Fall in Love with Me When I Cadence on III
Being a composition major, I would frequently find myself in the practice suites late at night, excitedly claiming the grand piano in Room A (known commonly as “the King of Steinways”) for my dearest new pieces. For months, I would enter through those creaky oak doors, transported into the serene, almost hypnotizing atmosphere with the low murmur of the heaters and the orangey blush of the incandescent bulbs. In the absence of any fellow creatures, it would be easy to draw a veil about myself as if ascending into a dream-world where there were no sights, smells, or tastes – just the notes wafting and echoing through the air like fairies over a fragrant pond.
It was one starless evening in the depths of winter when, per routine, I turned the brass handle so polished through use, only to be struck by a sound not my own. Even at this ungodly hour of Diana’s dance, some violinist had decided to coax forth the virtuosic notes of Sarasate: the ever-famous Zigeunerweisen – the Gypsy Airs. Intrigued, I pressed forward on tippy-toes until I stood just in front of the source – Room F, whose small upright piano certainly afforded much greater freedom to a string musician. The texture of the glass was certainly teasing me today, for I could only make out a faint silhouette, a splash of gray on a daffodil backdrop – an anti-candle, if you will; and like a flame did the bow waver up and down and the body sway from side to side.
After the opening cadenza-esque material, the performer moved into the transitional phrases – a simple, unadorned melody that repeated in tandem with very little modification. As a composer, of course, I listened the harmonies carefully, taking the opportunity to analyze how each effect was created. But all of a sudden, the Roman Numerals faded from the score in my mind, and I began to tremble as if filled with a growing flower aching to bloom forth. Never before had I felt an impulsive inspiration of this magnitude, and I was sure that there was more to it than just the notes. Something fundamental had entered my ears and set off a resonance that would not leave me.
So deeply troubled, I left my post abruptly, returning to my compositional studies. When the violinist finally walked past my room, I rested completely still in front of the keys, staring only at the wooden panel that held my numerous leaves of manuscript paper. What was I afraid of? Saying something stupid? Finding out who it was?
I pondered these questions for a good five minutes before I realized that it was not any fear at all, but love. Yet what could that song have had that would produce such a profound stirring in my heart – what element could masquerade itself so that I would respond as if to the voice of a human being, when in reality all I had heard was the reverberation of a wooden box?
But even as I chastised myself for considering this feeling of musical affection love, I could not help but react in the same way as I would towards any romantic influx, and I spent the entire next day wondering who it might have been playing in Room F past midnight on a starless winter night. It was painful to sit through rehearsals and classes that I once enjoyed so much; my mind could compose no chords but those ethereal progressions that had engraved themselves in my memories.
And so that evening, I walked out into the frigid winter air, glove-clad hands buried deep in my coat pockets. The route seemed longer than usual, and it was past eleven o’clock when I arrived at the front steps of the ancient music building. With childish hesitation, I approached the time-worn door, so unchanging with its furrowed fibers and uneven finish. I took one careful step forward, then another, then broke into a sprint, stopping myself inelegantly in front of Room F.
But the only melody I could hear was the echo of that moment twenty-four hours ago. In the loneliness of the starless night, I sat down in the hall, forgetting about my life, my songs, my worries. I just sat there, legs crossed, hands folded, eyes stinging from tears when I realized, when I knew that the beautiful melodies that I heard last night would never grace these halls again.