Synaesthetic To a Fault

Synaesthetic To A Fault (Adam Faux)

Physicists can argue that time travel to the future is doable. Einstein proposed it so. Heck, I’m doing it right now. There…I did it again. It’s the going back that is troublesome. Theoretical wormholes aside, the menace that might manifest by altering my negligent oboe practice while visiting 1979 again, might have launched me on some space-time hautbois career. Instead, one lonely shehnai gathers star stuff in a light brown wicker basket with other musical necessities such as the toy store hand drum dangling two strings with black plastic balls, and a cherished wooden shaker stamped “Remenyi Music”.

        My shehnai was given to me by my wife before we were married. It is common to Goan culture,and also played symbolically at northern, South Asian weddings, when a bride leaves her parents’ home for her husband’s. My shehnai means very little to me without the future that arrived, or without the peace of our present home. Regarding it, and the memory of its lost double reed begins synaptic activity linked to my high school orchestra first oboe position, and a frustrated 14-year-old obsessed with Punk and Jazz. Of equal importance, is the cascading green glow emanating from my Rotel stereo amplifier. The system’s speakers had to be placed just so because imaging was already an obsession for me, and therefore inextricably tied to my listening pleasure and musical education. I drooled at the discovery of a full drum kit panned to the left or finding that a voice crooned into a single mic, while some members of the orchestra played twenty feet behind her or him.

It is no wonder that I am still engaged in academic inquiry involving music and imaging. Image and imaging play important roles in the way that we perceive music, and are cardinal in the composing of it. The thing is, my environment real or implied, sustains a synaesthetic experience that triggers visual  memories, emotions, and physical sensations that play out as I listen. Even if I have never heard that to which I am listening, there are already historical, environmental and cultural signposts in play that force connections to previous sensations that are not to be found under the definition of either of the two of five senses usually paired with music; hearing and sight. One alone is not satisfying at all.

In short, while time travel to the past is metaphorically and metaphysically entirely possible, I cannot un-hear/see/feel the synaesthetic experience that defines what music is now. Even if I did go back physically through time travel, I would not alter those aspects of the human psyche’s ability to connect one sense to another across time, making music composition a visual, emotional, aural and tactile discipline.

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