My lovely new publisher, Jessica Kingsley, of Singing Dragon Press, was there to wish my book well on its way. She has just emailed me to tell me how surprised she was that there were so many people at the launch involved in some way with music, and wondered why I had not mentioned music once in all the blogs included in my new book. This in turn surprised me, because I had never realised that I had not written about music at all, and it made me think why this might be so.
I have come up with two reasons, one more profound than the other. The simpler reason is because my hearing has got progressively and unfortunately rather rapidly worse, so that I am now finding it increasingly difficult to listen to music both live in the concert hall and on the radio. I noticed this most acutely recently when I went to a concert in my beloved Wigmore Hall at which a Haydn quartet I know well from first to last note was being played, and I could not recognize it at all to start with, as though I were listening to some discordant music. Gradually my hearing, magnified by my hearing aids, attuned itself better to the music so that after a good few minutes I began to appreciate that what I was hearing were indeed familiar sounds. But, oh the sadness of being brought up so cruelly short by my body’s increasing frailty.
Interestingly, though, I can still play the piano, or occasionally now my cello, presumably for the same reasons that a totally deaf percussionist, Evelyn Glennie, can “hear” what she is playing because, as she says, she “taught herself to hear with parts of her body”. And also because I hear the piano’s tones and the cello’s vibrations much closer to my ears than in the concert hall or on the radio.
The deeper reason is that I can write about what I read, as I often do, because I am using my own words to describe the words of others, but I do not possess a language which can describe music. It has its own language of sound which I don’t have the understanding or knowledge to translate into words.
So these, Jessica, are two of the reasons why music is absent from my blogs, though so integral a part of my life since the days when as a young child I squatted on the floor listening to my grandmother and her quartet playing through the chamber music repertoire. Apart now, of course, from this blog.