La science de la musique

Victor Hugo said that " Music expresses that which cannot be put into words, and cannot remain silent"
Are you familiar with that feeling of music transporting you to a place that is so chaste, guiltless and completely divine, it is alike with getting high? Have you ever been to a rock concert, or a witnessed a remarkable performance of Beethoven’s  Eroica, and been swept along in the immense and intense movement, taken to what can only be described as another dimension?

I read, that in his last days, Ingmar Bergman listened to music, describing the experience as a gateway to other realities, different from those realities we can perceive immediately from our habitual senses.
The poet John Ashbery said that music was the perfect art, because it conducted an argument whose terms were never defined; it did not, in other words, depend on the banalities of the ordinary world.
 “All art,” wrote Walter Pater, “constantly aspires towards the condition of music.”
In Paris there is music far and wide. It is an invariable catharsis one cannot flee (especially should one, like myself, basically live next door to a recording studio). At all times of day and night, I feel the beats and rhythms working their way into the beats and rhythms of my soul, to work out knots, or trigger blasts that have been abiding in wait.
I am a typical escapist. Over the years I developed a strategy for being able to express feelings I found I could not express through want or ability. Generally I am incredibly gregarious. In fact, I am often too honest and open when I shouldn’t be, so when I cannot find the words, I literally choke. My strategy has always been to lock myself in a room and (either write or) play my piano until the blockage cleared. I am lucky that through teaching piano, often I have gotten to see others work through their blockages too, with tears and laughter pattering over the keys.
I have witnessed music bringing the strongest of people to their knees, and also to recovery. Consider the effect of music festivals, Woodstock to Glastonbury, and the grand traditions that they illuminate. It is a fundamental fact that music has cavernous and significant effects on the human psyche.

Music I feel is the most intimate of art, and coming from a person who has had a long standing and serious relationship with the written word, I do not say this lightly! With music one can become lost in oneself. It is a journey of self discovery.
The effect of music is scientific and spiritual. The two for me, always coming hand in hand. Goosebumps rise on ones skin and that is the indication that the music about to ensue will be transcendental, and the memory of it lasting.
Think of the best day / night / month / year of your life... think of people or places you have loved or still love...  is there a song that takes you straight back there, just as if you are actually there, smells, emotions, visions fully intact?
Have you noticed how people bond from even school age through the shared love of a song, or a band? Is it possible that each of us steps to the music we hear in life, and therefore when we find ourselves at an impasse, have stepped into the beat of a song we do not know?
There are many studies being conducted into the effect of music by psychologists and scientists alike; Studies about teaching oneself perfect pitch, and the effects of music on babies in utero.
As a pianist I turned to teaching initially because of complete inability to overcome stage fright and laterally because of my inability to put in the hours needed to become good enough (an issue I intend to rectify sooner rather than later). ‘The Inner Game of Music’ did not loosen my paralysis much but luckily, I found I was not only good at teaching, but I thrived doing it. I also found myself saying to students of all ages, that their ability to be ‘good’ at playing the piano (a concern of each and every one, even 6 year olds) had little to do with innate talent, but instead, was about hard work, and most importantly PASSION. A lesson reiterated to me over and over through the years.
If one considers the greatest musicians and composers of all time I guarantee you that they lived and breathed their work. Some, through obsession, even destructed in the course of it. But none the less, they were great and will be known as great, into infinity.
So often music allows us to escape into past memories. It can make us homesick. It can make us fall in love. It can allow us to long and grieve for things we never had and never will in the security of knowing the feeling will soon pass and remain private. It can give us momentum and strength through its structure and familiarity when we feel as though our foundations are cracking. It allows ones inner artist and romantic to fly unbound and imagine into the great abyss.
Music is a gift. And so many people, worshiped for their gift of making and expressing music to the benefit of our lives and unravelling of complex emotions for ourselves and generations to come, have graced the exquisite streets of Paris with the rhythm of their compositions. Many of them now lay in the ground, in cemeteries such as Montparnasse and Peire Lachaise,  still dreaming under the surface and knocking the music against the roads that we daily tread.

"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music." Rachmaninov
There have also been some interesting theories about music being a form of evolution in terms of sexual selection and how male musician is essentially asserting his reproductive fitness. Whether it be in music, art or literature... with bad boy habits, peter pan syndrome and addictions as ensemble... such a man is still irresistible. Both Mozart and Beethoven have been described as the sons of God, and it is true... I fell in love with them long long ago.
Music is it seems an innate and ancient art form. Singing bowls were traditionally made throughout Aisa and are a most ancient form of instrument, signifying the enjoyment, use and compilation of music, bowls being found dating back to 10th century BC. They have been used for hundreds of years as signals to begin and end ritual, as calls to worship, and energetic cleansing, sound healing and trance induction. They make a unique sound, because they are multi-phonic instruments, producing multiple harmonic overtones at the same time. From experience, I understand how powerful these instruments are in inducing transcendental states.

In Paris there is music everywhere to ensure an exhilarating ride!

Phillip Glass, once considered moderately insane for producing and performing his form of minimalist music usually to small crowds and in small rooms and high, studied in Paris for a time and has become one of the most experimental and brilliant modern composers of my generation. Erik Satie lived and composed in Paris, as did Chopin who is now buried and remembered at the Peire Lachaise cemetery alongside Jim Morrisson and Edif Piaf.

(The Opera House)
The great Jazz musician Keith Jarret is well known in Paris and there are many places in which to watch bands and performers that will be memorable and legendary in the story of your life...
Caveau de la Huchette is a famous Jazz club and one of the first I visited upon arriving in Paris because of its close proximity to Shakespeare and Company (also a friend of a friend was playing a gig). Popular with an older but dedicated crowd, it is worth a visit. Be aware of Jazz clubs however, they tend to charge a big admission fee and drinks can be expensive. It is much the same story with the Cabaret clubs, so choose wisely!
The Salle Pleyel is one of the main music venues in Paris, programming the likes of Keith Jarret, Philip Glass and Patti Smith. This January Philip and Patti played a ‘homage’ to Ginsberg there... I missed it due to complete lack of funds but nevertheless, I attended in spirit.

(images from google)
The De Paris Bercy is a large venue in Paris and has a capacity for 17,000 guests, the ‘Bercy’ was completed in 1983 to help revive the less-cosmopolitan eastern half of Paris. The plan worked and the site now thrives, bringing world-class talent through its doors each year.

Le Bataclan theatre opened in the mid-19th century as a café and vaudeville theatre. In the 1930s, it played host to the then unknown singer (can you imagine?!) Edith Piaf. Today you're more likely to see heavy rock and metal bands, and the technology employed within these walls is cutting edge, ensuring unrivalled sound quality.

Fleche D'Or is one of my favourites as it reminds me kindly of my teenage days in Glasgow, and sneaking in underage to see the newest bands playing at King Tuts Wah Wah Hut.

And up there as joint number one is Le Bus situated in Pigalle and similar to the Fleche D’Or, is great for bands. But the music overhead is slightly more circa 1999, so be prepared to feel ten years younger!

L'International is a popular, informal music bar putting on free concerts of up-and-coming indie bands every night, while the scruffy chic bar L'Alimentation Générale programmes all sorts of rock, jazz, DJs, often free, on its tiny stage.

Point Ephémère is an old waterside warehouse converted into a streetwise bar, restaurant, art gallery, live music and performance space, with terrace just by the Stalingrad locks. It is also right in my neighbourhood and very popular with a young (sometimes teenage) crowd.
La Scene Bastille is supposed to be great too.
And Bizz’art/Opus Cafe is an intimate soul funk ethnic jazz music by the canal St Martin, not far along from Point Ephémère.
A word of warning... beware of the bathrooms! All public toilet facilities in Paris tend to be fairly unsanitary and only semi private for that matter... so just... beware. And take handy wipes!
And fear not, if you have no money (like me!) then I implore you to simply walk the streets, visit the parks during spring and summer, stroll by the river, ride the metro, hang outside the Louvre and catch the rehearsals and free concerts that will meet you on just about every corner, ranging from Classical to Gypsy Jazz played on tambourines.

Music is a universal language.
Music is the art of tears, memory and dreams.
‘Music is a moral law. It gives flight to imagination and charm and gaiety to everything.’ Plato
There is a reason a synonym for peace, is Harmony.
Where words fail, music speaks. It brings people together into the heart of the same experiences and emotions.


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