Thursday, July 05, 2007

Explaining sad

And to salute our troops, the musicians unveiled Samuel Barber’s “Adagio For Strings,” a somber piece that was used in the film “Platoon.”
-- Boston Herald review of last night's Boston Pops

The boys were struggling to stay awake to listen to Tchaikovsky's 1812th Overture and see the fireworks that followed the Pops July 4th concert. Little lady gave up a while ago and asked to be put to bed (did I ever tell you how reasonable this 3-year-old can be? Asking to go to bed - how did I luck out?).

Conductor Keith Lockhart introduced the next piece while wearing a bright yellow EMT rain coat. He said it was a tribute to all military past and present. As it started I gasped and said it was such a sad piece to play. The son sprawled on my lap asked why it was sad.

"Listen to the music - how the notes make you feel."

"Just tell me" he moaned.

"No honey, you cannot explain music. You feel it. Can't you hear the way the notes flow? It sounds like sadness."

He was silent and asleep before Adagio for Strings was finished.

Then I realized that was one of my more boneheaded attempts to explain something to one of my kids. Why would I expect a nearly 7-year-old kid to know that kind of sad? That heart-breaking, make you cry from the depths of your soul kind of sad? If he did know it, he had already lived a hard life.

But he didn't. And I am glad.


Ambassador said...
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Ambassador said...

My darling A--

You know how viscerally I react to powerful music, especially works like the Adagio...each of your kids, in time, will associate music of all kinds with the most extreme emotions. Like you, I'm glad they don't have anything to connect to that kind of sadness yet.

There will always be time to learn sadness.

Wonderful, personal post. I love you! Ken

Fourier Analyst said...

I remember this piece being played while they showed pictures of families grieving after 9/11. I can't hear even a few notes of this piece without seeing those images in my mind's eye and viscerally feeling the impact of such sadness. While my children have been blessed with not knowing anything that would make them so sad, both have reacted to hearing this piece by saying, "Mommy, it's beautiful but it's sooo sad". And I hugged them through my tears and said "Yes babies, I know". Had to play this piece again while writing and now I have to go blow my nose...

Brillig said...

I'm so glad your children don't know that kind of sadness. There are children all over the world who are their age who DO know that kind of sadness. You're definitely doing something right.

(And hello? Your three-year-old asks if she can go to bed?????)

Jami said...

All I have to do is just read the title of that piece and I start to get misty-eyed. The reasons aren't important here, but the piece is very powerful for me.

Unfortunately, our children will ultimately learn what "sad" really is but hopefully it won't be any sooner than they can handle it.

And FWIW, my 6-year-old daughter will tell us that it's time for all of us to go to bed when she gets sleepy. Her 11-year-old brother, OTOH, wouldn't admit he was tired or sleepy if he passed out from exhaustion. (OK, I admit that if he passed out he couldn't talk but you know what I mean!)

Kate said...

Wow, the emotion from Adagio for Strings is equally matched by "Nessun Dorma" from the opera Turandot. From-the-gut-make-you-want-to-bawl kind of music. Powerful stuff. Nice post. Makes me want to blog again.

Jenn said...

Your kids are great.