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The International Sign for Happiness is a C Major Chord

08/15/11 5:00AM

Ruby McCafferty, an incoming Sophomore at Burlington High School, wrote this piece in anticipation for the 2011 Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, where she'll be writing about the musicians and their performances. She writes about the power that music can have over emotions, and how mere words can become inadequate. For more great student writing go to youngwritersproject.org


Seldom can I find the words to express my true intentions, and I often let phrases slip from my lips like little bullets to shoot the conversation dead. I'll watch the subject matter fall to the ground and in one last attempt to resuscitate it, I will apologize for my inability to be a social butterfly. In doing so, I lodge another bullet deep into the heart of the matter. I make a promise to myself to be silent, observant, and to keep any ideas contained. This is a vow I keep for all of three minutes, until the topic changes again and I find myself bursting to add my voice. My lips once again become the smoking gun, and I the shell-shocked girl whose finger slipped on the trigger.

If it were up to me, I would speak in phrases solely musical. Throbbing chords and drawn out bass notes and flighty arpeggios that pull bystanders in and drag them under, all expressing my intentions perfectly. Excitement would be expressed by a trilling flute rather than high pitched chatter and my melancholy complaints would be written in the air by low, slow cello strokes as opposed to choked whining phrases. No fumbled bullets here, just truth, and everyone would always understand because the international sign for happiness is a C Major chord.

Sadly, I was given vocal cords instead of a symphony, predetermined notes that always seem to fail me when I need them most. Instead of a graceful melody, the only noise I can make is dissonance, a sound remarkably similar to the shot of a gun.

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