You know that feeling you get when you’re caught unprepared out in the open air, maybe in a field or a park, by a summer thunderstorm–
it’s a very sudden, primordial thrill.
The clouds have quickly moved in as if there’re taking over the world. In the space of a few minutes the sky turns dark and foreboding; billowing mounds of gray sky-madness roll up like war drums of weather. The wind kicks up and you can feel the barometric pressure dropping a mile a minute. Dashing instinctually for cover, you are catapulted into a mode of being that is primitive, as if your breathing life could at any moment be zapped into silent non-being.
Suddenly, time and the earth stand still for a moment while an unearthly presence splits the air, seizing control of everything all around: a flash.
A moment passes. Thunder! The earth trembles!
And a mere man is fear-stricken in shock and awe!
If you were a Neanderthal, you’d feel the dark sky-spirit hang momentarily upon your very life like a death-weight around your neck;
or an ancient Viking– suspended in the midst of a fiery Thor visitation;
or like Elihu of ancient days, who later spoke to his friend Job of such fearful moments:
“At this my heart trembles, and leaps from its place.
Listen closely to the thunder of His voice,
and the rumbling that goes out from His mouth.
Under the whole heaven He lets it loose,
and His lightning to the ends of the earth.
After it, a voice roars; He thunders with His majestic voice,
and He does not restrain the lightnings when His voice is heard.
God thunders with His voice wondrously,
doing great things which we cannot comprehend!”
Or, if you dare not admit to the God thing, and maintain your life studiously suspended in a calculated state of self-trained unbelief, then
you process all this dazzlingly extreme stimuli, arriving promptly at an analytical conclusion about what just happened, and you find yourself relieved that you have just emerged from a condition in which a luminous discharge of electric charges between clouds, and between clouds and earth, through which the path is found by the leader stroke, and the main discharge follows instantaneously along an ionized path, followed by a crackling, booming or rumbling noise which accompanies the flash, and you understand inductively that the noise has its origins in the violent thermal changes accompanying the electrical discharge, which causes non-periodic wave disturbances in the air, and it may even seem that
all hell has broken loose!
Or, if you were the original rock musician, Antonio Vivaldi, translating, back in 1725 A.D., our mysterious storm-crossed experience into an electrifying concerto of stringed instruments performed through a notated snippet of music which you have named Summer, and prefaced the work upon the written score with these few lines of poetic explanation:
“The shepherd boy cries out, frightened of the storm and of his fate.
He stirs his weary limbs for fear of the ferocious lightning and swarms of gnats and flies.
Ah, his fears are all too justified, for thunder shakes the
heavens and breaks down the corn!”
Then your musically arranged memory of the event would feel something this: