The Musical Love Affair

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Lights blare; the crowd hushes to silence; only my footsteps crack harshly in the deafening emptiness. Thousands of beady eyes focus intently on each and every square inch of my body. Somewhere out in the dark theatre, a cough echoes, seeming inexcusable and out-of-place. I am alone on the stage, the only center for the room’s attention. I raise my eyes to the loge and a roar explodes from the crowd. My arms are raised above me head as I smile lovingly at the audience. Sitting on the deep-black leather piano bench, the room hushes in an uncomfortable, anticipative silence. My fingers delicately rest on the keys, my eyes scanning the magnificent nine feet of strings constituting the Steinway, stretched out before me. Taking a deep breathe in through my nose, I begin to play, the sound filling the monstrous theatre, my mind becoming intoxicated with sonorous music. I feel comfortable in the song for a while; then it changes; I am no longer at home where I am; the music transitions to a place very far from where I began. Emotion drives expression onward into the cavernous abyss. I am focused intently on the music; yet when one is accustomed to playing music, one knows that sounds bring back memories wrapped in the silken gauze of emotions, rushing out through musical expression. The end approaches, I feel. A sense of longing for it to never end engulfs me and I am reminded of so many other nights just like this one, equally as perfect. And then the song is over. I’m sure the crowd is clapping; their hands are moving; but the roar of music in my head deafens me to the sounds of the outside world.

A group of musicians comes out on stage with me and I’m sure that I make some gracious speech to the audience, however subconscious my words seem to be. The next song is counted off; I play once more. But the music has no real beginning or end, only ephemeral constancy. The heavy black Steinway is resplendent in the purple hue of the stage lights and I am suddenly unaware of all tangible things in this world. The music is all. In the air surrounding the other musicians and me, a creative energy flows, water-like, torrential, and imperious.

Just as soon as it began, the concert ends. I bow and leave the stage, waving royally as I exit. Alone in my dressing room, the energy fades, the lights burn out, the world comes rushing back and the dressing room feels cold and isolated. Thoughts are turned to reality: I should get some more gas; I think I’m out of lettuce; I should really head to the office and finish up some work. The stage is gone. The concert fades away.

I am alone on the stage. Dim radiance glows from the work lights throughout the theatre. The air lies dormant, thick around me. I am nothing; I am nobody; I have no talent; I have no worth; it is all a lie, a repugnant untruth; my life, my dreams, and my reality are all inchoate, prone, strewn across the wretchedness of the stage; doubt turns to despair which in turn turns to self-loathing. I try to play, but the feeling is gone, the emotions- all snuffed out. In the dim glow, the piano seems decrepit, deterrent, disdainful even. Tears stream down my cheeks onto the keys that once passionately embraced my fingertips.

But the clouds lift; the lights return.

The theatre is quiet but alive. Breathing deeply, I step gingerly onto the stage I know so well. And the roar begins again. Beloved once more, I am weightless, significant, and unaware of the despair that lies just beneath the surface, at least for a little while.

The crowd hushes once more and I scan those nine feet of strings. A musical love affair begins anew.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

Feelings of Music

Sitting up there, you feel as though everything just falls away, as though there’s nothing left, as if it’s only you, you and the light, the music, and the emotions. Nothing really matters when you’re up there; you can just express yourself and your feelings, free from fear of persecution. Each moment is different from each of the others. And each one in turn slips away into the past, never to be expressed, felt, cherished, or loved again.

Copper-colored strings stretch out under a heavy, black sky of dark wood which dissolves into the repetitive two-tone rows of keys. The bench stands firm and attentive beneath me, waiting for something monumental to occur. The connection from my fingertips to the keyboard is electrically tangible. Only the piano and I have ever spoken like this before; it’s a conversation so intimate and deep that it will never be heard or spoken the same way again. Only we have danced like this before, felt like this before, expressed this deep, intricate, passionate, mysterious love for each other before. We are singly committed to each other and to the creation of music, an art form as emotional as it is deeply meaningful.

I have never laughed with, loved, enjoyed, and harmonized with another person in the same way as when playing music with them. The instruments, the people, and the sounds all come together in an unbreakable, intense bond. Love is produced in many ways, but only through music is it as intimate and deep.

It’s that connection that gives me hope that one day the world will be a better place and that we will all realize the similarities between all of us through the power of music. We are all deeply intertwined whether it’s immediately visible or not. Music removes the veils of ignorant hate, unearthing the complex connections beneath.

Never have I listened, talked, and conversed better than when sitting before a piano. The ecstasy can never be felt any other way. Only through the piano can I fully live and express the way I must to live on another day. The piano and I will never be apart. We are connected physically, emotionally, and most importantly, intimately.

I feel more emotions and feelings through music than I have ever felt any other way. Music changes us and it makes us feel things differently. We will never be the same people again, but the music will always be with us.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones