A few weeks ago I met with an old friend. She's a musician, and a bloody good one. She's also successful, which means her time is somewhat scarce and catch-ups are usually a juggling act of multi-tasking, rather than a relaxed pint or cuppa. On this occasion I sat in on an interview and an acoustic session for a podcast. The session took place in an ancient library; the sort with high ceilings and a balcony. On the windowsills sat busts of great thinkers. Islands of wooden bookshelves created a grid of words. I found a seat at a desk placed near a section of ancient Hebrew texts. I switched my phone off and sat as comfortably as possible, willing my entire being to be quiet. It's so much easier when surrounded by books. The instinct to soften all noise in their presence is one of humanity's more civilising traits. A warm silence results, even in a cold old library.
Two cameramen and a sound engineer spoke softly, readying everything. The countdown switched from vocals to hand gestures and my friend plucked and strummed and sang. The sound was soft and warm, even when the songs were sad. The music bounced off the books and this temple of words and silence changed and filled with harmonies. The quiet retreated for each song and filled the room between them.
I sat in awed silence, moved by the music in the library.
When it was over, she packed her guitar with little noise and greeted the next band with a hushed smile. The silence took the room again. The music was only borrowing it.