Bright Midwinter

One thing I've discovered living in Durham for five years now is that its generally mild and friendly weather here suits me (mostly) well. In some ways, it even reflects my music-making. Let me explain. We all have individual preferences when it comes to music. You probably have a style of music you automatically go to when you're at work or play, or driving around town....maybe a radio station, or iTunes radio/Spotify/Pandora/SoundCloud, etc. playlist that is your routine. It's your "go-to" music for everyday life. But then, life throws you a surprise, wanted or unwanted, and you seek out a different kind of music to match your mood, perhaps to deepen the feelings of joy, or maybe act as an antidote to sadness (or go deeper to really wrestle with it face to face). I'm the same way. Although I like to write and listen to music which involves matters of the heart and spirituality, quite often I just need to get out of the default mode and taste something completely different, maybe African drumming or techno-dance music, or whatever ditty is currently popular in bubblegum-pop music (well, not that really), but sometimes I feel an urge to write or hear something further from my norm. An idea may strike me, or I may be searching but not quite finding. When that happens, I am thankful that I regularly immerse myself in a local composer group, another circle of songwriters, a couple of top-notch choral groups and more. This helps get me into other realms of music which I maybe wouldn't experience otherwise. 


So what does this have to do with the weather in Durham? At first glance, maybe little, but I have observed a discernible and distinct correlation between the weather and my musical frame of mind. To grossly oversimplify: cloudy=pensive, sunny=hopeful, snowy=wonder, rain=calm, windy=animated, humid=mellow, etc. However, in truth these equations are incomplete, and on many occasions simply do not tell it like it is. When I was a child, I was taught that music in minor keys=sad, and music in major keys=happy. Sometimes this is true, but for many songs nothing could be further from the truth. It all depends on tempo, rhythm, context, lyrics (if present), instrumentation, delivery of performance, past experiences of those who listen, present experiences of those who listen, and yes...even the weather,....and so on... Personally, I love minor keys because they offer the most potential for variety in harmonic colors and provide the most interesting vessel for channeling a very high level of energy. Major keys can be so very boring and unsatisfying compared with the potential of music in minor keys....but I digress.


Here's the thing about Durham weather, what I love the most is that no matter what it is, it is guaranteed to change, often unpredictably and in short order. Variety is the foundation on which I try to form my musical world, performing and writing both! So for as long as it works out for me to be a Durhamite, I know I will have natural surroundings which at times complement and other times contrast my musical mood. Whatever the forecast, variety is going to be on tap in Durham, and for that I am glad!

Write a comment

Comments: 0