Seeing with my ears

It’s mid-week at Jackson’s Journal, time for Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting, a memoir-in-progress of my life’s spiritual journey.

Galileo Galilei and Leonardo DaVinci saw the abstract. Their minds and eyes saw three- and even four-dimensionally. I look at a house and I see the walls, the roof, the doors. Good old Leo looked at a house and saw those, too, but the walls, roof and doors was a transparent skin. Just look at his sketches. Same for Galileo. They both saw the studs, framing, cross beams – I can’t even think of all the segments and details that carpenters and architects design and build.

But G. Leo and Leo D. saw the design, each detail and processed the image in both the abstract and the concrete.

I so envy people who have that ability. I worked some years ago (briefly) as a surveyor’s apprentice. First of all, the guy was a math whiz, measured the azimuth of angles and saw much of the physical world with a Galileo/DaVinci mind.

So where’s all this going?

I’ve been gifted with the ability to hear – even smell – three-dimensionally. Yeah, I said “smell.” I can’t explain it, but many smells come to me as multiple parts, perhaps molecules, but aromas and odors also trigger vivid memories. One of my most annoying habits (if you’d ask Kelly) is that I often smell my food. I don’t just mean sniffing the air or taking a deep breath to draw in the fragrance of life around me. I mean slicing a piece of meat or digging a fork into green beans, lifting the morsel to my snout and smelling. Not every bite, not every morsel, but often enough that it borders on weird. It’s hard to explain.

My hearing, which Kelly claims is deficient when discerning the spoken human voice, is multi-dimensional. I hear harmonies all around. A couple of mornings  ago a redbird in the backyard was confidently singing and a trash truck a couple of blocks away must have been backing up, based on the “beep, beep” that sounded a perfect G to the redbird’s C. Without thinking, I found myself humming the E and then the low C.

A “C” chord.

Our youngest, Natasha, has this same gift. (Maybe part curse and blessing. It keeps my head full and occupied). Natasha and I often harmonize with very random sounds: the hum of a moving elevator, the “ding” of the elevator when it reaches the desired floor, just about anything mechanical. The weird thing is that we’ll add the appropriate notes simultaneously, without cue.

I don’t just hear a note or a sound. I hear a symphony. But I’m not equally gifted with the ability to put those sounds on paper.

You’re still asking, “Where’s all this going?”

In my earliest memories of sacred hymns, prayer meeting music (which was often a cappella) and instrumental music, I can’t remember not hearing and “seeing” every note and chord with my ears. Dad had a deep, resonating bass voice and incredible range. Mom had an operatic soprano voice. I think I was 9 or 10 and singing either bass or tenor (sometimes alto) without knowing it.

It’s what I hear. It’s really pretty cool.

I’ll bet Galileo and DaVinci would have envied me.

Here’s our Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting music. This is the Gaither Vocal Band, featuring David Phelps, singing “Worthy Is Your Name.”

A string quarter provides accompaniment. Very sweet. If you’re familiar with David Phelps, you’ll wonder – as I did – why he’s is such a low register. But keep listening.

I dare you not to stand or raise a hand to heaven at the 2:58 mark. Dude goes an octave higher. Very sweet.

I love searching YouTube for performances of my favorite hymns. I seem to always find a hidden gem. I’ve never heard of The Hastings College Choir and I’m stunned this video has barely over 13,000 views.

Beneath the Cross of Jesus features impeccable harmony and you’ll appreciate this performance even more if you’re a stickler for technical elements. You’ve just got to listen.

Finally, no harmony here, just a simple singer, Don Francisco, and simple lyrics. The selected photos are perfect. Make sure you’re volume is up. Prepare your heart for conviction.

Steeple Song is one of the most unique songs you’ll hear.

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2 Comments

Filed under Kelly, MIP: Memoir-in-progress, Old Time Religion

2 responses to “Seeing with my ears

  1. Sharon Assel

    Take a listen to this ensemble (http://te-deum.org/Listen.aspx?song=2)–Zeke sings in this group. (He’s in the picture on the home page.) Let me know what you think–it’s “long-hair” music, and most of what they perform is in German, Latin, or Italian. I think I’ve missed maybe one performance since he was accepted into the group.

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