Elusive, Intangible

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Author's Notes: Not betaed.

Tony loves music. It has a quality to it that reminds him of sex: a sense of beginning and ending, a slow rise to a crescendo, a changeable but real rhythm. The two have entwined in his mind until he can barely think of one without the other.

The genre hardly matters, although there are some styles he spends more time on than others. There's something special about every variety: the ear bursting range and swelling emotion of opera, the improvisational nature of jazz, the irresistible rhythms of rock 'n roll, the sharp, crisp precision of techno.

His stereo system is even larger and more expensive than his TV and it comes equipped with everything from a turntable to an eight track to a cassette player to a CD changer to a hard drive. Tony has the best sound reproduction money can buy and fit into an apartment and he isn't about to limit himself just because the medium isn't popular anymore. He's intensely aware of each and every song in his collection, even if sometimes the melodies of one slide into those of another in his memory.

He's been building his collection for years, ever since he was all of ten years old and it suddenly struck him that his then-meager stack of records and tapes was the most fantastic thing he owned. You could dance to it or sing along with it or drown out your parents' voices under it. It had energy and excitement and life. Tony had wanted to bring forth some of that passion with his own hands.

But there was no joy in the hard edge of his piano teacher's ruler and no pleasure in hammering out endless scales and stilted renditions of songs he could hear played so much more skillfully in his head. There was only discipline and rules and painful corrections.

Maybe it was the instrument, Tony reasoned. Maybe it had to be something special, particularly suited to you. So he picked up the guitar and this time he chose his own teacher and his own songs. He fought with slides and strings and picks. He played until his fingers blistered and the blisters broke and calluses formed. He practiced until he could play any piece of sheet music you set down in front of him through without a single mistake.

In the end, for all his work, there was still something missing. Some intangible element that raised mere sound up to the level of real music.

Tony couldn't help but wonder if there was something wrong with him. Something missing or broken or incomplete, because all he could get from his hands was noise. Coherent noise, but just noise. Not music.

He gave up on the guitar and upgraded his stereo system instead. If he couldn't find that depth in himself then he would enjoy the best possible echo of it.