A world without music is like an empty room, devoid of comfort and character. Add a little music and suddenly there is an armchair to sit in, a plumped-up cushion to rest upon and a few precious objects on a nearby shelf to catch your eye and bring joy and familiarity.
Favourite tunes can make me smile and cry – either way, I return to them for more. A hard day can be lifted by singing along in the car to a lyric from my youth, chopping vegetables become more interesting when accompanied by a dance across the kitchen and life seems better some days by simply sitting still to listen and allowing myself to be in the music. Whatever type of music that you favour, I wonder how you would feel if you were denied access to it and never able to listen again.
I have been thinking about this recently, since I wrote a short story on Twitter this month. I joined in the #7DayTale project, where the aim was to write a short story across a week, within the constraints of one only one tweet per day. This is only the second time that I have joined in and it is fair to say that I am learning as I go. This month’s theme was making music. My offering was called ‘A Morning Melody’ and is included here, but creating it started me thinking about how much music means to me.
Like most people my age, I grew up listening to the radio, turning on the TV each week to watch Top of the Pops and sitting by my cassette recorder during the Sunday chart countdown, poised to catch my favourites on tape and feeling accomplished if I managed to time the recordings just perfectly: all music and no talking from the radio presenter. Music in the 80s shaped our fashions, permeated our films and gave us much to talk about with our friends in the playground. At home, beyond the charts, I heard jazz and country music through my parents’ record collection, danced to classical pieces at my weekly ballet lessons, dabbled in a few folk tunes in beginner level guitar lessons and was even familiar with the marching bands albums that my grandad played when we paid him a visit. Quite an eclectic mix.
I have been fortunate to attend a scattering of live music events over the years. Stand out occasions across different music styles would be the pop of Paul Young and Michael Jackson at Wembley, an orchestral concert at the Southbank, the jazz of Barber and Bilk in the park, and a host of musical theatre performances. Each of these and many more had their own highlights and an ability to connect with me in one way or another. It is that connection that is the key to its power. Music can have that emotional connection, evoke memories, engage us in a journey away from our immediate reality. I have heard similar things said about poetry – perhaps that is why both can mean so much to me. Like many people right now, I long to back in a live music venue, listening and singing along.
From nostalgic memories of Mum playing her Carpenters album at full blast whilst she cooked the dinner, to the pride of hearing my son’s latest band release, my music taste might well be eclectic or haphazard, but it all makes that connection. I bet you could think of a few tracks that define significant times and moments in your life – the school disco, a holiday romance, the first dance from a wedding, a party and much, much more. A few bars played from their introduction or chorus and you can transport yourself back to that moment. Imagine then, if music was no more. How far would you go to keep the music playing? That was the premise for the short story that I share here.
#7DayTale – A Morning Melody
The soft sounds of a melody floated through the open window, accompanying the bird song. A new morning, freshly beckoning, enticing her from beneath the comfort of the bed sheets. Didn’t her neighbour know that flute playing was banned now?
“Where’s it coming from?”
Lizzie craned her head out of the bedroom window, desperate to locate the source. The forbidden notes acted like a drug, wrapping her mind in a comfort she’d forgotten existed.
“I’ve heard this tune before.”
She closed her eyes, the trills washing over her. Out of the darkness, a sketchy figure came into focus. A kind smile, dancing brown eyes and strong, careful hands lifting her up to twirl her around.
“Grandpa – I wish you were still here.”
Back then, she could laugh and twirl to the tunes he played. Before a record collection became contraband. Her smile was bittersweet, recalling Grandpa’s ingenuity in squirrelling his records away from inquisitive eyes. Hidden but now unheard.
Directive 57 had passed barely unnoticed by weary citizens. Every day another freedom lost; another expression frowned upon. Lizzie had stopped listening to the Assemble approved radio tracks. But today an actual flute was playing!
“What was that?”
Lizzie heard it again. It wasn’t early morning confusion or whispers of the stirred memories in her mind. It was a response to the flute melody. Someone else was playing, a violin maybe…
And another – the music was growing.
Pan lids, a whistle, whatever could be hastily fashioned into an instrument was being played all around her. Was this the revolution Gramps always spoke of?
Lizzie ran not the street, do or die, she was ready to follow the band.
Karen Honnor has had a life-long passion to write which has mostly focused upon her poetry and script writing in the past. With a few of her poems published and her scripts used by her local drama group, Karen always had a desire to write something more significant. Motherhood and a teaching career left little time for that but then beginning her blog and circumstances leading to her current career break would change all that.
With a long teaching career completed, Karen is now devoting time to her writing and to her family – husband, Stuart, grown-up children, Matthew and Zoe, and their furry cockapoo called Gizmo. Alongside all this, her usual commitments include much time with her drama group as Producer, Script-Writer and Choreographer. Though that has been put on hold for now, she remains in touch and promises to bring one of her bakes along when they next meet up in person.
Karen now has four books published, with her memoir and fiction writing supplementing her poetry. You can follow her writing adventure via her author website: karenhonnor.com