21 September 2010

Music as Magic - Part 2

Scattered wasteland surrounding me,
Tattered memories of what used to be,
Apocalyptic mind debris,
Until we meet again.

Traveling through both space and time,
Out of body, out of mind,
Out of control,
My wheels in constant motion.

~ From “Constant Motion” by Dream Theater

I was listening to my favorite DT album earlier today while studying, and the above lyrics from one of their songs particularly resonated with me. I’m obsessive about my music, and when I first discovered this band, I was so struck by the sheer musicality of it all that I listened to that first CD I had for three straight months on repeat in my car. Needless to say my brother, who had the joy of me as his chauffeur before I went off to college, grew pretty sick of it. I have since collected every album they’ve ever released, except for the very first. One of my friends tells me it wasn’t that good, or at least nothing like the rest of their music once they accepted their progressive calling. It’s not a big deal. If they come out with any more, however, I’ll be sure to snatch up the latest.

Now that we have established a little background on the extent to which I adore this band, it should come as no surprise that I listen to one of their many songs at least once a day. Today, I chose to listen to Systematic Chaos from beginning to end, but just got stuck on “Constant Motion,” and I think I may have finally figured out why. Bear with me. I’ll circle around to this point again later.

Earlier this month, I expressed the desire to explore an idea that had occurred to me about a link between music and magic. Today, I’d like to look at another way in which the two are related.

I get a lot of songs stuck in my head. Having not lived in a box, I’d say having a song in your head is a pretty normal phenomenon. What may not be normal, however, is the extent that it happens to me. I walk around with practically a personal soundtrack playing in my mental background. I could be in a room of dead silence, but I’ll be thinking music. When I’m running or hiking, my mind might as well be an iPod (when I have the choice, I do prefer to run with a real iPod playing; however, we can’t run on post or in uniform with music, so my running + iPod time is limited to when I’m elsewhere and get to make use of actually comfortable workout garb). Nevertheless, while I can control the songs I’m playing in my head when I really focus on it, sometimes a random tune will pop in there and I have no idea where it came from, let alone all the words, so it’s like the chorus is stuck on repeat until I can finally shake it. Maybe someone was humming it down the hallway and I just caught enough of the melody to replay the rest, but wasn’t consciously aware of the process. Maybe it was playing in the background of a phone conversation. The origins of the stuck-song are not important; what’s important is the song’s impact.

The song in my head can influence my entire day. It subtly alters the cadence of my steps, so that I’m walking in beat to the tempo. I imagine everyone else listening to my same soundtrack, walking in cadence with my song. Sometimes I even feel like my heart itself takes up the rhythm. The tone of the song colors my mood: an angry song pumps me up and makes me want to run, a sad song mellows me out, a love song makes me lonely. The lyrics enter my vocabulary, so that while my words are my own, their inspiration is rooted in the song’s theme. I hum the melody under my breath, and passersby likely pick up just enough to get it stuck in their heads, too. If at any time I enter a hallway and I’m alone, I’ve even been known to dance to the tune. Don’t laugh. You’ve done it. I become a radio; the wind, just static in my speakers.

“Constant Motion” spoke to me today in a way that yesterday, Placebo’s “Every Me Every You” spoke to me. The day before that, it was Kyo’s “Dernière Danse.” It was the song for today, because today, that song was reflective of--and reflected in--my life. It swayed my steps and influenced my thinking. It breathed through me, and every thought was set with that song in the backdrop, and it happened for a reason. All things happen for a reason. I needed the energy, the anger, the confusion of that song to be my strength amid my own anger and confusion. There is simply so much going on that I know I’m out of control. My life is in constant motion, and it won’t stop. Cue Newton’s First Law.

Magic isn’t just about casting spells or chanting; it’s the way you live. Music is magic, and life is a symphony. So SING it.

PS: GLEE returns today :) I’m more than just a little excited.

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