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I Don’t Understand Music

You don’t understand music; you hear it. So hear me with your whole body. ~Clarice Lispector

I enjoy multi-varied musical genres from the silky, sultry tones of Old Jazz as sung by the tormented Lady Day to the hardcore thrash of the deeply troubled Dead Kennedys. I get lost in the guitar licks of Neil Young, the urban rhyming of Tupac describing urban struggle, the blending of sounds as captured Beethoven’s glorious 9th, and more genres than I can or care to name. As much as I enjoy the music, I can’t make the claim to understand it.

I don’t understand because I am not a student of music, am unable to slice and dice it into constituent parts, don’t have the capacity to dissect a song from a thousand different angles including, but not limited to meter and beat and syncopations. One does not need to approach music from an academics chair to become lost in a song. Dwelling in a song comes from feeling it in the bones and muscles and connective tissues and the synapses firing in time to the beat. Music is an experience. Understanding is not a prerequisite enjoyment.

My wife, too, is an experience. She is an experience I perceive in my soul similar to the way music crawls its way into my bones. There are nuances to her being I believe I understand, if not understand then have grown the ability to swim with her currents allowing us to exist in a state of comfort and equilibrium.

But to say I understand her would be an incorrect statement. It is more accurate to say, I feel her, feel her rhythmic pulse, hear the lyric of her life, dance to the cadence of her breathing, breath in the essence of her thinking. Mostly she is an experience I feel in the deepest depths of my soul.

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