I felt haunted by a monumental sense of failure, of aborted struggle and lost time.

I set out to write an exploration of music and its relation to the science of time. Music itself embodies time, shaping our sense of its passage through patterns of rhythm and harmony, melody and form. We feel that embodiment whenever we witness an orchestra’s collective sway and sigh to the movement of a baton, or measure a long car ride by the playlist of songs we’ve run through; every time we feel moved by music to dance; when we find, as we begin dancing, that we know intuitively how to take the rhythm into our bodies, that we are somehow sure of when and how the next beat will fall. Surely, I thought, there must be a scientific reason behind that innately human sense of embodied time, a way of grounding our musical intuition in physics and biology, if not completely quantifying it. But I also wanted to write about music because it has shaped the time of my own life more than almost anything else. I have played the violin for nearly twenty years, practicing five or six hours a day for most of them, because all I wanted was to become a soloist. When I realized in my early twenties that this never would be—and never had been—a possibility for me, I began to question why I had wasted so much time on music at all. I stopped playing for a while, and though I eventually picked it up again I no longer felt the same fire or ambition. Instead I felt haunted by a monumental sense of failure, of aborted struggle and lost time. Not only had the effort and sacrifice of the past all been for naught, but the future I had planned from that past seemed obliterated, too.

Natalie Hodges, from Prelude in “Uncommon Measure. A Journey Through Music, Performance, and the Science of Time” (Bellevue Literary Press, March 22, 2022)


This, is failure?


NY Times Book Review: The Violinist Natalie Hodges Writes About Her Devotion to Music & 12 Books We Recommend This Week (April 7, 2022)

Comments

  1. Wow!
    If that’s failure we are all in trouble. 😬
    She is amazing. 👏

    Liked by 1 person

  2. this is a perfect example of where things overlap in life and how our perspective is forced to shift and change with time, circumstance, and life experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gosh, I hope she grows out of her self criticism, and allows herself to shine.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Would that she saw herself as we do…Music has been a loyal and constant accompaniment to my life – and when I realized that my plans to be the next Streisand were folly, it was music that soothed me. She is so talented, and her violin breathes with her…may she never stop and may she derive solace from each strike of the bow…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Beautiful. Your comment reminds me of another passage in her book:

      “I’d forgotten the beauty of the D major section, the way everything sounds present, everything feels alive. It’s the one moment of respite from memory in the entire piece, the way you can be taken out of grief, even momentarily, by something beautiful: the sight of a green hill after rain, the blue light from a stained-glass window, the voice of a violin. Maybe this is where I can start, how I can find my way back in: not by going back to the beginning, to beat my head against the familiar discouragement and despair, but to the hope for some kind of grace as I cycle back in the perpetual chaconne of memory, a negotiation and reconciliation leading to some moments when just playing itself will be enough. And so I find the notch of the D major chord with my left hand, place my bow on the strings, and feel forward for the notes to come.”

      — Natalie Hodges, Uncommon Measure. A Journey Through Music, Performance, and the Science of Time (Bellevue Literary Press, March 22, 2022)

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Beautifully written. A poignant example of life’s struggle.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Music – the soul’s balm!! … “Natalie Hodges, from Prelude in “Uncommon Measure. A Journey Through Music, Performance, and the Science of Time” (Bellevue Literary Press, March 22, 2022).”

    Like

  7. If that’s failure, where does it leave the rest of us?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Christie says:

    “Instead I felt haunted by a monumental sense of failure, of aborted struggle and lost time” for her to feel that way -she was grieving…which is a shame…such is accomplished…she’s grown much in this journey of life…and at such a young age…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Her words, like her music, are utterly sublime. I am reminded of how so many people struggle to recognize that what is within each of us should match what is on the outside. In other words, the soul knows of our value and worth, yet our human side often does not. Wish I could put a huge spotlight (literally and figuratively) on this dear soul. Thank you, David. Cher xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

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