By PAUL S. ANDREWS
President of Slavyanka Chorus in San Francisco/Email
Here’s one of the truly magical things about music.
Remember the movie Jurassic Park? If you do, then you remember that the plot of the movie revolves around DNA, the tiny chemical master plan for creating a whole you that exists in every cell of our bodies.
So in the movie, a team of scientists finds a mosquito millions of years old preserved in amber right next to a dinosaur skeleton. This mosquito had apparently been enjoying a little drink of dinosaur blood when it got stuck in a drop of amber (sort of like sticky honey). When 20th century scientists find that amber with the mosquito inside (now 65 million years dead) and look into its little mosquito tummy, guess what they find? Dinosaur blood cells! So they stick a needle into one of those cells, suck out the DNA chemical master plan for a dinosaur, transfer it into a living egg cell, and voila! The egg cell develops into a dinosaur that gets up and walks around in our own time!
Pretty amazing, eh? All they had was a tiny piece of DNA code — but that was enough to bring back to life one of the largest creatures ever to walk on the earth.
Now here’s the really interesting part. Think about a musical score. It’s a pattern too, just like DNA. In fact, it’s the musical master plan for describing a human experience that someone, maybe a long time ago, actually FELT. By writing down notes onto a musical score, that person encoded a lived experience into a pattern — a kind of DNA code for their own inner feeling and experience — that could travel across centuries to people far distant from them in time and space. People like us, for example.
And when we now take that score, and bring to it our own living energy as singers and players (like the egg, remember?), that original experience comes to life again! The sound that person encoded long ago is in our room now, maybe a thousand years later — and through that code of a musical score, we are connected again to the inner experience of a person who lived perhaps centuries before us, and maybe half way around the world. They might have been dead for a thousand years – but we can live for a moment inside their thought, their feeling, their mind and their heart.