It suddenly struck me this morning: I  live with melody and Himself with words: all our communications based on two completely different premises or: the same song, different versions. I'm Romantic Classical, he is more Rock 'n Roll.

Himself and I had one of those really stupid arguments the other day, ending in my usual cry: "you SOUND so impatient/cross/unkind/negative". This is 47 years of marriage we're talking about, right? One might have thought he would learn to 'speak to me in dulcet tones' as my parents used to joke. OR: I might have learned to listen to what he is saying and not just how he says it.

Philosophers in Concert
When everybody else, and I mean EVERYBODY, was and is muttering, mumbling and quoting Leonard Cohen, that Morrison person and a whole bunch of other singer-songwriter-philosophers, I was and am humming a tune. Ask me the name of a song or performer and I will look vague. Hum a tune and I can sing along. Melody takes over, always. 3 notes of a song and I am gone, lost to everything but the magic of melody. I start weeping copiously as soon as a minor chord sounds. My father roared with laughter at the words of the opera arias my mother and I wept through. Who cares that the libretto is stupid, dumb or silly as long as it sounds nice...

Murder most Melodious
This morning I realised that there is a whole world, a whole life, of attitude and misunderstandings hanging on the tail of being melody-obsessed. The French say: 'c'est le ton qui fait la musique'. So you can say whatever you like, as long as it is enunciated clearly, sweetly and in civilized tones. What melody did to me, was to condition me to react to the sound of the words and not the words themselves:  you can lull me into compliance as long as you say it nicely. 'Darling, won't you please go and murder the President of Far-Away? You'd make me soooo happy!" And off I toddle, machete in hand, to nicely chop off his head. Humming Mozart.      


What to say and how to say it 
Strangely enough, I do know that not everyone is musical. Not everyone can carry a tune, appreciate a tune or even really hear a 'tune'. But they can cut out the buzz and hear the words: magical words, poetry, resistance, philosophy: they hear all that. For me, the voice is just an instrument to produce the melody.  I lalala-bedoop-bada-teedee along very happily. It's all about the sweetness of the sound.

So when somebody talks to me in less than dulcet tones I get upset. It grates on my ears, I listen for nuances and find them: MY very own perception of what their tone is saying. It's not so much WHAT you say as how you say it.

(One of the reasons my mother gave for going back to the church in later life: "They say nice things to one another". That church was a hotbed of intolerance and scandal but hey, they said it nicely!)                                                                   

No wonder we all get into trouble on a regular basis: we all have our own, personal melody we react to and if you and I are not singing the same song it becomes noise.

The Whole Song
The other day I vowed to start listening to other people better. This insight about melody brings me a step closer to actually hearing what they are saying. The French are wrong (yay) it is NOT only the tone that makes the music. Sometimes we will hear dissonants and clashes and bangs but we really need to listen to WHAT the other is trying to say, be it poetically or gruffly or screaming. Be it political or personal. We need to listen to the whole song.