"I love that you're listening to classical," she said from the next room over. I could hear the smile in her voice.
"It's not just 'classical' I'm listening to," I responded, coming to the doorway, "it's Vivaldi."
I've often said I love all sorts of music, and I really truly do. My taste is quite broad, which I'm sure many of you have gathered from my past Mix Tape posts. There is no genre of music I haven't found appealing in some way for some reason.
I realise that classical music is often seen as 'boring' or perhaps the sort of thing you might put on to help you sleep. It's also associated with an older generation and although I may joke about being a sixty year old woman (I like to be in bed by ten-thirty and up at the crack of dawn.) I am not actually. But, as I always say, it's not like a person is incapable of hearing music written before they were born. Whether they appreciate it is an entirely different thing and I think appreciation of such things is fostered in the way a child is brought up. I've already shared my appreciation for books, as it was given to me through the clever parenting of my mum and dad. My love of classical music came about in much the same way. My love of all music, really.
Lacking a television meant we often had the radio on. My dad's favourite station is the famed CKUA, which features an abundance of music from jazz, blues, folk, world and of course, classical. I would attribute listening to CKUA with my love of blues. It was listening to my parents record collection that turned me on to the musical revolution of the 60's and 70's. The contribution of my brothers tastes fed my sounds from the 90's. Going over to my best friend's house was a taste of the 80's and the sounds that were made anywhere but North America.
But my love of Classical came from a series of cassettes my parents purchased for me and my brother. Of course you can now get them as CD's, but my memories of them are of the cases littered around my bedroom floor. I would listen to them at night, as I went to sleep. My parents gave me a small black tape recorder, which I was very fond of. With this recorder I listened to these tapes over and over.
The first one we got was Beethoven Lives Upstairs and for this reason it holds a special place in my memory and in my heart. The story is told through the correspondence of letters from a nephew to his uncle. Beethoven moves into the upstairs flat of the boys home and is the source of much fascination to him. The story is filled with his music and snippets about the foul tempered composer.
The collection grew and soon we had Mr. Bach Comes To Call, Tchaikovsky Discovers America, and Mozart's Magic Flute. But it was the purchase of Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery and subsequent discovery of his music which thrilled me most. I've said again and again that my favourite songs always seem to have stringed instruments in them. From 'Glass Vase, Cello Case' by Tattletale to 'Believe Me' by Fort Minor or 'Oh What a World' by Rufus Wainwright. None of these are 'classical', although they may sample from it, but they all have cello's or violins playing a role.
What I remember most from listening to Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery was how it made me feel. The music was so emotional and intense. I would shiver when it was dark and I would fill up, like my heart had grown wings, when it was light. Each sound felt connected to me in an emotional way I couldn't have possibly explained as a child, and still it effects me. To put on Vivaldi or to hear the lift of violins in a pop song never fails to delight. My step may get lighter or I'll feel this need to sit and write or to grab a brush and let the colours from the music flow onto a canvas.
I adore the memory that the sounds bring forth and I love my parents for exposing me to these sounds at such an early age. I believe it fuels much of my creativity today and I'm happy knowing that the most incredible masters of sound were absolute mis-fits. Indeed, these tapes taught me that, to be full of passion and to do what you love, is to be a bit mad.
I wouldn't have it any other way.