I’m sitting under a kind of tree, what kind I don’t know. Perhaps that is why I can listen so deeply without tiring to its leaves and branches singing in the wind. Perhaps it is because there is no highway, no motors, to freeze the dimensions of the tree’s song into a flat repetitive plane of existance. Perhaps it is because there is no traffic to cover up the subtleties of it’s song that I can become such a willing audience.
Either way it’s song holds me in it’s sway with endless variations. The treetop sings, then the left then the right, swaying back and forth, and then the low branches with their closeup detail of leaves clattering, never the same, always shifting. The song comes from the weather, from large pressure changes in the sky passed down to local sworls, moving ever eastward over the huge flat plains. Its a song that is familiar but it never repeats. It grows and dimishes, sustains its intrigue. It has the seduction of an intimate story, the dramatic arc of a symphony, twists and turns of a good movie. What it does not do is freeze in place like the oming of a flouresent light, or the incessant repition of a diesel pump.
As our culture fills with looping machines that turn on and never turn off, as our nervous system adapts, so does our music. It is no longer built from the arcs of the wind, the surge of the storm, but the loops and fixed rhythms of machines. The sway of the drummer –– replaced by the drum machine. The imperfections of the string orchestra –– replaced by the digital keyboard. Even the fluctuations and emotions of the singer’s voice flattened into the synthetic auto-tuned robot.
We have lost the fear of the machine. It has turned to envy.