Friday, January 13, 2017

Bach Again


I almost fell asleep driving back from work yesterday and stumbled into my house exhausted.
I had three choices for revival:

   1) A nap
   2) An uncharacteristic cup of coffee
   3)  Bach’s English Suite No. 6

I went with Bach and stood up after two hours at the piano fully alive, alert and energized.
This man surely was a Divine Messenger and though (thankfully), no church with dogma has arisen around his works, the practice of his music is every bit as effective a conduit between Heaven and Earth as the most devout Christian prayer, the most dedicated Buddhist meditation or Hindu yoga.

His lines are threads that stitch together the torn fabric of the world’s ragged cloth. They course through the nervous system like electric wires, sparking our dulled senses and bringing light and warmth. Fingers that waste their promise pushing buttons and texting come alive in patterned calisthenics and radiate their full intelligence.The mind content to sleepwalk through the predictable changes and vapid melodies of pop music awakens to intricacies worthy of its 10 billion possible neuron connections. (Try memorizing a Bach piece to realize just how complex the configurations are.) And the heart. Compared to the Romantics, Bach may appear cold and calculating, but deep inside the Sarabandes and Arias are emotions worthy of the most sensitive poet.

Of course, Bach is not the only show in town. Nor should he be. All good music is the meeting of body, mind and heart and each piece or style, rightly heard, unlocks another faculty of the soul. (Stealing from Coleridge here). But Bach is my go-to guy to revive my slumping self. When you find something with the restorative power of naps, coffee, meditation, exercise and lovemaking combined, you know you’re on to something good.

Bach is reason enough to keep making the kids go to piano lessons and my advice to people retiring is to forget golf and dust off your own forgotten piano chops from 50 years ago and return to the hidden treasures of Prelude No. 1.

Thank you to my parents, my piano teacher Mrs. Lutz and J. S. himself for the gift that keeps on giving. 

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