It's been a reasonably long-held belief of mine that life could be more interesting if we had our own soundtracks. I recall being castigated by my future ex-girlfriend at one point for attempting this experiment by the use of a battery-powered ghettoblaster and a variety of soundtrack tapes, and I'd alter my mood/mode of behaviour to suit the music. The most dramatic example being wandering up the corridor of The Really Nifty Internet Company with the Star Trek:Generations soundtrack going. It was a particularly exciting part of the film, where I think Klingons were involved, and the music motivated me to do ninja rolls up the corridor, hiding behind the large curtains and ducking vigorously from one side to the other in anticipation of the clearly dramatic event which was about to take place. In true Klingon style, the threat appeared unexpectedly, and while no de-cloaking took place, I did suffer a fairly rigid & unexpected blow over the back of my head from said nonplussed female.
That experiment concluded when the batteries in the stereo ran out, largely due to lack of research funds.
This morning however I had a sudden resurgence of interest in the project, during my trip to work. One of the problems with providing a soundtrack for your life is that you don't really know what type of music to put on, as you don't know quite what's going to happen next. But sometimes it just serendipitously works.
This morning I was walking to Mornington Crescent tube with my mp3 player cranked up, and elected to switch the tunes over from the Propellerheads (decksandrumandrockandroll being one of the coolest albums ever), and settled on Gabriel Faure's “Requiem” as the piece de jour.
For the first part of the journey it was just like listening to music on the tube, but after changing at Warren Street things went slightly different. As I boarded the train I was looking mainly at my feet, to make sure I wasn't reading on anyone's stuff, and the instant I looked up, the Libera Me section of the work started up.
I swear you couldn't recreate this if you tried, but the doleful baritone solo seemed to give every suggestion of movement (not that there's much on a Victoria Line tube at that time of morning) a slow-motion quality.
The carriage almost appeared in monochrome – everyone's clothing was either grey or black, with only one red hat marking contrast. The light blue poles of the carriage and the yellowy interior blended with whites and greys, and the whole scene took on a very “last train to Auschwitz” feel – although again it may have been because the colour scheme reminded me of Schindler's List.
Still, it was all quite powerful – there was one woman looking up from her seat across the carriage and up towards the quarter panel. I knew that she was merely reading one of the advertising placards (which are placed throughout tube trains so that English people don't have to make eye contact), however with the lugubrious baritone backing it gave her a sad, soulful appearance, like at any point a silent teardrop could roll from her eye and splash unnoticed on the floor below.
Then the train stopped, and as the doors opened the tumultuous “Dies Irae” section started, coinciding with my ejection from the stillness of the train into the maelstrom of human movement that is Victoria Station.
After my return to a world with colour, the illusion was dispelled and I was back to just listening to my mp3 player.
Still… weird, huh ?