In the choir I attend we learn by listening, repetition and practise. Singing songs from all around the globe, from early church to modern pop. Always in the original language be it Latin or Russian. Until the sounds of these different languages are learned we do not have song sheets. Each part is given its harmony, tops, middles, tenors and base, by the choir leader. One at a time. So idle minutes do occur.
The leader of the choir has one section in thrall showing them how to crunch Bulgarian notes satisfactorily – the others? Some chatter to each other and the others? Well – what thoughts stir behind those middle distance stares? Do those thoughts include pork chops, deadlines, school reports, dinner party menus or concerns about how cool is retro really? Maybe grey cells freed by inaction take off into worlds of their own making.
Confronted by nonsensical sounds from foreign lands, do our brain cells make their own connections, rifling through memory banks until some sense is restored, so that the next time they get to sing does the imagination then run with boy racers speeding around Himalayan hairpin bends chasing illusory big cats? Or maybe another song will conjure up visions of traipsing over the veldt under hot skies clad in Wellington boots. Or maybe a new style coffee shop, machines thundering away as posh tea and frothy coffee are dispensed by blousy women. After all, words articulated are just sounds.
Rhythms now, they can galvanize brain cells just as wildly, no understanding of the words is needed when the lulling melodies of the South Pacific leave throats. Marlon Brando at his most beautiful, sand at its whitest and, of course, oneself with a figure probably left behind a couple of decades ago! Or maybe an urgent and rapid cacophony of notes can send adrenalin racing, tossing a silent movie star down dangerous rivers towards the perils of the rapids, or desperate sailors clinging to broken spars as surf tosses them over jagged rocks.
Some songs are paintings in the style of Millais and Michaelangelo – others in the form of woodcuts and engravings; some come in ornate oval frames – some as magnificent murals – or poems in the style of Blake.
Busy, busy minds making connections.
Or maybe one would just close the eyes and ‘hear’ a golden shaft of sun.
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