Music is incredibly important to me. It serves me in life in so many ways from being the fundamental fuel for my creative fires to one of the key components of nearly every close friendship I have, including that of my wife who first bonded with me over shared experiences in our own youth concert attendance at venerable halls like Toad’s Place in New Haven.
As I take this next step in life into fatherhood it only seems natural to want to share music with my offspring. After all it was my parents who helped craft the music nerd I came to be. But it is more than this that drives my desire to share this with my young padawan.
Beyond the reams of research that speak about the exposure to music at a young age and its effects on everything from a person’s grades to their lifetime earnings to their ability to act with both empathy and passion there’s a few emerging thoughts on the prenatal effects to musical exposure.
There is plenty of research to suggest that babies exposed to sound in the womb are affected by the experience. Traditionally the research looked at the mother’s speech and correlated differences in amount of speaking, tone of voice and speech patterns such as vocabulary during the third trimester on it’s effect on very early childhood development. More recently studies looked at general ambient noise, mostly during very late term and the possible effects both in-utero on behavior and post-birth again on early childhood development. <!–more–>However, within the last few years researchers in Sweden, Canada and the United States have shown with between 15 and 10 weeks remaining babies can begin to feel and subsequently hear sounds in a processable manner and the tests went beyond that of just the mother’s voice or ambient noise to specifically look at directed sound such as music specifically amplified to the mother’s belly.
The research is still in its infancy, pardon the pun, but it makes logical sense for the fetus to begin “learning,” if you chose to call it such, before breaching Earth’s oxygen. And, it is with this knowledge we’re beginning our own mini-concerts for the little one. I hope, throughout the coming weeks and months I hope to be able to catalog much of what the listening is and today is the first installment.
Dear Padawan, these first two songs were the songs that helped define the most important day in your mom and my life previous to you coming into it, our wedding. There were other songs that crossed my mind at first, but these seemed to make the most sense to begin with and will be two of the one’s we will likely come back to again, and again, because they deserve that attention.
Fireflight “Wrapped in your arms” – this was your mom and my first dance at our wedding. The lyrics open with “Is this the whole picture, Or is it just the start?” I wonder this about life quite often and at every new juncture with your mom and I especially it happens. Nothing is ever as it seems and with every change and challenge we take on it offers the possibility for something new and special to happen. As the song continues it says, “I used to try and walk alone, But I’ve begun to grow … I’m seeing so much clearer, Looking through your eyes,” and both lines again resonate quite clearly for both of us. When stridently independent and hard-headed individuals come together sometimes it is difficult to let the softer side of ourselves be exposed and trust and yet, despite our curmudgeony personalities and stubborn beliefs about ourselves we were able to not only find common ground but eventually come to a place where we could commit to :”I’m here to stay, Nothing can separate us, And I know, I’m ok, ou cradle me gently, Wrapped in your arms…. I’m home.” What I love about the song is two-fold. First, it is a song your mom and I both love but it was something she brought to me, rather than I to her. Being a music snob I don’t trust many people’s musical opinions but your mom is one of the few who with a more than moderate level of consistency is able to overcome that bias. Granted, I had introduced her to Fireflight but it was her who really was the inspiration for this to become our song. Second, despite being a prototypical hard rock power ballad it has some unique elements to it’s composition from the female lead vocals to the nuveau-country swagger drawn off jangly guitar strum to the layering of strings that move lightly prodding the folkish melody along to providing and epic swoon at about the two-minute mark to bridge the song rather than the traditional guitar masturbation.
Julia Kent “Dorval” this was your mom’s song to walk down the aisle. It is a bit of a non-traditional take on a processional song, but as you’ll come to learn, we are a non-traditional couple and our wedding was a very personal representation of that. I fell in love with Julia Kent following her career from the progressive ingenuity of Rasputina to the “contemporary classical” (a term I’m loath to write) and truly believe she composes some of the most beautiful songs built off some of the most beautiful layering of melodic concepts being made today. I don’t know why your mom selected this song in particular but it’s simply wonderful how it all comes together from the melodically percussive set up through the sweeping main lines. Long before it became out October song it actually reminded me of a sonic interpretation of autumn leaves in a breeze so it was ever so fitting that it took on the meaning it did that day.