Understanding Music In My Discernment

Before you continue reading, I need you to go to the bottom of this page, and find the music player. I recently added a track entitled Samba Pa Ti by Carlos Santana. You may have to scroll down on the music player to find it. Find the song, click on it, and then scroll back up to continue reading. This is sort of an interactive post; the multimedia adds to its flava.

It's OK, I'll wait until you get back.

This past week I've come home, in a manner of speaking. Much of my life before college surrounded music: writing, playing, and just the pure enjoyment of it. Many of my memories aren't just images, but sounds and music from those moments in time. This song is one of those few that speaks volumes, though there are no words.

In high school, I fell asleep each night to the sound of Carlos' guitar softly playing through my earphones. The piece is not a complicated one, but as you listen to each note being played, it sounds as if his entire heart, soul, and pain were being transferred through his guitar into this masterpiece of music. The guitar, the held-out notes....I feel the song more than I hear it.

It encompassed everything I loved about music. Playing guitar was not just an act of copying what others had done. It was a means of creation; a way to put into sound what one felt deep inside their soul. It was a gateway to my inner consciousness, and each time I hear this song, I feel I can better understand who I am.

These past few weeks I've tried to find where I would fit in with the Capuchins, what talents and gifts I could bring to such a brotherhood. What good is selling cars or dealing cards in a religious order? What special gift from God am I being called to share with the world?

As I've discerned, my musical gifts have been called upon more and more. I help my parish with the liturgical music now, along with my other duties at the church. I picked up a bass guitar last Sunday for the first time in 13 years, and was surprised I still knew what I was doing. I could still read music, decipher the root, 3rd, and 5th of any scale (major or minor), and that common chord progressions made as much sense as polynomial equations to a college kid taking Pre-Calc again. Everything I thought I'd forgotten just "came back to me."

I spend at least 1 hour a day in practice, and my fingers have that wonderful pain again. I remember how wonderful it was to be one with the instrument, how perfect things were. This was a gift I set aside for loftier, more pragmatic skills. Now that my life has come full circle after seeing what is most important to me, I realize that I gave up my greatest gift for 12 years in search of something "better." It pains me that I lost all that time.

When I was young, I dreamed of being able to have the skills of Santana. I wanted to be as good as he was, perform as well as he did, and to "wow" others like his songs do, even to this day. Now, I still see Santana as an inspiration, but because I remember how his music affected me on a level deeper than I could understand. Perhaps it took some growing up to understand that, but my love for music isn't just about being on stage, but about creating something that affects others. The guitar isn't just a way to get chicks, it's an outlet for my soul.

I'm happy to have found my love once again, and I hope that while you may not share the same love of music or Santana as I do, you can see how following a calling, no matter how untimely or inappropriate it may seem, God always gives us a way to get back on the right path.

Since it is a "samba for you," I'll leave you to enjoy this wonderful piece of music. Perhaps me and my Les Paul can create something just as beautiful someday.

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1 Response to Understanding Music In My Discernment

March 1, 2008 at 7:55 PM

I understand how you feel about music.

I used to play the flute, and I was REALLY GOOD. I wasn't the best, but I was good, and I say that without pride, because I'm not good anymore, and because I had to work HARD to be good. And I did, because it was a sort of escape. (Bipolar Mom...if I could go into my room and play, it soothed the savage beast and kept me separated from flying words and flying objects.)

Anyway, I know what you mean about that pain. The flute is far more gentle than the guitar, but our backs and arms would hurt, our mouths hurt, our fingers would get tired, our feet would get tired. But it was a joy.

And my flute has been calling to me. It's sitting right here near me, by my holy grail music (I posted on this once), and I do want to play it again, I want to sing again (and a coworker thinks I should, and get paid for it to help me pay for school.)

And so I've been praying about it...what does GOD want? I don't want to lose completely what I dedicated myself to for so long.

There is something about music; the pure beauty, the ability of expression, the dedication required, the joy in both listening and performing, the offering for God's glory....

My brother plays guitar, and we once practiced something for a joint recital, guitar and flute. And it was truly beautiful.