Bending Time

Time flies like the wind. Fruit flies like bananas. --Groucho Marx (1890-1977)

What is time? A construct? An illusion? All we have? Don't think too hard about it; it's the way we break down our spinning course through space, or whatnot. It's a litte bit like Frankenstein's monster, in that man created it but often seems to be battling against it. No wonder we take such pleasure in the bending of time.

We can bend time in a "copy and paste" sort of way, a la daylight savings: steal an hour from the spring, get it back in autumn. This changes our outlook, giving us that nice extra hour of sunlight in the evening, a renewed sense of freedom after work or school, hope for summer hours. And we of course can stretch out the hours by indulging in the likes of traffic court or standardized testing, or watch time dash by when we're with entertaining people such as yours truly.

But what about music? The way music can move a person, not merely through heartfelt lyrics or soulful solos, but the way a delay in rhythm, the time between verse and chorus, can change your heart rate. The first time we hear a song that shakes us from the inside, we step outside of time, and each time we hear that song again, we try to regain that initial experience. Time slows down, and the way that we measure the moments is in the hold of the song. We relish each beat, not wanting it to end, but try not to relish too deliberately, as this will rob us of the authentic experience. We escape time by immersing ourselves in music, which robes time in sound.

Art can make a statement through its message, or strike one with its beauty, but only music can manipulate time, and that's what makes it so powerful. It pushes us viscerally, literally shakes us, and when vibrations catch us in an unexpectedly pleasing pattern, well...

Anticipation, accumulation, release- music provides this by way of rhythmic interplay and melodic changes. The ticking of the clock, the metronome, they beg to be tinkered with; time pleads to be challenged and molded by music. Poetry can do this, too; anything that toys with rhythm can capitalize on our construct of time. But only music can meld the elements of words, feeling, sound, to grant us the pleasure of slaying time in its embrace.


Popular Posts