Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Resonance of Rocinante

A discussion now going back a week or so—about stunning musical experiences—brought back several memories. Of these one had been listening, for the first time, to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem. At first Brigitte could not produce the piece or its composer, but she managed to sing, without words, what later turned out to be “Pie Jesu.” I recalled the occasion but nothing more, not a clue; but when I heard the melody that she was humming, I joined right in. Brigitte then said: “It has to do with the end, with death, something in the church.” She made agitated motions common when her memory is working hard but simply not fast enough. It worked a little faster in me. “Requiem,” I said—and Brigitte lit up.

In any case, we got to talking, afterwards, about the magic of music, of resonance, and how it worked and why—and what it might signify. As usually happens, Brigitte assigned me the task of researching resonance, and I agreed.

Well, it turns out to be rather a formidable subject—having everything to do with the wave-forms of which, seemingly, everything is ultimately made. We do not ever see it although, in the form of sound-vibrations, we actually hear it. When it is rendered visible it is just curves on paper, waves upon waves, oddly deforming others while not touching those out of synchrony. An impossible subject—for a brief blog entry anyway. I gave up the effort yesterday.

This morning, oddly, I woke up with the word Rocinante on my mind. Sounded oddly reminiscent of resonance, but I knew nothing else until I looked. Ahh! Insight at last. Rocinante was Don Quixote’s old nag of a horse. Wikipedia explained to me that the name itself is a pun. Ante means before and roci means a nag. Rocinante, therefore, was “just a nag before”—but now, alas, having undergone the heroic adventures as Don Quixote’s companion and mount, it had achieved the status of a Noble Steed.

Now in some ways this has a meaningful resonance for me, old hack that I’ve become—unsteady enough to avoid a massive subject like resonance. But though my feet sometimes stumble and my head sinks as I amble unsteadily on, I know that my adventures in these realms below vaguely promise greater glories up above. Yes. Resonance extends from physics on up to symphonies and the resonance of literature—but yet also higher still to the invisible reaches of the cosmos. Now where did I put my tuning fork?

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