Keys in the Dark

A genius is their own reward, eh? What of it??! Does that mean they’re supposed to be poor or something? You could say that geniuses are the pinnacle of nature (at least that’s what Spare would say — that humble soul!), that they carry the lead melodies of humanity.

In the totally amazing, gory and tragic Japanese manga/anime Berserk, one of the characters espouses the potent view that there are a select number of people who are like the “keys to the world”, existing outside of the common divisions of class, ethnicity and culture. They are responsible for the mass movements of mankind and culture, though they are not always celebrated openly. Their influence stretches deeply, through all the veins of human experience.

Yah, okay, I follow that. It’s fairly factual. Of course, a genius is exaggerated by their interaction with non-genii, ‘coz every single thing exists in contrast to something else. If a genius is like the lead melody in a song, it is remarkable in contrast to the chordal movements progressing underneath it. Without those, the melody might be beautiful, but it loses a lot of its color and character.

Yet still — those mass chordal movements, they are not as distinguished, beautiful or pristine. They are not as initially noticeable because they are slightly rugged and blend together. Isn’t that true when you hear a song? I mean, the average person, the first thing they notice — maybe the only thing — is the lead melody or the vocal melody. A lot of people do not hear anything else, such as the production, chord changes, compositional sense of pacing, etc. Even though the rhythmic properties are the necessary footsteps to realizing the pinnacle of the song.

The melodies, they are what we worship. Nobody venerates the simplest mundane tasks in a song. We approve and acknowledge and give credit where credit’s due, but that’s about it. Because the rhythm isn’t so glorious. And isn’t that the case with history and the gods? The melodies of humanity — the notable faces, stories and figures — we remember the glorious moments, the ones that stick out to us vibrantly, even though they can merely be cases of “standing on the shoulder(s) of giants”.

Perhaps it is as Einstein originally said, in a discussion with Rabindranath Tagore: line is older than color. And melody is older than harmony. Aren’t the oldest dreams of humanity, those tales of the gods — aren’t they the tales of heroic and mischievous deeds rather than tales of democracy and community? In other words, don’t we remember the old melodies instead of the old chord progressions?

The thing is, an insightful person can see the chord changes by the direction of the melody, or at least have a hint as to how it goes/went. “A fool sees not the same tree a wise man sees.”

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