Friday, August 8, 2008

The Wordless Wonder of Music and Emotions

How is it I can tune in to the opera channel on my Music Choice selector, not understand a word that is been sung, and yet experience such a definitive array of emotions as I listen? Admittedly, my knowledge of opera is very limited - I may only 'know' three or four with any intimacy - but even that doesn't prevent me from enjoying immeasurably the sublime conspiracy of voice and music in offerings I know nothing about.

In the final act of Turandot (by Giacomo Puccini) - as Turnadot commands that no one sleep until the name of her suitor prince is revealed thus allowing her to escape the fate of marriage by condemning the Prince to death - the Prince, anticipating that his name will not be revealed by anyone, sings the excruciatingly beautiful aria Nessun Dorma ("None shall sleep"). Even without the benefit of translation, the unmistakable emotions of intense longing, selfless love and joyful anticipation can be experienced by those with absolutely no inclination toward opera.

So distinct and powerful are the emotions conveyed in 'Nessun Dorma', as well as those conveyed in the simplest of human communiques such as a soft kiss or a gentle touch, I am compelled to question the very capacity of words to suffice as a means of communication. Does it mean more to say, "I love you," or is the feeling of love, evoked by any number of means, simply more meaningful to experience? As an amateur writer, I often feel helpless when attempting to capture complex emotions or ideas, as though words are totally inadequate to the task. And yet, I am driven by the challenge to find those very words which, when deftly applied, can accomplish the near-impossible.

On those occasions when words are, indeed, destined to fail, fortunately there is not necessarily a corresponding void of communication altogether. Some of the most meaningful things people ever say to one another are "said" via the intricate language of a loving silence or mesmerizing gaze. And surely most of us have experienced the transcendent joy that often comes from just listening to an intimately pleasing musical composition.

So I'll continue my search for those elusive words as long I aspire to convey meaning through the nominal conventions of written and spoken language. But hopefully, I'll be tuned in when those special moments demand that I let go of the keyboard, put down the pen, shut my mouth and communicate in that most nearly perfect way - without words.

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