Euterpe, Muse of Music

It won’t get out of my head.

It just won’t get out of my head.

No matter where I go, I hear it.

But it’s not familiar. I haven’t heard it before. Not on the vid, not on the radio, not through my ‘puter.

It’s totally new.

Which means it’s mine.

There’s only one thing to do.

I walk up to the lounge from the pool, taking the stairs two at a time. There’s an urgency to this; what I have in my head is a limited time offer. The song that’s buzzing around in my brain, in my inner ear, won’t be there forever. It’s happened to me before and always to my great dismay and disappointment. I’ll get a melody in my head at a time or place where I can’t release it to the air or to paper so I can play it again. And by the time I get to a place and time where I can bring forth the product of my muse, it’s gone. Gone forever.

But not this time.

My eyes are focused on my piano as I enter the lounge. Nothing else, no one else matters; indeed, if the room is occupied, I don’t even notice. I flip up the bench top and take out the folder that contains some of my other work. Some scores are half-finished; I had to leave the job halfway through and when I came back to it, I couldn’t recapture the tune, not like I had it before the interruption. Some pieces are complete and just need to be transferred to the music scoring program in my computer for storage. And some songs are so emotional, so deeply personal, that they will never see the light of day, except on the sheets in my folder.

There is fresh scoring paper available, so I take several leaves and arrange them on the piano’s music stand. I dig out my pens. I like to work with a flat, calligraphy-style pen. I have two, one with a totally flat surface and another with a gap in the center for making marks like whole notes. Using them to draw the notes is less time consuming than trying to make little circles with any other kind of pen. I also take out a bottle of ink eraser for I know that during this process, I will be making lots and lots of mistakes in transcribing. I always do.

There’s a small audio recorder at one side of the piano. Turning it on, I begin to play, just a little at a time. Then I go back and listen to what I have recorded, just to see if it matches what’s in my head. If it does, I transcribe it to paper. If it doesn’t, I try again. This is the most tedious part of releasing the music and it can take hours. My family usually abandons the room at this point. Gordon says there’s nothing so aggravating as hearing the same little part of a tune over and over again, especially if there are no changes to be made. My grandma puts it far more kindly. She says that once I’ve started writing the song, she leaves so that when I’m finished, she can come back and be surprised by what I’ve written. My father says that he leaves for both our sakes; so that he can go elsewhere to focus on his work and to give me the opportunity to focus on what I’m doing, without his “puttering around” as a distraction.

The one person who does not abandon me is Kyrano. He will slip in on his quiet feet and bring me a glass of water, or, depending on how long it takes, a small snack. Then he will listen for a bit and go about his duties. I never know when he is there, just the sudden appearance of sustenance tells me that he’s been and gone.

Releasing the music is almost orgasmic. I work at a fever pitch, feeling all jittery inside, frustrated at every mistake I make because it puts the final feeling of accomplishment off further and further. But at last the score is finished. How do I know? I just know. There’s a sense of completion, of wholeness, and of deep relief. I’m no longer jittery. The music is gone from my head and is played out for me on paper. All I have to do is put my fingers on the keys and I’ll hear it again and this time, I get to share it with my family if I so desire.

I do. The music is emotional enough, true, but not a personal emotion. It reminds me of… Gordon and the sea. I think it will move him, and the image that the song invokes in my mind’s eye is of him swimming and diving in the waves. That helps me decide on the title: “Aquanaut”.

I play the piece all the way through. It sounds right, feels right.

It is right.

A soft clapping greets my ears when I end the piece. I look up to see my father sitting behind his desk, smiling at me.

“How long have you been there, Dad?”

“The whole time, Virgil. I got so caught up in what I was doing that I didn’t notice you come in. And by the time I did, I would have disturbed you by leaving. I didn’t want to do that, so I toughed it out. And I’m glad I did.”

I smile, then ask the question that I most need the answer to: “Do you like it?”

His smile gets wider. “Yes, son. Very much. It reminds me of the sea. And of Gordon romping around in it.”

That’s when I know that the song is really right. My father is not an artistic man, so for him to get the same mental images from the song as I do confirms everything I feel about the music.

“Thanks, Dad. It reminds me of that, too.”

I stand and stretch, splaying out my cramped fingers and shrugging my shoulders to ease their tension. A glance outside tells me that I’ve been working on this all afternoon; the sun is setting. My stomach growls alarmingly and I feel a desperate urge of another sort.

“Did we miss dinner?”

“No, son. Your grandma hasn’t called us down yet.”

“Good. I’ll be there soon.”

I leave the lounge feeling empty yet satisfied. My muse has been appeased… for now. Next time, I’m sure it will be a muse of a different sort that plagues me until I capture on canvas what she has inspired me to paint.

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