Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sunday Scribbling-Goosebumps

A high B-flat~the one two octaves above middle C, cutting through the overcast sky on a grey day in Washington, DC. Seventy five high school students, and 10 adults, standing shoulder to shoulder, each one holding tightly to a small portion of the gigantic American flag blanketed in front of them. The last verse of the Star Spangled Banner~"the land of the free"~the held note on the word free, and one soprano lifts her voice above all others, bravely jumping the octave and landing squarely on that high B-flat, which soars like an eagle in flight. Recalling it now, 15 years later, my arms are covered in goosebumps.

I love musical goosebump moments, those instants when the music, the performer, the atmosphere, all come together and create a moment of such power and beauty that a shiver runs down your spine, and your flesh prickles with delight. I've been lucky enough to hear quite a few in my years as a musician. Often, it's not just the music itself, or even the performer, but the circumstances that lend the magic to the moment, setting the goosebumps to rise. On that choir trip to Washington, we visited Fort McHenry, where they unfolded the largest American flag in existence, allowing us to stand outside holding this massive piece of cloth which symbolized all the hopes and dreams of the American people. Singing the national anthem at that moment was thrilling enough - to hear that beautiful high note, completely unplanned, was certainly the icing on the cake. Since that day, every time I've sung the anthem, I hear that note in my head, and remember Kelly McBride, the young girl who sang it.

My emotional involvement with the high school students adds to my enjoyment of their performances, and increases the opportunity for goosebump moments. But I also have them listening to Measure for Measure, my husband's men's choir. Last winter, eighty five men, the last verse of Franz Biebl's Ave Maria, the funeral of the groups beloved founder and director~a huge goosebump moment. And when I was playing regularly with Classical Bells, I had a few such moments ~ a bell festival in 2000, our solo piece, Debussy's Arabesque, watching the festival director (who was French) listen to the flowing arpeggios with his head back, eyes closed and a wonderfully satisfied smile on his lips~sent shivers down my spine.

Playing music, listening to music, creating music, is a natural high for me. It stimulates some nerve center in my brain that fills me with delight and deep satisfaction. As a musician, one of my goals is always to have the listener experience one of those thrilling moments when the music touches them deeply enough to cause a physical reaction~ that little frisson of pleasure you feel down your spine or in the pit of your stomach. Last spring, our final concert at school, a fabulous arrangement of How Can I Keep from Singing, my husband hugs me afterward and says, "Wow, I can't believe how well you played that - it gave me goosebumps!"


for more goosebump moments, go here

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17 Comments:

Blogger Gilson said...

Musical goosebumps rock! Nothing makes me feel more alive than a musical goosebump. Recently I saw Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker suite for piano solo, and I was speechless.

8/11/2007  
Blogger paris parfait said...

Ah yes, musical goosebumps are the best kind. Lovely post. Will catch up w/ you at the end of the month. xo

8/11/2007  
Blogger Rob Kistner said...

Enjoyable read... thanks! It is interesting how many of our contributions to this week's prompt, mine included, led to music as the source of goosebumps.

8/11/2007  
Blogger Regina Clare Jane said...

Oh, handbells can certainly give me goosebumps!
What a wonderful post!

8/11/2007  
Anonymous gautami tripathy said...

Yet another post on music. Seems like this is one high binding us all.

8/11/2007  
Blogger Paul said...

Can we imagine a world without music. Now that would be goosebumps of the very worst kind.

8/11/2007  
Anonymous colleen said...

Art, music included, can have a visceral effect on me. I think it's interesting that singing the Star Spangled Banner can give me goosebumps even though I'm not much of a flag waver, I don't like the meaning of the song and a lot of what the U.S. has done.

8/11/2007  
Blogger Fledgling Poet said...

The fact that so many of these goose bump posts are about music speaks very strongly to the power and joy of music! Beautiful post...

8/11/2007  
Blogger Star said...

Beautifully shared. "Stars and Stripes Forever" always gives me goosebumps.

8/11/2007  
Blogger raymond pert said...

Sometimes it's very ordinary voices singing that does it. The congregation at my father's funeral joined in singing "God Bless America" as a benediction. Ordinary voices, joined to honor my father by singing his favorite patriotic song, and goosebumps crawled from my forehead to my ankles. The music goosebumps are so fickle.

8/11/2007  
Blogger Inland Empire Girl said...

I have had goosebump experiences with music also... patriotic songs, favorite classical arrangements, and children in a choir. Any time any where... goosebumps. Today it was listening to Rhapsody in Blue.

8/11/2007  
Blogger Tammy said...

I wish I could have heard that concert. Music brought me back to God when I got sick. Music can move me to goose-bumps more than anything, except Dave. LOL

HUGS

8/12/2007  
Blogger AnnieElf said...

Just reading this reminds me all of the wonderful musical goosebumps I've experienced.

8/12/2007  
Blogger sundaycynce said...

Becca, How beautifully you have captured the special thrill of "musical goosebumps"! Music brings some of my best goosebumps too. Since voice is my instrument of choice and expertise (as close as I get)as often as the thrilling stir of the music itself, for me it is the words and their poignant significance in a particular situation that bring me to chill bumps and often to tears.

Thanks for saying it all so well.

8/12/2007  
Blogger Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

Love those moments that send a chill of excitement through music ... wonderful post! Peace, JP

8/12/2007  
Blogger Mardougrrl said...

Oh, what a beautiful post! This seems like a good place to share that the end of the US National Anthem always brings tears to my eyes. When someone hits that note, it's TRULY thrilling.

8/12/2007  
Anonymous Olsum said...

Nice piece of work, Becca. It brought back memories of the day Diana died. I watch on SCV (stand for Singapore Cable Vision) when Elton John sang "Candle in the Wind"...and the goosebumps flucters along my arms up the shoulders.

8/13/2007  

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