WOULD life be better if we lived it to a soundtrack? If our every move was accompanied by a piece of music that enhanced the moment – soaring soft rock during relationship break-ups, high-pitched ballads playing over the first fragile months of a new love affair, tinkly, comic piano music as you’re running for the bus?
I think it would, but only if we each had control of our personal soundtracks – or at least the power of veto on certain tunes.
I can do without the high-pitched wail of Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You spoiling romantic interludes, thank you very much. And there will be no Celine Dion.
A few surprises would be nice though. A new band I hadn’t heard before or some obscure classical music striking up to brighten up a dull train journey.
Unless other people were sharing the experience, they would not be party to each others soundtracks, but they might hear brief snatches as they stepped into each other’s orbits, like when taxi CBs pick up bursts of a song broadcast by a radio station.
We could create the same effect with an MP3 player and a carefully crafted playlist, but it wouldn’t be the same. Asking a new boyfriend to pause, as he moves in for that first kiss, while you stick on Percy Sledge’s When a Man Loves a Woman, is hardly appropriate behaviour.
For reasons of practicality, we should limit our life soundtrack playlists to occasions when we don’t have to be surreptitious about pressing the play button; occasions when we can pre-empt our emotional states such as being stirred by a spectacular view during a long walk in the countryside.
But if you’re visiting Croft Castle in Herefordshire any time soon you won’t need to create a playlist.
Portishead guitarist Adrian Utley has created a piece of music for walkers to listen to while taking a stroll along a designated route.
Released as part of the National Trust’s Great British Walk campaign, which celebrates the nation’s love of walking through thousands of events and downloadable routes, the 15-minute piece aims to captures the spirit of a landscape dominated by ancient trees including a thousand-year-old oak.
It is part of Sonic Journeys, a collection of tracks inspired by artists’ surroundings commissioned by music promoters Sounduk and hosted by The Space arts website.
I listened to Utley’s piece while sitting at my desk in an office with no windows, which in terms of atmosphere has more in common with a military bunker than an autumnal, tree-lined path.
Even so it is an intensely eerie work and I would like to witness how it heightens the experience of walking through the landscape that inspired it.
Sometimes though, when the birds are singing and the wind is rustling the leaves, the best kind of music is none at all.