Thursday, March 8, 2007

Visual, Aural or Oral?

Recently, in fact when I was in Colombo, someone asked me how I think of past incidents and which senses come to mind when I do. You may be as confused as I was at the time, but, as with so many things in my life, I bluffed my way through it and then thought about it afterwards, only to get more confused.

The conversation was about looking at good, bad and ugly memories and times in your life and analysing whether you would think of, say a bad memory, and recall the sights that you experienced, or whether your first thought would be the sounds you heard at the time or whatever. I think that was it. At the time I gave my answers but wasn't that sure I understood the question.

Now I do understand it. And it's made me think, a lot. This thinking thing can't be good for a bloke you know, it's all well and good for academics, writers, artistic types and intellectuals, but it's not healthy for people like me, people whose main love in life is hitting round wooden things and smiling.

I haven't yet come to a decent conclusion about bad experiences, although I suspect that I recollect those in a visual way. But, when I think of the best times of my life, the best moments and the best incidents, there's always a song there. All my good times have a soundtrack. Perhaps that's unsurprising to you, as you probably know I'm a musician (albeit only only drummer, not a proper musician of course!).

When I think of it there are so many songs, so many guitar solos, so many middle eights and so many intros that bring up great memories for me. I can listen to a snatch of a song and I'm instantly transported to a moment or a place.

There's a song called "Bliss" by Muse. It begins with a rolling arpeggio type of keyboard line that, for some reason, makes me peacefully excited. Within the first few listens I had associated the opening bars of it with watching the sunset at Galle Face Hotel. On my list of things to do (hardly any of which I actually achieved) when I was in Sri Lanka the other week was to go there and watch the sun go down with "Bliss" on the iPod. As it happens I never did it but it doesn't matter and may be a good thing. I did go there, I missed the sunset, didn't get a decent table and I didn't listen to "Bliss". Did it matter? No. The Galle Face Hotel is one of my favourite places in the world, it ranks right up there beside "sitting behind a drum kit".

The short couple of hours that I did get there, just me and just Colombo, are etched in my memory. Something about the beauty, the sounds, the sights and the feel that only Colombo can do for me. Isn't it a strange thing. I've lived in London all my life and it will always be home, yet Colombo has captured me totally. The LollyDJ wrote a post here that I can relate to. The more I get to know her idiosyncrasies the more I get attached and the more I yearn. I'm talking about Colombo, not the LollyDJ, nice as she is, although I've only met her the once.

Galle Face Hotel, Colombo, Bliss.

Bliss.

10 comments:

Darwin said...

I think most of mine are visual, for both good and bad memories. Smell also triggers certain memories. But I also tend to remember past incidents based on the emotion they invoked in me too, i.e. how carefree and happy I felt during that particular happy memory is what I remember it by, rather than sights, sounds and smells.

Anonymous said...

well darwin that means you are kinesthetic, which is all about feelings. you are either visual, auditory or kinesthetic or a combintation of all three.

Anonymous said...

AND...i think if you want to have a successful relationship with ..well anyone you need to figure out whether they are visual or aud or kinesthetic so you can adjust your behaviour accordingly - given that communication is not what you say, but how it is received...so for instance a woman that you are having a relationship if she is auditory, but you visually show her that you love her with flowers chocs whatever, without telling her you love her, she wont realise you do. And the flowers and chocs will have been for nothing.
Simple!

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Damn! - This is complicated stuff. Suppose the best thing would be to tell her that you're going to give her flowers! Then she'd hear it and see them.

Anonymous said...

clearly you rarely give women flowers...

maf said...

I read your blog earlier this morning and wanted to write a reply later...and then I forgot about it. Then I heard Bad by U2 (surely one of the greatst songs of all time) and it woke me to my duty.

This song takes me back to so many distant memories like nothing else can. Funnily I think they are realte to a theme of freedom - my first car in Sri Lanka, camping in Big Bend in Texas, a kiss..and even to the present. Strange huh.

What I find most intriguing though is most of memeories are visual - I can rarely remember what the sounds or words said were but can picture the scene in quite initimate detail.

Well back to thinking about other visuals...

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

anon - You're right, although I gave someone a book recently.

Maf - Hey mate, thanks for that, it is a very interesting topic that I'm now discovering.

Anonymous said...

what else are you discovering these days rhythmic?

N said...

right..lets try this again...

I'm mostly and aural and olfactory kinda guy...I'm sure I've waxed lyrical enough about how songs like Chocolate, 6/8 war and Empty Streets take me back to events in my life...mostly to do with the beach for some reason :)

Also scents are big for me, RL Romance causes me to gag, reminds me of a less than desirable female that I know...and there's another one, not sure what it is...but everytime that scent drifts by I look around expecting long brown legs, limpid dark eyes (the occasional handbag to the head, but in a good way) :)

Tariq said...

Great post...

I was discussing something very similar with a few friends recently.

I have this ability to identify a song with the opening two or three bars (ok not very special) but this other thing happens as well...I don't know why or what neurological connections are taking place but simultaneously I remember all the information I've ever read about the band as well as facts about the song itself and I only need to have read about it once to remember it. I can only describe it as a sort of web where all the information relating to the song just pops into my head, who's in the band, interesting facts about the band, the meaning of the song, movie soundtracks it has featured in, etc... just about everything I have ever read about it (ok so it ust may mean that I have a decent memory, although it never bloody happened at exams).. but this is where it gets wierd.. I sort of 'see' everything that happened when I heard that particular song for the first time (where I was, who I was with, what we were doing/talking about) and by see I mean literally see the event as it unfolded... it's like I'm there again. Over time I have learnt to shut it off for really crap songs but for really meaningful songs it just happens. (I have to pull over when I'm driving sometimes because I just zone out). For example I was standing by my grandfather's hospital bed, holding his hand when he passed away and for no apparent reason Jeff Buckleys rendition of 'hallelujah' was in my head... and now when I hear the intro to that song I see myself back in that room and I see everything that happened that day, even insignificant details like the colour of the curtains etc...