This morning I was wrestled from sleep. I made it to the armchair in the living room and was pulling on my shoes, still breathing in the rhythm of slumber. I turned on the television to check the weather and was immediately caught. One of the new-age channels was broadcasting a music video for Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem. The Agnus Dei movement. It displayed various aerial shots of rainforest canopy inexplicably overlaid with quotes from existential philosophers.
It’s impossible to explain this with any grace. There are aspects of Fauré’s composition that do things to me. He builds moments of sound that resonate inside me not on a purely emotional level, but on something that affects the building blocks of my physical being. The Agnus Dei has a swirling upward effect between several voices that works like an oscilloscope, tuning the discordant fuzziness as if sweeping a dial back in forth. In a choral situation my body becomes like a tuning fork.
Then there’s another aspect. Towards the end there’s a reprise of the original theme, massive tons of trumpet and cello that fall from the sky while the choir sustains the most intense whisper. It’s at this point that I’ve had the most singular experience. If I sing this part I have to be careful not to close my eyes. I did that once and had the unsettling experience of knowing what it must feel like to be a wine glass when it’s resonant frequency is matched by a speaker. I found myself instantaneously at the center of a supernova, every particle propelled away across billions of miles in an instant. Every attractive charge in my physical manifestation broken at once. Arrows sprung toward the walls of the universe.
Needless to say, it was a strange way to wake up. I love these sounds, even as I acknowledge them to be possible agents of my destruction.