Human Notes

Michelle - Cary, North Carolina
Entered on May 20, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe that each human life is like a note on a musical scale with infinite divisions, every one ever so slightly different.

Sitting in front of the shining cover of Monsieur Schimmel [my piano] after a piano lesson a couple months ago, I suddenly had this epiphany about music and life. My teacher and I analyzed the entire first movement of Robert Schumann’s only and most famous piano and orchestra piece- the A minor piano concerto, discussing different chords, key changes and decorations, melodies and harmonies. And at the end, after all the millions of musical ideas we discussed, he said, “Schumann just wanted to get from this note *flip page, flip, flip, flip* to this one.” It was the same note. Of course, the articulation, the decorative notes, the rhythmic patterns can vary throughout the piece, but what I discovered that day, the obvious truth, shocked me: the beginning is the end and end is the beginning. I suddenly saw music and life like I had never seen it before. You realize that the certain drumming of your heart, the certain gait in your stride, and even the certain nuances of the way you play the opening sixteenth note chords in Schumann’s concerto, sets you apart. That makes every person like an individual note from the beginning of life to the end; we are simply searching for ourselves. The notes you are paired with at the beginning of your life and the end may change. I’ve been in a steady four note chord with my mother, father and cat all my life. I believe I live in a perfect F# major chord- a chord built on such a complicated scale with 6 sharps- one that sounds just at merry as C major at its best [such as in the “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles] but with even just one missing sharp, sounding dissonant and sad, like Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto no.1. Both, nonetheless, are beautiful, but just the latter can be emotionally draining at times. Sometimes, I desire nothing more in my life but to be alone- to make it out by myself and be a lone note. During those times, the richness of being in any note chord bothers me. Other times I want to invert the chord and come out on top, sick of the shelter from both sides, that my mom and dad so generously give, and sometimes, during those long days where my dad is visiting some other foreign octave, living with some other foreign chord; our simple triad seems bare and empty. But if we realize that we are each an infinitesimally small, but hugely important position on the grand chromatic scale of things, we find that the place that we are in is just the place we belong. We realize that it is our duty as passing notes [or passing strangers], appoggiaturas, bass notes, 2nds, 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, 6ths, 7ths, and octaves to help the others around us, this world community of notes- whether they be sharp or flat, double flat, double sharp, white or black.

As Pablo Casals, my biggest role model and my favorite cellist, once said, ““The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him.”