"So what makes music? I mean, it’s just notes…"

The Ahn Trio came to Kodiak! What an amazing set of musicians these sisters are, and it’s well worth looking up their website. www.ahntrio.com The coolest thing, though, was that they came to put on a clinic for the Kodiak Youth Orchestra, and I sat in on the session with my daughter, rather than drive home and back. This is where they began talking about music, starting with the quesion, "What makes music?" They spoke of imagination and I don’t know what else, because my mind started spinning.

Music is "just notes" put together, right? A novel is "just words" strung together, right? A painting is "just paint" on canvas, right?  Of course not!

It’s the difference between ground beef and noodles, and a batch of homemade spaghetti. ("Ratatouille" is my favorite movie)

It’s the difference between a grocery list, and a poem. Or a provocative essay. Or "I love you" at the bottom of a Mother’s Day card.

It’s the difference between random notes, and a Bach sonata. Or a Mozart concerto. Or "Twinkle, Twinkle" played by a beginning violinist.

It’s the difference between lines and dots on a page, and a Degas ballerina. Or a Kincaide village. Or your 4-year-old’s picture of their house.

As the Ahn sisters discussed with the kids: The imagination and thought the creator puts into their work evoke the imagination and thoughts of the audience, and that’s what makes the difference.  They played a piece of music by a Brazilian composer, then asked the kids what they thought of when they heard the music. Most of the kids had thoughts of nature, which was awe-inspiring, because the composer wrote the piece thinking of a mountain range in Brazil large enough to cover three Brazilian states. The infinite care and precision and creativity the composer took to create that effect–as well as the care, precision and creativity the musicians took in performing it–is inspiring to me.

It’s also a little scary, as I think of my writing. It’s never "just words". It must never be "just words." It makes me mad when another writer sluffs off his or her work with "just words"–and it’s easy to tell.

God, the ultimate Artist, put care, imagination, precision and creativity into His creation. No random words, no random notes, no random lines or dots…just look at the sun glinting off the snow-covered mountains. Or smell the richness of a pine forest. Or look through your family photo album.  We are created in His image, and must do the same when we create.

I wonder how well I reflect my Creator’s image? Art must come from the heart, and so must character. God, help my life to be more than just words, notes, lines and dots.


P.S.: I never believed that "words will never hurt me," so I wonder what would happen if we all used words in our everyday talk, the same way true writers use words, true musicians use notes, and true artists use paint. Maybe our relationships would be more like masterpieces and less like paint splotches?