They have souls, you know. Not fully-formed ones such as ours, mind you. Rudimentary souls. Proto-souls, you might call them.
Or maybe they’re not souls at all. Doesn’t matter. The name you give them isn’t important. That you recognize that there’s a spark of something – a spark of some THING – suspended in the wire and the wood, or curled up inside the brass of the bell, or hiding tucked up against the reed – that’s what matters.
And those things. Those THINGS… when they’re ignored long enough they go crazy trying to make music without a human hand, a human heart, to guide them.
You know how when you walk by a cello on a stand, sometimes you hear a hint of resonance? Or you think you hear a piano note late at night?
Those are them. The sparks trying to become flame.
We talk about great musicians being connected to their instruments, playing as if the violin or saxophone an extension of their body? That’s because the spark has found ignition.
A raw, new, unplayed instrument will fade into dust.
But one that’s felt the loving touch of elegant hands on its keys, the special balanced weight of sticks being held to drum, the soft slide of a virtuoso playing a glissando – those instruments quite literally go mad.
They cry out loneliness in crazy concertos that fold in upon one another like cobwebs. They fill empty rooms with the dissonant sounds of their grief.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, what were you saying about the music room?” Sarah had been lost in thought, seeing the poor old piano.
“Piano comes with the house” the woman in the gold blazer repeated. “Previous owner was a classical star until arthritis killed his career.”
Sarah made some polite response as she and Gold Blazer Woman moved to the next room in the walkthrough. But she cast a final glance at the deteriorated instrument and the collection of empty chairs.
“Don’t worry.” She willed the ancient Steinway to hear her thoughts. “I’ll save you.”
Coda? by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.