I saw a post on Facebook asking people “what kept you alive when nothing seem able to save you”. That post triggered a memory of me, in my office, not long after my husband had passed on, sitting at the computer, headphones on and the volume really loud so that I didn’t have to listen to, or deal with, any of the crap going on around me.
Symphony of Sorrowful Songs by Gorecki was one of only two things that kept me on this earth when my husband died. It starts so softly and gently that you don’t really hear anything for the first 2 minutes, and then it just builds and builds.
I’ve you’ve not listened to this, the title may be enough to make you wonder why, when you are feeling at the absolute bottom of the dung hill would you want to wallow in deep, dark music? Those who turn to music to help them get through the hard times will understand – the music you listen to can be a reflection of the emotions you have rolling through you when are either unable to fully express those emotions, or have pushed them down so deep that you can’t express them. It’s like doing mirror work; delving deep knowing that once you hit rock bottom, the only way is up.
When you find that one track and you keep playing it over and over again, you may start to recognise the beauty and grace in the flow of the melody and you find that even though the music almost always brings tears, they are cleansing. This was my ‘bling’ in one of the dark times of my life. I literally wallowed in this music for several months. It became like a drug, and without it I could not exist. It seemed to be the only thing around me that reflected back the emotions I tried to hide from the world and that often threatened to drown me.
Symphony of Sorrowful songs by Gorecki is like a sunrise over the ocean. Living in the darkness is not comfortable. It can be scary, especially when the future is unknown, but like the sunrise, this music guides you through your personal dark nights and shows you a promise of peace.
As you listen, there is the quiet expectation of the time before the first hint of light becomes visible. The darkest place. It’s quiet. So quiet and deep that you barely register the sound, but bit by bit like the pre-dawn glow of the sunrise, the music starts to infiltrate, it starts to make itself known to your awareness.
It’s heavy, dark, and it feels like a very familiar reflection of the darkness and struggle in your own heart. But like that sunrise, it keeps coming on in waves that bring the inevitable lifting of the darkness. As the waves of music swell, for a moment you recognise the emotion that you hold under tight control, so that to others, you show not the sadness that is your constant companion, but rather your hard-won strength, and that even though you may be struggling right now, you will survive this. It is a recognition of how you get through your day – the heaviness pushed to the background and overlaid with something lighter that allows you to do what you need to do in order to simply exist.
And still this music climbs, bringing the Energy from your Root Chakra, through Sacral, Solar Plexus and coming up to your Heart Chakra, bringing the promise of eventual Peace. Your heart rate starts to slow and, as with the sound of the ocean waves, you allow the music to wash over you, relaxing physical tension, washing away the false-front you hold like a shield against the world, and allowing a release of emotion.
Then the sun peaks over the horizon – a moment of stillness, before the Soprano voice joins in and so perfectly expresses what is in your heart, building and building until you feel almost overwhelmed. The waves of Energy keep climbing and you recognise the cycles that occur in life: the humdrum repetitions that sometimes provide a lifeline; the almost-too intense times when you simply don’t know what to do and you just exist through the tempest; the quieter times where you can pause and take a breath. These cycles? They are Life. The sun is risen.
In writing this, I sat and listened to this music for the first time in years. Those life cycles have moved on and although there has been much drama, pain and loss, there has also been much joy and love and laughter. Life has been lived. I still feel the sunrise in this music and as it builds and grows it takes me to different heights. I have a different starting-point – I’m no longer in the well of despair and am not listening from the dark depths of grief. I still feel it in my Heart Chakra, but this is where it starts, not where it grows to. That promise of peace has been realised and I am now feeling deeper into the emotion of the composer. I don’t know his story, but this piece was written from the heart. And it is beautiful.
This is a link to this album. I’d love to hear your thoughts…..