Saturday, September 19, 2015

Seeing Some Results: My Brightest Diamond

Since her birth, I have blogged a lot about developing my Little One's musical tastes. This has been staged mostly as a monologue, with me presenting music to her in a structured way and recording her reactions. I have spoken less about her own emerging musical tastes, though, mainly because this blog is meant to transcribe my own listening habits.  She staked a claim around her own identity earlier his year when she got into Let it Go, but increasingly there are points at which our musical tastes converge. There are several albums that I am currently listening to that she has favorite tracks from. It has been interesting and revealing the way that she describes these songs to me after the fact.

For example, she asked me one day if she could listen to a song called “I try to do it all right,” and initially, I had no idea what she was talking about. She tried to describe it further: it was the “one that had the music like you play” in it. This only further obfuscated matters, but I became determined to figure out what she meant. Finally, she tried to sing it, and I was able to recognize the “pre-chorus” from Pressure by My Brightest Diamond.

Lead vocalist and songwriter Shara Worden only sings this line twice in the whole song. I thought it very interesting that she keyed into this relatively minor part, but it is a section in which the instruments fall away, leaving that text somewhat unaccompanied.  I was still unclear, however, as to what role she thought I was playing on the album. When we listened to it together, however, she pointed out a high flute part in the introduction that sounded, with a little imagination, like a shakuhachi, which I have played for her on an off at bedtime throughout her entire life.

Both of these descriptors were intriguing. In the first instance, she had a very clear recollection of a short, identifying piece of a relatively complicated song that she held in her memory. She used this as leverage into the structure of the song in its entirety, which she now knows pretty well (although she is being creative with some of the lyrics). The second descriptor was even more fascinating. It is normal to hear music as one big sound, so to pull a specific sound out of context as an identifier makes me kind of excited to imagine how she might be perceiving music.

Her interest in this song is particularly good because the whole album is really fantastic. It was brought to my attention quite a while ago by an ex-student (who also suggested Now, Now’s excellent Threads). It was on my radar for quite awhile, but the clincher came when I discovered that Earl Harvin was a contributing percussionist. I was pondering his incredible career arc as I was revisiting Ten Hands’ classic Kung Fu….That’s What I Like earlier this year, and his potential contributions made the album particularly alluring. His vigorous, distinctive drumming is immediately noticeable in Pressure, but also throughout the entire album.

Which is amazing. This is My Hand is complex and layered enough to keep my interest upon repeated listens, but also accessible enough for capture my daughter’s attention. My wife, on the other hand, has connected with the poetic nature of the album’s lyrics. She likes several tracks from the album, but in particular the title track.

So clearly, This is My Hand has emerged as not only one of my favorite albums, but as a family favorite. It’s now a standard listen on road trips. I’m sure to the outside observer, watching us listen to the album in the car would probably look exactly like you would expect, with lots of singing and worked-out choreography. Currently undocumented, of course, to protect our dignity to the public eye.

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