Baseline

music

I never knew a Jacuzzi could be musical.

This weekend I dog-sat for a friend who owns a hot tub and who graciously allowed me to use it during my stay. It was an unusually warm spell for February, so I took advantage of the still-chill early morning to enjoy the warmth of the whirlpool.

Tiptoeing across the frosty deck, I lifted the cover and was enveloped in tart-smelling steam. The shock of the hot water on my skin was wonderful, lasting several seconds, and I could then relax against the side and stare up at the lightening sky where just a few solitary stars (planets?) held out against the growing dawn.

I was alone–the neighbors were not up yet and the dog slept quietly just inside. But all was not silent. The jets in the tub made a humming noise as their mechanisms worked, striking a very specific note. A note that reverberated strongly through me.

So I did the logical thing and started singing. (Yes, I do that quite often). But there was a problem: the song I was singing clashed with the note that was resonating inside me–the one I now could not escape–and musical dissonance ensued. It was super uncomfortable.

A March 2017 issue of Scientific American discusses a study by researchers at the University of Toronto Mississauga who analyzed participants’ reactions to levels of self-awareness in themselves and others. Their findings supported the conclusion that while we like self-awareness in others, we generally don’t like seeing less-than-flattering reflections of our personalities mirrored back to us, be that in conversations with acquaintances, as the study looked at, or in…Jacuzzi singing. (Seriously, just go with it.)

Recognizing the ridiculous but fascinating symbolic significance in the situation, I chose to adapt; I changed keys until the note that was vibrating was the correct baseline for the song I was trying to sing. (It was “Amazing Grace,” by the way–I know you were dying to know).

And then…something awesome happened. The melody I sang harmonized with the baseline. The pitches my vocal chords hit blended with the music that was already inside my ears and mind and I could hear both together.

Long story short, I learned something, sitting in that hot tub alone, serenading the sky: don’t fight your baseline. Sing true to the music inside you, and unexpected beauty may result.

 

Above Photo Credit: This is a snapshot of a page of sheet music from my choir book.

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