Music, memories and other stuff beginning with M

In the absence of any productivity in my writing (I have a long list of pre-prepared distractions. I am proud of their efficacy) I thought I’d go back to one of my true loves…music. And, in particular, the ability of the humble choon to stir long-dead memories. It is a fact.  Probably – see previous posts on my hatred of research.

First up I will have to announce my chequered past. I play(ed) the violin, and as such it is my first love when it comes to music. The majority of my bittersweet memories of youth come from music played in orchestras. I loved that, absolutely loved being part of an orchestra. I also played in a rock band, mainly with my rock-steady and impossibly hardy Yamaha electric violin and once or twice with an electric guitar.

There is a point to this post, I promise.

Recently (the last fifteen years or so – I have a determinedly loose definition of the word ‘recent’) I have gone off ‘regular’ music. This coincided with my rock band years. I can say with absolute certainty that I have not listened to Radio 1 since Mark and Lard rocked my world in 1997. Such is my disdain of all modern music I now have a rapidly increasing iTunes collection of classical music. Even in this my tastes are quite specific.

I used to love stuff like Tchaikovsky and Sibelius, Dvorak and that ilk (romantic period, I suppose) and I was pretty much guided by the music I played as a callow youth. But as I have aged I have become less enamoured of that genre and more focussed on the more modern period.

This is mirrored by by rock music tastes. I was a massive fan of the Stone Roses, Charlatans, Blur and all those bands. A proper nerd for them, I was, but now I can’t really listen to them with feeling bloody sad that the feelings of positivity they garnered in me no longer exist. Of gigs, partying, great lifelong friends and youthful high jinx. Likewise if I listen to Dvorak’s sixth all I remember is the beautiful smile of a percussionist I fancied from my County Orchestra days, or Catherine X (who I idolised for all of about four formative years).

So I have had to change my music listening habits to avoid those old memories. One does not like to dwell.

Hence my current tastes. Arnold Bax, Bruckner, Vaughan-Williams, Mahler, Nielsen, Walton, etc. These are all examples of composers that I did not play enough of, or avoided associating memories with. As such they are all I can listen to while I read or write, because anything else engages me too much. That’s why I never write while listening to violin concertos. I can’t help being distracted by them – following them actively. I would get nothing done!

This is a shambling post; the post equivalent of an old man in a queue wearing his coat inside out, and so I apologise in advance to any complaints, of which there may be millions.

In postscript, I would like to complain that my mind now associates Tintagel, by Arnold Bax, with GRRM’s Game of Thrones. I must have listened to it too many times as I trawled through the existing books in the series and now when I listen to it and write I am tempted to make my characters do stuff with swords, dwarves and mud and the say the occasional ‘fuck’.

By the way, if you feel the urge you can hear my old band (and why wouldn’t you?), The Plug, in some recordings we did. It’s a myspace page I’d forgotten about. Happy deriding!


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