Music speaks to me

I had a go at responding to Tremaine L. Loadholt’s One-Lined Poem: Music.

I started thinking of the new show coming to Netflix, about the origins of hip-hop. And I got to thinking about music as a vessel for our thoughts, and our bodies as vessels for music. I was thinking about music as the way people tell their stories when their voices are silenced. I was thinking about how music speaks to us, and through us, and we speak through music.

And I was thinking about what that means for me, because when I say music speaks to me, I mean it quite literally. All my life, I have heard words in music.

When I was studying music, people would sometimes say, ‘Oh, I didn’t realise that piece had words.’ And I’d think, they all have words, but I’d smile and nod and pretend my music workbooks didn’t all look like this:


The sheet music is taken from Exercise 29 from Standard of Excellence Book 2 for Alto Saxophone (1993) by Bruce Pearson, published by Neil A. Kjos Music Company. The words are what I heard when I played this piece on my saxophone.

Lyrics (1996)

When I think of you, all I do is see the stars of night,
and when I stand alone in the darkness, I see your light.

But can’t you see, you’re out of reach,
only a dim shape beyond the darkness of the night,
darkness in my soul — soon you will be out of sight.

When I think of you, all I do is see the stars of night,
and when I stand alone in the darkness, I see your light.


But then, maybe everyone means the same thing, when they say that music speaks to them; maybe everyone means that music has a voice and it uses its words clearly.

Does music speak to you? If so, does it use words?