Expressing the Silence

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.
-- Victor Hugo, French dramatist, novelist, & poet (1802 - 1885)

Last evening was a rather tough one for me. Without going to much boring detail, I have been dealing with a friendship that is slowly dissolving. It is very hard on me as I have a lot of affection for this friend. I had to decide if it was worth it to continue pouring my energy into this friendship when I have felt this person's reciprocation diminish for almost a year now. Last night I reluctantly decided it was not.

I was at a real loss as to what to do to keep myself busy. As you might have guessed, I picked up my guitar and started strumming to a chord progression my teacher had taught me Tuesday night. The progression is E, B, A, B, E x2 then B, A, B, A, B, A, E. Now, A and B are a different voicing. Take the E shape and slide it up so you have 099800 for B and 077600 for A. Since it is an open chord, it provides a nice drone on the low E and the high B and E strings.

From the very first strum I was shocked at how angry my guitar sounded. Rage just kept pouring out of it. I kept the strumming on the treble side for the A and B, smacking that low E when I returned to the E chord. The droning treble rang in my ears filling every space with a hot white sear. Yet the subtle chord changes between A and B moved like a dove, bringing some measure of peace to my heart. I played with the strum posted yesterday. I must have played that progression over and over for a good twenty minutes.

And then it was time to stop.

I put my guitar away and felt a hungry emptiness. My anger was gone, my hurt assuaged. I was hollowed out, but the nothing felt better than the anger that had been there-anger I didn't realize I had nor how deep I felt it. That is perhaps the single most magical part of making music for me. Whether I play for myself or for other people, I find my most basic emotions singing in the music--feelings I may not even be aware of. It can restore, it can heal.

I set my guitar case beside the piano and climbed into bed with my wife. Her first question was "are you ok? That sounded angry and sad at the same time." I talked with her about my friend for awhile, a conversation that was an equal to the playing in restoration.

*edited 6/19/08 11:30 PM EDT


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