It's 4.50am. I've had a surprisingly good sleep, the gentle rocking of the train an ideal soporific.
After essential early morning ablutions, I return to my upper bunk. Initially I pull out a book but discard it in favour of an mp3 player. Scanning the options I make a deliberate choice: the Rachmaninov 3 Concerto (famously the subject of the movie Shine).
I have listened to this piece perhaps fifty times but this morning I listen with new ears. An attempt to listen 'in the moment'. I close my eyes and let the music wash over me.
Initially I concentrate on each of the 'voices' - picking out individual instruments in the piece - piano (dominant), violin, clarinet and more. But sometimes if you analyse too deeply you lose the bigger picture? I try to expand my attention to take everything all at once. Slowly, a new understanding of the music reveals itself.
It starts with a sea of sound appearing (in my mind) like a vast ocean, not just in front of me but all around, as if I had super-peripheral vision. It is in glorious colour! The melody flows and harmony complements, repeated themes establishing themselves. Initially the movement is slow, expectant - I see wine red, bottle green and many more colours on the surface of this sound-sea.
As the music begins to evoke feelings, the sound-sea surface undulates and transforms. With increasing emotion I can see outline human figures begin to emerge in sinuous dancing forms, expressing emotion that words cannot describe.
A crescendo heralds the emergence of distinct faces and full body forms taking the identity of the strongest feelings. As the music races on, they speak out not in words but in their distinctive facial and bodily expressions - individually and in concert.
Finally words - and phrases - sing out to me, boldly declared. Not the words of the composition (there are none) but words expressing for me, in an intensely personal way, the message in the music. They resonate with the deepest expression of the piece revealing a personal interpretation of this powerful composition.
Lucid dreaming in action!
Check out the following for more in this area:
'Music, the brain and ecstasy' by Jourdain
"Musicophilia" by Oliver Sacks
See NYT review: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/20/books/20kaku.html
A superb talk by Benjamin Zander on TED.COM
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