Quote of the day: MUSIC

August 1, 2010


The musicians took the stage. The singer was wearing a dull green sari. She must have been sixty, was grand-looking, stern, hefty. She supervised the tuning of the tempura, sipped water without letting the bottle touch her lips, and waited….

Within minutes of starting to sing, she was transformed. It was like hearing a girl, dark-haired and lovely as the gopis Krishna had spied on from is tree-top hideaway. I had no idea what she was singing about, could not even tell when the words stopped being words and became just syllables, gliding sound. Her hands reached into the air above her as if the notes were growing there and, as long as they were picked endlessly, over and over, would always be there. Music people talk about perfect pitch, but what her voice made me think of was perfect posture: hair as long and straight as a supple back; bare feet moving so lightly they scarcely touched the ground. Her voice promised absolute devotion; but then the note was stretched further still, beyond this, until you wondered what you would have to do to be worthy of such devotion, such love. You would have to be that note, not the object of devotion, but the devotee. Her voice slid and swooped. It was like those perfect moments in life, moments when what you hope for most is fulfilled and, by being fulfilled, changed – changed, in this instance, into sound: when, in a public place, you glimpse the person you most want to see and there is nothing surprising about it; the pattern in the random, when accident slides into destiny. A note was stretched out as long as possible and then a little longer; it continued, somewhere, long after it was capable of being heard. It is still there, even now.

— Geoff Dyer, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi

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