Music Theory

June 13, 2011 at 12:05 PM (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

As I’ve said before, I have this weird PTSD thing about vocal pop songs written before 1993. I used to sing a great deal and sing well, and now I’m limited to those songs I’ve not heard before.

Not just one or two.  All of them.  When I hear them, or worse yet try to sing them, a sudden crying jag universally ensues.  I’ve tried repeated exposure to see if that limits it.  No,  in fact it makes it worse.

For the big band stuff, even the non vocal stuff gets me.  For that era, I think it’s because I really miss my grandparents.

Thankfully, classical or Jazz instrumentals do *not* provoke that response.  I have no idea why.  Thank God I’ve still got my Beethoven, Chopin, Holst,Debussy, Ravel, and even some Gershwin.

Then we get to the fifties and early sixties. I think about my parents.  They both had amazing potential, and my mom did some incredible amazing stuff.  But one suffered death-by-the bottle and the other is having serious difficulty right now.

I hear the fifties stuff, and get sad that neither got to do their best things and hang around for a long time.

Late sixties and seventies is more ‘conventional’ grief, I guess, wishing I was younger.  I also miss my cousin, one of my best friends throughout that decade, who passed away in 1998 after a long stretch of suffering.

And the eighties and nineties well, no one who has read much of my blogging over the last six years (Six years?  Jesus!) needs to guess why music from that decade or so is problematic.

My therapists and shrinks have puzzled over this.  They’ve seen a few songs create such a response in patients but never *every* one.

I’ve got a theory:

First, I’ve incidentally seen the latest research on ‘perfect pitch’ and it finds that it isn’t so much a gift, as the product of an astonishingly good memory.

And secondly as I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I  believe that myself and two other people I’ve met who have  cerebral palsy + high IQ’s + college degrees.  had to train ourselves ( in the era before laptops,  wordboards and and classroom aides) to remember a great deal of what teachers, instructors and professors said in class, since there was no way in hell we could write it down fast enough.  I’d bet money that if people studied those with CP who don’t have cognitive impairment, they’d see a pattern of excellent memory.


Ok those two things.  Then add to that the fact that my portion of bipolar, depression, anxiety has moved my emotions much closer to the surface than they were when I was a teen or early twentysomething.  And even at that time my emotions were pretty out there,  laugh.  I am more volatile than before,  more prone to irritability, anger, frustration,  anxiety, overexcitement than before.   I’m self aware about it,  and I do take one medication,  try,  and mostly manage to keep my emotions on a leash in professional settings and comfortable family or friend situations.

So if you add those three things together, maybe that’s it. When vocal music as a whole can push you into some vivid memory that you’d rather not relive, you might get emotional about it.  I have to reiterate:  I don’t force myself into that state on purpose…it occurs whether I’m ready for it or not.

And I’ve been puzzling about this…why do I keep my CD’s at least those prior to 1993?  I can’t sing them or listen to them (except for the instrumentals), so why do I keep them?  I don’t know.  I just can’t bring myself to get rid of them.

And now, since I’ve recently altered my life fairly drastically, even some of the songs since’ 93 put me in that same spot…because I do miss certain aspects of my life in the West (but I know that here is best right now.)

I have a question for the Universe:  “Just how many of my few remaining gifts do you plan on taking away soon, so I can get ready.”   Pisses me off.


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