremittingly bad; they were not, and in fact I remember some truly awe-inspiring moments such as the Intermediate Band's performance on the last night of band camp.  What I do remember, though, is emotional tension -- unease, weariness, perhaps even a touch of fear.  Visualizing them again, I feel a subtle heaviness in the chest.

I was conflicted, happy and unhappy at the same time.  I wanted to play the music, but at the same time I was exhausted, aching all over, and just wanted to go home and curl up in bed with a whole pile of purring cats.

Another odd thing about these "dark" memories is that they're like islands.  They seem to be cut off from what I see as the real world, almost nightmarish in their separation.  There's a sense of being trapped in the scenes, unable to just walk away.

But then there are the memories that are polar opposites, the memories of light and lightness.  I remember at the Pinawa Band Festival in 2011 actually starting to cry in the closing bars of a Lord of the Rings medley.  The realization that I was actually performing with a real, live band was a dream come true, in the highest sense of the phrase.  I remember Kurt Elling singing "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" at the Winnipeg Jazz Festival, and I was completely blown away.  The auditorium was dark but the memory shines.  Joe Satriani at the Centennial Concert Hall in July 1990, playing the opening chords of "Flying in a Blue Dream" -- again, musical light piercing the darkness of the room.

What I find fascinating about this is this darkness/light effect seems to be exclusively in musical settings.  It's almost as if the rest of My memories don't count because they don't come with a soundtrack.  This may be because I have a "phonographic" memory, with the ability to instantly recall a piece of music at will once it makes it to long-term storage.  (And yes, I am definitely the person you want on your Name That Tune team.)

Going forward, to swipe a line that may or may not have been the last words of Goethe, "Mehr licht!"