The Synthetica Tangent
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I've been revisiting the idea that music is elemental in our memories. Perhaps it's because I'm still in some residual research mindset or because I've had an ever-present desire to figure it out, but can we tamper with this? Can we ensure a memory by playing a song on purpose, or vice versa, refuse to open a repository of new music when we're in a chapter of life that we wish would just hurry up and pass? I came across some astrological explanation of my pesky moodiness which said I'm "ruled by the moon, so learn the phases." Ummm, okay. This moony behavior makes for interesting writings, but I think I'll pick a birthday that is ruled by the sun next time the opportunity arises. The problem that usually happens for me is I'll have one of those Moody Blues days and all of a sudden the radio pipes in some song I've never heard before that seems to be singing to my soul and all I can do is sit there and absorb it.
During a recent team-bonding time, I confessed to a long-held appreciation of synthetica. As a child I'd play with the kids across the street who envisioned epic battles fit for Star Wars' screen shots. It's funny, but a quarter century later and little has changed aside from the incorporation of Matrix-like moves: my students run around performing "death-defying" acrobatics as they imagine elaborate battlefields complete with force fields and lasers to vanquish some shadowy foe. They're marvelous to watch when they're like this, so creative and....well, I'd like to say "quixotic" but even though the meaning is perfect, the sound doesn't seem to go with describing children on a playground :(
Anyway, as the sole girl in the mix, I received the brunt of critique in "style" as far as my battle strategies and *ahem* laser sounds were concerned. Apparently, lasers have a distinct sound that I couldn't quite capture so I'd say, "Chew!" which, it turns out, is not a laser sound. Don't try it, you'll just be ridiculed and run to find respite in your own yard like I did. And what did I do to repair my bruised ego? Well I sang my own special renditions of Tears for Fears and Aha, of course! Yep, that's right, I loved the synthesizer. For the record, I'd like to blame my father for that. I wasn't old enough to choose my own music and Dad had a penchant for the Casio keyboard. I'm sure Pandora would tell me it was something to do with "extensive vamping" but I don't care! I like what I like which happens to coincide with what I was subjected to. Man, all these digressions for a back-story to illustrate the memories that flood back whenever Shout graces the radio, complete with that anxious stomach feeling of the judged.
And back to the original question: Can we tamper with this music-memory? I was recently gifted with a large quantity of music which I have yet to open. I'm waiting. Much of it I have had, but there are bands on there that I'm sure I'll enjoy and I want to use in this experiment. I had tried before to couple a song with a traveling memory once, but failed. This was after I realized every time I heard Placebo's Every You, Every Me I was whisked back to an Italian neighborhood of Montreal eating raspberry gelato, writing in a journal that had paper like a playing card...weird. So when I was on tour the following summer in New York and wanted to recreate Chinatown, I played Sunday, Bloody Sunday on repeat at least a thousand times. Didn't work, though. I'd have to say the Hello Kitty chopsticks I purchased hold more of a memory than that song. So it must have something to do with novelty of the song and place.
I can't say for sure, but I think that's exactly why movies and shows have soundtracks. It's genius really: to continue the emotion of the movie well past the visual experience! You can relive the best parts of a movie without actually watching it; perhaps remembering it being much better because music has this way of refining emotion. Or is it because music is more like the physical raw emotion we experience in parallel to the images on the screen? That could explain why I enjoy Wes Anderson and Baz Luhrmann flicks so much, they like to toss obscure music in the mix. And if I had to make a guess, I'd suppose these fellas have a steady stream of music playing through their thoughts as they pull the scenes together. I like that. So the plan is this: plan a short jaunt someplace, open Pandora's box and see if I've missed my calling to psychological studies ;) Of course, this has a rather long timeline but it's not like time is something I'm in want of here.