Saturday, October 3, 2009

Being in Love with Words and Music

Words and music have been two of my lifelong passions. When I was around three I would listen to the older women at church in animated conversations speak in their big Sunday-go-to-meeting-hats with inflections that rose and fell in sonorous rich tones punctuated with both laughter and consternation and wished to express myself too. Many times I did and they listened.

Music has always been very important. My father was an excellent pianist, my mother was a composer (and poet), my grandfather's songs can be found in many hymnals and I began singing very early. When I was ten a renowned impresario's wife heard me sing and an operatic role was written for me. She was a respected musician in her own right and composed an operetta for my school.

When I came across these words of William Faulkner, who's among my top ten favorite novelists, I had to really ponder them.

I would say that music is the easiest means in which to express, but since words are my talent, I must try to express clumsily in words what the pure music would have done better.
What are your thoughts?


Corrie Howe said...

I think I would have to agree. I wish I could sing. When I'm alone in my car I sing with all my heart and soul..mostly praise music to the Lord. As I hear myself sing some of the words someone else wrote, I wish I could've come up with them myself. And I love many of the melodies which go with the lyrics.

No, my words seem trite and powerless as I'm praying them to the Lord. So I fall back on the verses which say the Holy Spirit knows what we need to say and will speak these on our behalf.

Judith Ellis said...

Thank you for your story, Corrie. I understand it intimately. The Lord knows those who are His and we are all, in fact, His. Many blessings to you.

Marion said...

I think the marriage of music and words is pure magic. I was just saying one day last week that when I listen to music, it inspires me to write. Then I realized that music was one of my muses.

That thought lead me to look up the etymology of the word music and I found this from Wikipedia: "The word music comes from the Greek mousikê (tekhnê) by way of the Latin musica. It is ultimately derived from mousa, the Greek word for muse. In ancient Greece, the word mousike was used to mean any of the arts or sciences governed by the Muses. Later, in Rome, ars musica embraced poetry as well as instrument-oriented music."

How fascinating is that?!! I love learning new things. I used to wonder why we don't have poets today on the level of Whitman or Shakespeare and I realized that some of my favorite poets are songwriters. They're the poets of our time.

I'd love to hear you sing, Judith. Surely, you sound like an angel. Love and Blessings!

Judith Ellis said...

Beautiful comment, Marion. Thank you. A dear friend, Naomi Shihab Nye, is an extraordinary poet and wonderful guitarist and singer. If you send me your email, it would be my pleasure to send you a few of my recorded songs. Thanks for your vote of confidence too. It's appreciated. :-)

Dave Wheeler said...


My thought is that I wish I was that talented to think of something that profound to say!

As a trainer, quotes, lyrics, books, stories, and music are invaluable in being able to give folks something to use to assign meaning to the points I'm trying to make. Music is just fun and can overcome a bunch of barriers and help create a terrific atmosphere to share space and time in..."Busting Loose" was a great success, by the way, on the Friday afternoon "get out yo seat and on yo feet dance 'cause we can" dance time!

Great post Auntie J...AS ALWAYS!

Judith Ellis said...

Dave - You are my friend and this I am appreciative of. I laughed aloud reading your opening. Thank you for your encouragement.

I love your take on music as a space that creates commonality and breaks down barriers. It is indeed the universal language. Thanks for that.

Space is everywhere, structured sound too.

So, did you actually use "Bustin Loose" in you training seminar? Oh, that is FANTASTIC!

Anonymous said...

what faulkner book is this quote from??