Music Matters
Back in the nineties I created a lot of essays all loosely joined by A being about music B memoir related and C pertaining to how place affects creating music and how one listens. A mixed memoir called "Music Matters". Much of it I would heartily disown now , but not all - and who am I to judge now that the work is done, anyway? So I am resolved to dripping out the essays over the next few months, often without comment, sometimes with.
Geoffrey Armes
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B Tribe: Suave (1995)
Geoffrey Armes - 2020-07-09 22:45:47+02:00

I awake to the melody of gulls circling the beaches that overlook the Southern sea, swathed in the warm wind that gusts at the olive green and spiked vegetation. The wind is chording, harmonising it’s own tunes, or so I believe for a moment, but then I realise other work is coming through, that of people, their stringed instrument sounds lazily meld with the surf and cricket-loud sand; following a rasgueado strum. Shimmering in the heat the gypsy girl is the first to walk over the dunes, in jewelled sandals picking her way carefully, and she sings as she does so. She passes close, so close that I can see the moisture on her midriff and observe the texture in the embroidery of her blouse, and moved from within I extend my hand, but she passes on, through me, or I through her, I am not sure which it is. As she passes I join the chorus of her song, and it seems as if she hears this, for a frown pauses momentarily on her face, and her voice cracks, with a muttered aside. Then, from my vantage point above the waves I see the the gypsy guitarists; now I understand that rasgueado, sensual they sing too, over slowed beats ‘celli glower, and shakers held in brown hands glisten with wet sand. I would stir to join the throng, sing even, but cannot, logged with feeling I can only be still and watch, listen. At one point the harmony lifts me involuntarily to a sitting position, but even that returns to its point of origin; and I with it, fade to the ground, helpless once more. So it is, the song and the sand, until the dancers come, and at last I too can move, turning at first slow, almost like tableaux vivant, minor to major mode and back again, but then they move off in procession, and I stumble behind, following on their last footprints. I travel, as does everything else under that spell, up through the ancient and parched country to an Arabic citadel, and through the portcullised arch of the city wall to the courtyards within. Sun baked and basking, in this city something of the quiet of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan still resides, although the Ummah has long ago left. Now a male voice rises, claims all griefs to be his own, shouldering the year that has passed, and the girl dances in the dusty streets with him. As the truncated and austere beats continue, the singers fall silent, a dub breakdown in hiatus of another beginning.

At last, the rasgueado salute, at the start of another journey and the multitude of the town pour from their houses to play to the parched plains and, look! now the fields bear flowers; the gypsy song has rung in the season, as the guitarists circling cast sound to every horizon, like seed....

The light of the soul is the light of life and that light is love.... she says, suddenly standing in front of me.

I feel you,

she says.


I answer,

who so calmly sneak behind?

She is insouciant, and skips ahead ,

and teases,

oh yes,

I feel you,

and laughs, and works, all in one gesture as she sings the land free.

Once the southern sun descends, fire extinguished by the far off horizon she returns to town, her task done for the day. In the window boxes of the street are new flowers from the fecund fields, around the corners and alleyways the gypsies play on, but she is silent now, listening to their ancient melody; she dances away, smiling, and disappears into her house,

Through the ornate grill work on the window frame I can see her, she hums softly to a small child cradled in her arms, but this is for me too, I who perch and rest on a stone bank, who would cry if I could, because here in this village I have seen reason to hope, because here people live for each other it seems, just a little...

as night falls she takes a small bird in her hand, and hears the drummers marching away down the street the gypsies play guitar by a campfire

when they converge the bird

will fly again... she holds her hands up, and the moonlight glistens on her suddenly revealed bracelets as the sleeves fall back and the bird rises, the flutter of wings and the whirl of guitar strum all coursing on the wind beneath the stars

you’ll be back next year, she tells me, and the village recedes away, the moon looms larger and the clouds scud over the bright ocean. I wheel back towards the mountain horizon where I must be as she sings again her blessing, and her spell, and I know I will return....