Monday, October 4, 2010

Mickey Mouse Music

A sometimes sobering connection to the contemporary era is the fact of background music so often playing just below your awareness as you venture through malls, office buildings, department stores, even coffee houses (which you would think would know better).  The sobering continues when you are put on hold for a human voice to emerge on the line while you wait on the telephone for the likes of technical support from your cable network Internet supplier or that other technical support now euphemistically called health care.  You are not thought likely to maintain your patience waiting for the various plateaus of connection on telephone calls, and you have no hard proof to support this belief but you suspect the management of the malls you so warily approach want some measure of your compliance, thus they provide you with music.

It requires some discipline to your imagination to imagine the groups of musicians who record such music.  Regardless of its genre, it all emerges from the sound studio sounding the same, a kind of musical equivalent of the packets of non-dairy creamer served with coffee on airlines or the increasingly popular portable meal trucks.

You first became aware of the music of which you speak while riding in elevators.  The music, homogeneous in its ghastly sound, seemed geared to assure you that were you to become trapped in an elevator for any length of time, you would be safe and soothed, not at all trapped or suspended within the bowels of some building with a design suggesting you were visiting tiers of a wedding cake.

The music of which you speak was in your younger days referred to as Mickey Mouse Music, a term you heard for the first time from a dear friend, the expressive and articulate pianist, Mort Jacobs.  Speaking of another musician, he said, "He's working now in a Mickey Mouse band."  It took no imagination at all to discern what he meant.  You knew immediately that the musician referred to was producing the kind of music that no musician wants to produce for him- or herself.  You also knew then and for all this time to come that while music is of paramount importance to you, so too is the silence of the inner self and of places and venues that need no Mickey Mouse band playing ameliorating or reassuring sounds thus to spare you from the ethereal sounds of silence.

Music of the spheres has as many (if not more) genera than music.  There is to be sure country silence, river and stream silence, ocean silence, mountain silence.  During some of these silences, you hear the occasional sound of a train passing through or a hawk keening its hunting cry overhead; there is the rustle-of-wings silence at night where owls sweep the area for a midnight snack of hapless rodent, indeed the anguished cry of the rodent singing its death song.  There is the silence of frogs, of cicadas, the sudden rush of wind, the silence of heat thermals rising, the excellent silence of tall grass performing unobserved salsa in an afternoon breeze.  The sound of things growing, of ideas sprouting; the thrum of wings of the migratory birds and the flutter of ideas at night, wanting to try their wings in your imagination.

It makes some sense to you that certain insects are drawn to certain plants, that nature has a plan for individuals within a species (it's called mating) and for some inter-species attraction such as the immediate draw you felt with Sally the moment you saw her.  It makes sense that the non-Mickey Mouse Music is so evocative of nuances of emotion within the human species because it is, after all, composed by humans, men and women of what you like to think of as emotional index.  It also makes sense that there has been a history of interaction between writing and music.

As you have noted earlier, there is some connection to noise that is refreshing because it is the noise of individuals doing what they do best, interacting and sharing ideas.  There is a connection to the inner silence that should provide a sign for the individual experiencing it:  PERSONS AT WORK.  The working individual, at least that kind of working individual to which you refer, is a flurry and hive of noise and silence, words and music; the inner self is the forge on which is pounded out the great original sounds and concepts of the universe.  Humanity may not have made the mountains or the rivers; indeed, humanity often cannot control the mountains or the rivers, but there are glorious moments when they are able to control and shape the ideas and sounds that inspire us, generations after they were argued out in the solitary cell of creativity to which we all spend some of our time, listening. We need no Mickey Mouse music to reassure us.  We have our own music of the spheres of our self.

1 comment:

Storm Dweller said...

I love all of this, and agree whole-heartedly. though i must admit when you began the track of a technical support line with "Mickey Mouse Music" immediately the piece by Beethoven, Symphony No. 6 in F, Op.68 "Pastorale" that has become such a popular piece to use, but was also utilized in Fantasia for the Greek Mythology segment. Mickey Mouse music indeed.