My most recent writing class explored various sounds as prompts. Jingle bells predictably led to some Christmas memories, as well as a description of a Native American pow wow, complete with Jingle Dancers. My grandmother's music box revealed that several class members had owned music boxes with a twirling ballerina on top -- while one had longed for one but received, instead, a practical winter coat.
There was some particularly fine writing - these folks are amazing at being given a prompt and in ten minutes' time coming up with funny/ poignant/ philosophical responses.
After the jingle bells, the music box, the mooing cow, and the passing train, I asked them to write about either the sound of music or the music of sound. And they did.
One woman began her piece by stating that she hated the musical The Sound of Music. Another agreed with her and they slapped hands in sisterhood. Eventually we came to a third woman who sheepishly admitted that in her youth she had loved the musical and played the record as she was going to sleep, singing along with the various roles.
And I remembered myself -- high school age, playing myself to sleep with Les Baxter's Ritual of the Savage -- exotic jungle music which I accessorized with a sprig of confederate jasmine on my pillow, allowing me to inhale its heady scent as my room throbbed to the music of drums and flutes and woodwinds.
I hadn't thought of this for years, but when I went on an online search for Les Baxter albums, the cover jumped out at me, familiar as a well-loved book.
I also varied the ritual now and then by listening to Bolero, and imagining myself as one of the ice dancers I'd seen years before in a performance of the piece as the climax of a Holiday on Ice show. Exotic Asian beauties glided about, whishing together sheaves of rice and a gilded, half-naked hunk of a skater exploded into their midst, choosing a maiden and whirling her with an intensity that left all of us weak.
I think there was also a volcano.