He listened more, pressing his ear against the cold stone of the square tower of Magdalen College. More music came to him, disembodied, but real nonetheless. Like fire, music is critical to our survival. It predates language and is more than a just frivolity that we often carelessly assign it to. Early Paleolithic humans invested a lot of effort into making music, probably because music touches us all at a very deep level. There is a possibility that music predates bipedal walking, and why not? To communicate, like to procreate, is a fundamental driver of life.
But what is music?
It is a vibration of molecules following a certain, beautiful, established pattern and this sequence of energised molecules works with neurotransmitters, opening up cortical circuitry in the brain, opening up our minds like a chemical flower blooming in its osteoblast cage.
From its source, music travels out spherically, directionless, losing energy along the way. Thus, music gets fainter the further away it gets from its source, until the energy dissipates to the extent that the molecules no longer hum to the beat. But in Alice’s world, these molecules reach him with their message across space and time, and the message that it carried was the beauty of the Magdalen College Choir singing Mount Up, My Soul. Mount Up, My Soul was a little known song, written by Joseph Straphan in 1834 that PW used to play on the piano in the veld to the tempo of crickets singing. How did she know?
“I loved you since forever, PW.”