The old tale teller’s ploy: Where to begin? How to start? In the middle of the night or day you are the one. It’s always been music and never enough words to say it within or beyond. Profound dyslexia. Metaphor abounds. But no way into what the music is, was, does, reveals, conceals.

Ammiel and yours vaguely spend a late afternoon at The Musical Offering cafe in Berkeley. (“Ami” “El” = “friend/beloved of God” and ”David”, singer/psalmist, the Temple music director, in a delere. The music jones—Ammiel back from a blitzkrieg at Amoeba in San Francisco and David fresh from a quick taste at Berkeley’s mothership Amoeba, backpacks stuffed with CDs zagging and zigging across crashed empires of diaspora and meltdown. If you’re in the predatory imperial mode, one can buy and therefore own any CD art wafer from too many disasters of class warfare, racism, pimping between the two lines of defeat, exploiting the exploiters.

When we talk of music it is about love impossible to speak of.

Music kabbalah, the black and white of it, the page, the letters, notes, the ink, its absence its presence.

Describing the revolutionary harmonic shift wrought by Debussy, Ravel, Satie, a jazz pianist said, “Yeah, they’re playing the black keys.”

The sounds made are colorless until pulled off the page, transcribed, not even trance-scribed, but blacked onto white onto black lines off the page. Like poetry, a writing first.

Like books, those boxed sets are a death hedge. Properbox, Definitive, Mosaic, JSP—investments in immortality. Can’t check out yet, split, quit it, if the book remains unread or a CD unheard.

Sounds, type, ineffable material of wake-up. Where one is and was inhabited with salamander ease and edge.

Where’s the mind the music unminds?

Who’s minding the store, the score? What gets away stays; what stays gets away.

“Not all sounds are musical,” writes H. Lowery.

“All sounds are music,” states Cage.

Corrosive crackles of 78s recycled onto CDs or vinyl LPs played into oblivion, whose grooves etched white as old dimestore acetates.

Penetrates psyche and soul and, like all mysteries, transforms the person receiving those sounds. Mysteries of sound, rhythm, voice; the mystery that can’t be described in words, as if the experience of music is indescribable. Like the poet confronting the mysteries of the world that he or she enters into. We try, but always with the sense that it eludes our words.

The ineffable is beyond words; music is beyond words.

The impossibility of music.

Originally Published: April 10th, 2013

David Meltzer was born in Rochester, New York, and raised in Brooklyn. He began his literary career during the San Francisco Beat and Berkeley Renaissance period in North Beach, California, and his work was included in the anthology, The New American Poetry 1945-1960. At the age of 20 he recorded...