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Intuocean

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When I watch a movie with my brother that I haven't seen and he has, I like to troll him and throw out wild guesses about the ending. I’m "that asshole who ruins it for everyone," we joke. I do it mostly to watch him squirm as he keeps a straight face and refuses to give anything away. He knows that if I catch the slightest involuntary eyebrow-raise or grin, I'll feel validated in my prediction. It's an exercise in secret keeping between two siblings who often approach telepathy. The movie starts and I take one look at the shifty guy in the corner. "Mm, not him," I say. "That 'demure,' pretty one next to him did it." And I’m right. I'm always right. It's one of my superpowers (that, and picking out the exact right size tupperware for dinner's leftovers). But in the moment right after I’m sure, my gut fogs. Who am I to know things? How could I? And I take it back. "Oh that can't be right." Because how embarrassing it is to be wrong! (As a woman well-socialized in patriarchal expectations that I take up less intellectual space, I have to consider here that it may also be embarrassing to be right. At least in a general sense, if not with my sweet feminist brother.) He glances at me knowingly, holding the answer to my discarded theory, which slowly comes together again over the next few hours. The movie ends and we laugh. "I was right all along!" He knew I was; I knew I was. And yet, I judged my knowing into passivity. Even in this fabricated film-world where it doesn't mean anything, I doubted that I'd picked up on some subtlety I couldn't name. Some hint that told the future. When this doubting happens, an ambiguous sense of guilt takes hold in my gut. There's a part of myself that just doesn't trust me.

 

When I learned how to improvise on a piano, it required an unlearning of how I allow myself to know. In (my beginner's understanding of) improvisation, all that matters is keeping time and staying within the key. As long as I follow that, my hands can go everywhere. Given these few constraints, the improvised notes I began to produce required that I unlearn how music is "supposed" to sound. There was no script. I could follow basic musical conventions, or not. It was a permission I realized I had always been seeking. A forgetting that I ever needed that script. For me, the act of improvising necessarily replaces logic and practicality with acceptance and a sort of spaced-out nonjudgment. What flows flows. Often I can't predict what materializes. But materialize it does. In the earliest stages of this new reality I remember wondering how my depths would feel on their way out of me, through fingers and into song. "What do I sound like?"

 

The song I wanted to write about intuition is very different than the one that happened. The song I wanted to write, I tried meticulously mapping out on paper. I'm new to it, to writing. I stumble my way through chord progressions that sound "right"; I calm the part of me that screams "You have no capital-T Training!"; and I try not to care so much (about outcome, about message, about process). I let the songs be little sound diaries of a time and a place and a feeling—of me and for me. To share them feels absurdly self-celebratory and—my meddling mind tries to convince me—is undeserved. Or worse, embarrassing.

 

So in writing what I wanted this song to be, in my efforts to outline my song's "message" according to  practical formula, I distracted myself from saying anything. To force a feeling has never been my most effective method of producing something creative. Inspiration may be born of something tangible, but the translation of inner world to outer is often not so easily pinpointed. Or channeled. I may try to say something specific, but in the process of saying it, I hear what comes out of me is altogether different. It's important to know when to listen.

 

And so, after I brainstormed and mapped and trudged and planned, it turns out there was something else I needed to say instead. Something much more immediate, much more automatic.

 

Music is a communing with myself in a language I don't realize I already know. A language I have always spoken and will always speak, even when I can't hear myself.

 

 

 

 

ABOUT THE ARTIST

 

When Cassidy Villeneuve is not busy collecting shells, craft supplies, and sound effects — she is making music, sculpting, cold-ocean swimming, or silly dancing. She graduated from Scripps College in Southern California, where she studied Italian and all things humanities. She misses the hot desert wind.

 

Cassidy is co-founding editor-in-chief of SIREN and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

 

 

Copyright belongs to the creator. .

SIREN

Surprise me...
Surprise me...

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Surprise me...

SIREN

Surprise me...