There is music and there is rhythm in all things if we only care to hear it. Sound shapes life, it lets us know what something is, what we fear and what we love. It has the power to transform the world around us, or at the very least our perception of it. Sound communicates with our minds and our hearts. There are sounds that immediately make us feel safe and at peace, those that remind us of the people and places whose memories sat dormant in our minds, until one day awakened by the sound [of] …
Home for a while was grandparents sizzle of dumplings, West Indian cricket wicket stump splintering in an instant replay and old records I’d spin, whose rhythms would bounce and shout stories of a Rasta who lived up a hill. London lived outside and when it was time we’d listen out for the sound of big wheels and brakes, soft shoes and hard shoes dancing on concrete. Zippers pulled up to keep out the cold, velcro book bags open and close. We played the parts that school children learn and with it rang out a duet, arrival and departure time again until old enough those sounds would be mine alone.
School was an orchestra we all got to play in. Beads and shells mimicked small waves when tossed about in braids that hung loosely around the shoulders. Bouncy balls hit the concrete walls of the playground barely audible over sounds of ecstatic laughter. Steel pans, gospel voices, samba band and bits in between, those two music rooms kicked off a musical and spiritual education. The flute was my instrument of choice as I learnt how breath turns into music when passing through vessels of human imagination. We were living in a special time where we could express the songs that were within us.
Today at around 4pm you’ll hear the voices in the street getting younger, their high pitched dissonance teasing each other into counter point melodies. Hanging outside shops whose doors ring shut one after the other; ‘only two school children at a time.’ The latest songs echo from mobile phones or buzz away in ears where conversations are still a priority in groups of four or more, talking over, under and beside each other they recite in song the day’s best bits and the weekend ahead.
This street has a pulse, let me describe it to you.
It’s the street I have known the longest, every high street is shaped by the people who live on or near it. Otherwise it is shaped by bureaucracy, the market and it only becomes what you’d expect from it and nothing more.
This street is much different:
quietly the sound begins to build as people rushing, flying, passing, bumping into one another, nearly missing. Plastic bags rumple and slap against jackets that Shhhh! you when you brush past them. The orchestra prepares. In the distance a holy song, a preachers melody through megaphone, never the same person twice. They sing of sinners and redemption, side stepping through the seasons, gravel and hoarse from serving audiences who glance sideways. The speakers strain at intense proclamations, this is the preachers corner, outside church steps, down your street and in the square.