I have two older sisters, ages 24 and 21. When we were kids, my parents devoted most of their time, energy and money to making us the world’s next musical prodigies.
My oldest sister had a brief stint with the piano, then with the trumpet and then with the trombone. As the instruments became louder and more elaborate — and my sister got worse — my parents decided that, for the sake of their sanity, my oldest sister should lay down the brass and focus her energy elsewhere. My other sister, however, took to the piano instantly.
She still plays to this day and can charm a crowd of people into thinking they are in Paris in the 1900s. Her success gave my parents more hope, and unfortunately for me, they stuck me at the seat of the piano against my will for another five years. Throughout all of those years, I fought the delicate nature of the piano and begged to play the drums.
Learning from the failed trombone lessons, my parents were not too keen on having our house invaded by such an obtrusive instrument. So I was relegated to “Ode to Joy” for most of my childhood, which ironically felt like it sucked all of the joy out of my life. In all honesty, the only thing I ever wanted to play was “Paperback Writer” by The Beatles, but that was not happening for the foreseeable future.
So, being the sneaky, loud-mouthed 12-year-old that I was, I said, “Forget that!” and traded in the music lessons for an iPod.
That iPod caused magical things to happen. I quickly fell in love with artists such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bloc Party and OK GO, all bands that, you will notice, emphasize drums over piano.
On April 13, 2012, my 16-year-old self went to her first concert. I definitely couldn’t play an instrument myself, but listening to professionals play them in a live setting gave me a feeling that I hadn’t had in a very long time — inspiration.
It wasn’t until this summer, however, that I acted on these feelings — (specifically those that came about after a wondrous disc jockey set by Jamie XX.) My first semester at Georgetown was spent partially in the art wing of the Walsh Building learning the nuances of graphic design programs. This summer, I put those skills to good use and created a sort of pop-art photo collage diary of my concert-going experiences of the last three years, something I still find myself playing around with on my computer today.
For as terrible as I am at creating pleasing sounds, I can, in fact, understand and recognize them. The thing I can create, however, is far more visual. My project took my understanding of sound and channeled it through my artistic capabilities. The result was a series of acidic, scattered, harmonic images, a cross-section of the complex tunes.
Allow me to explain my long anecdote about childhood musical oppression — music is inextricably connected to physical art. The faulty connection to music that I experienced as a child found reparation through my artistic interpretation of my concert-going experiences. I couldn’t play an instrument, but that would not stop me from appreciating others who could.
Catherine Summa is a sophomore in the College. Life in Art is a rotating column, appearing every other Friday.
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