“You know what I see when I listen to music in the dark?” she asked, finishing her water. “I think of a glass-bottom boat sailing through the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I don't like it. But when I'm tired, it doesn't scare me as much. But imagine, Charlie, the glass cracking. Not a good way to die. But that is not what scares me. The dark, the dark that passes underneath. How it can just as easily be nothing. Do you know about that? Why do you think I have such a fear?”
“Sounds like you take yourself too seriously.”
“Who else will?”
“Good point.” I said, getting back into the bed and pulling the covers over me.
“What do you see when you listen to music in the dark?”
“Depends on the song.”
- From "A Chapter From a Novel," an undergraduate creative writing selection by Andrew Condouris, at Farleigh-Dickinson.
What do you see when you listen to music in the dark, or with your eyes closed? Do you see the band or orchestra from afar, or are you close enough to see the instrument-forged fingers of each player? Do you see a dance floor, beads of sweat on a partner's brow? Do you see strobing lights? Maybe you see the band playing right in front of you, in your living room. Or maybe you see yourself playing an instrument, singing to an adoring audience. Do abstract waves and color patterns pass through your conscious brain with some instant doppler effect? I imagine some see images of lovers or friends, or scenes from unmade movies. Others may see nothing at all, able to isolate the music as travels from the ear into the nervous system to create a purely auditory experience.
Most of the time, I see the performers, their guitar strings vibrating, the labored look on the violinist's face, the death grip on the microphone. Sometimes it's me playing. I'm almost always on stage, whether performing or just watching. If I'm listening to a song that triggers the memory of a significant emotional event, I'm transported there instantly.
Whatever it is that you see when you close your eyes and listen to music, I'm interested. Please tell me.