Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ode To Joy

Yesterday Ed downloaded Beethoven's 9th Symphony for me. It took him two days to find a version that was whole and of good quality. This has been one of my favorite pieces of music since I discovered it in 1993. I latched onto the 4rth movement as a lifeline through many of the ups and downs of my mood disorders. I have often wondered if there was something about this symphony that actually rewires the brain and makes it less receptive to the emotions of fear and despair or maybe just more competent to process them in a life affirming way because it really did feel like the hundreds of hours I listened to this symphony throughout the nineties caused a significant shift in my psyche.

The first time I consciously remember hearing The Ode to Joy, I was listening to classical radio while doing housework. It stopped me in my tracks and before it was over I was in tears and for the first time in my life I knew what was meant by tears of joy. I did not even know it was called Ode to Joy yet. I had to listen to the station obsessively for over a week before I caught the name of the Symphony and it was several weeks later before I bought a CD and learned what the 4rth movement was named.

Ode to Joy, both the title and the music, has been tightly woven into my sense of myself since then. My discovery of it was near the beginning of the traumatic break with the fundamentalist sect of my childhood and thus the beginning of what I did not yet know was my personal spiritual quest. It seems somehow apropos that my spiritual quest seemed to take on the theme of seeking joy. The pun or double entendre was not lost on me then. I had long thought it was ironic, even grossly unfair, that having been given the name, Joy, I spent a good part of every year since age four battling the demons of profound sadness and despair.

I have not listened to Beethoven's 9th very often since we moved in with Ed's parents in 2001. I did bring my two CDs of it with me but both had developed scratches right in the middle of the 4rth movement. Then the headphones to my discman got shorted out. I had gotten Ed a nice boom box that first Christmas here and after that I did listen to it occasionally but it was so frustrating to not be able to crank it like I always had before. The walls of trailer homes are thin. Even cranked it would have had to compete with the very loud soundtracks of the movies my father-in-law watched. Listening to my music cranked was one of the benefits of staying home alone on Saturdays during dirt track season when Ed and his folks were gone from six to ten hours.

Somehow in the last couple of years both of the CDs had gotten misplaced in the chaos of this room. I found them during the June makeover of the room and started listening to them in July during the Sven challenge after I suddenly remembered that music had been an integral part of my writing routines all through the nineties after I had discovered its power to set a mood-to-order for a scene or even an entire story or a character. By associating a piece of music to a particular piece of writing it not only helps set the needed mood but it helps in the transitioning back into the work on it after a break. It also helps immensely in retrieval of memories of your thoughts and intentions for the story which I guess is why it helps with the transitioning--a kind of conjuring by association. Sometimes I can write on the scenes while the music is playing but more often listening to the music is part of the intense daydreaming of the story during the prep stages--the initial prep stage when a story idea is newborn and the daily prep stages for writing scenes.

Beethoven's 9th symphony, movement 4 had become so integral to my life, I very nearly named my blog Ode to Joy.

It had been several months again since I listened to it and years since I've been able to hear the 4rth movement without skips and stutters. I listened to the entire symphony shortly after I woke up this morning. All 74 minutes of it. I listened with my total attention. In the last ten minutes I was once again surprised by tears of joy. I wanted to listen to the 4rth movement again but the file Ed downloaded is all one track. So this evening I went looking for a good YouTube version of Ode To Joy. The best one was split into two parts which I've embedded below. There is also a good presentation of the entire symphony in two parts: Part 1 and Part 2

Ode To Joy from Beethoven's Symphony #9 4rht movement. Part one is above and part two is below.

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