The story of me and ‘The Conductor’s Wife’
by Barbara Maria Rathbone
I thought I would re-arrange things a bit and introduce myself properly. It might help explain what this blog is about, and people do ask! I am not just a blogger, I am not just a writer, I am a puzzle like us all, and I found my way here. This will all be mainly about music, and some of the ideas that spin out of trying to understand it and the world it illuminates (light again – favourite metaphor!), and how it got me here and why… I’ll save telling you about Pellegrina for another day!
I am a classical musician (soprano and pianist) and writer. I have synaesthesia, a quirk of sensory perception where two or more senses overlap. In my case I experience spatial awareness of units of time, and see letters and numbers both in three dimensional space and in colour. I also cognitively associate musical keys with different colours and ‘see’ colour on hearing music as well as experiencing physical sensations such a pins and needles and changes in temperature. It is something we are all born with but the development of the neural pathways in childhood eradicate it in most. It is like a mnemonic – the way an infant might order a strange new world, where light, sound and scent are indistinguishable – an animal cry might be deep claret red, a mother’s sigh the colour and texture of ripe nectarine flesh.
I write, I have always written. I have always lived somewhat inside the music that surrounds me and that is why I write and why it feels so natural to write about it, when I really do see the world through the music that kisses my limbs in the darkness. Music enchants and animates this inner world so that the words fly around me like coloured mosaic pieces and I am bidden to capture them. My novel, ‘The Conductor’s Wife’, is the result of a long journey that was not always as facile as it should have been. Yet, it wouldn’t be half the story it is without the pricks of fate that near toppled me over at several junctures. It was also fun and full of those synchronicities, at times poignant, at times delicious, that shunt us onward towards a blistering horizon of hope, where there is some small meaning in all this we call living. Therefore, my book is a fictional adventure into my own past life, a roman à clef, and hopefully a truthful depiction of the inner life of a synaesthete and musician. I hope it will change my life, well, it already has…