On my train travels I was looking for some music to complement my active noise cancelling headphones to further reduce the background interruptions that are part and parcel of sitting in a carriage. There was only one file under the music folder which lasts for an hour and a half. It is labelled not by letters but by numbers, curious. Since there is no choice I double click the file. Nothing appears apart from a few crackles. I then click further along the timeline and hear a recorder orchestra. I know what the file is now. It is a recording I made of a concert that was performed over two years ago in my home town. A recording that I played in. A recording that features my now dead friend co-conducting. A recording that to my embarrassment, I set the levels too high on so that it is mired by a clipped distorted sound when the music gets loud.

The first piece comes to an end and I hear our last music conductor greeting the audience and telling them about the Schultz piece we just played. I am sad once again, not just for the loss of a lovely person, but of an imperfect recording. I continue to listen as another very much alive friend introduces the second piece by Bergman. Strange, I have no idea of what the programme comprises of though. Unlike the Schultz the Bergman is firmly imprinted in my memory because it is a modern piece which wasn’t always appreciated in the orchestra due to its rather unusual chords and challenging fingering. I can appreciate it more now from the audience point of view.

Do I like it? I think I do. Being a musician means I am connected to lots of music and to a certain extent, whether I like the piece or not is irrelevant because the connection remains. Playing the music, performing the music each adds another dimension that the audience doesn’t see. But there is also the practising and the rehearsals associated with that music which add further memories to the web of experience. To a certain extent, I forced myself to practise the piece. I can still recall the “dee-da dee-da da-da-dadum” phrase with its sharps and chromatic falls that rings out in the first part. I still have the memory my section struggling with it too. Hidden memories that make up part of my life.

A Palestrina piece next, which fits perfectly in this reverberation full, high vaulted church. It is stunning and I stare transfixed out of the window. I wonder what instrument I played? The low end is particularly sonorous in this piece. I guess we eight footed it. I can picture myself playing the subcontrabass but that may be my fantasy. It was the first concert that “the beast” made an appearance in. I listen to the Palestrina again. Certain notes seem to gather the sound in and bloom in the piece. I can feel tears welling up, but not quite enough to break out.

Next are three movements from a John Hawkes’ symphony. Hawkes is a retired physicist turned composer but there is nothing scientific about the piece, I find it quite lovely. Unfortunately I have no memory of playing the first movement, nor the second, but the third triggers something. It’s a very little something though and seemed rather fleeting as the movement goes on. How can I forget this one? Modern usually means a challenge, strange. Oh dear, I am finding I want to move onto another piece, I am just not engaging with Hawkes. I wonder if the missing movements would change that or a different recording?

Back in time to a three choir piece. This one seems more familiar. There are more layers going on here and I feel the lower instruments are getting heard against the top instruments rather than being lost in a background role that seemed to be happening in the Hawkes piece. I love how the choirs split and combine in different ways, suddenly stopping and gathering into a unison before going their separate ways again. Just when I am wondering if I am biased by “old” music, along comes a piece composed by Marg Hall four years previously. It is very different, modern but melodic. This music is much more familiar to me, it is very enjoyable, light and fun. I am glad I can remember something. The concert finishes with a  “big band” sound by a piece by Tetchner but I am not sure I have heard that correctly. It sounds like fun music to play but again I don’t remember.

So where do these reminiscences leave me? Well just south of Newcastle physically, but more thoughtfully I am puzzled by what I remember and what I don’t remember. I wrote about being connected to the music of Bergman, but the same should apply to all the pieces played in the concert and yet my recall of some of them is non-existent. Why did this happen? On a wider note, music is both challenging and comforting to play, and for this Aspie’s mind a great way of focussing the mind, my mind, onto a single activity. But it isn’t always like that. Getting to a point where a piece can be performed can be overwhelming at times. Perhaps in the end, music is a metaphor for life but in a more contained environment. With challenge comes reward and looking back on this recording, if nothing else, I can take pride in being a part of a really rather good concert. Good job I have a recording though.