Music Monday: The Bridge of Winter


The anthem of transition.

One thing I’ve always respected about winter is how it brings with it (usually unannounced) a powerful silence. Snow and ice have a way of muting the ambient noise of life outside, and without the plethora of spring and summer animals to make cacophony in the woods, we have a chance to hear more clearly our own thoughts.

I don’t think it’s right to ask people to dance all the time. I don’t think it’s right to ask people to sing all the time. I think there’s a reason for winter, and it’s to illustrate the power of spring and summer. Stillness is what gives dance its meaning. We wouldn’t respect silence without noise, and vice versa.

But all good things must end, and to leave stillness, we have to begin to move. Slowly at first, perhaps a hand or foot, and suddenly we may ourselves in another country, even if it’s just across the room from where we were before.

A few scientists were discussing some theories of the origin of the universe, and a question was raised about time travel. If time and space are connected, and we can traverse one, could we not in theory traverse the other?

Truth be told, we are traversing time, merely in one direction: how fast or slow we go, we do have some control over, but no one says, “Let’s take train in reverse!” Nor does one think they can suddenly take that train and place it elsewhere. No. While the speed may vary, the train marches onward.

3055 illustrates this concept of time travel by highlighting its transitions. We begin with a slow, solo piano, evoking feelings of heartbreak, depression or simply a very long, very cold winter. Without the time marker, one might think this stretches on for minutes, but in measured reality, the entire song doesn’t even last five minutes. Suddenly, a thought is introduced, and almost curiously Olafur Arnalds’ song begins to explore this idea of escaping from its cyclical drudgery. It almost literally picks itself up, adding a cymbal beat and string ensemble, vaulting into an entirely different atmosphere from the one it sulked in before.

It’s like taking flight, or the explosion of flowers in a spring field. The emergence from the long winter is perhaps violent in a way, but the melody is still the same from the first few seconds. We have not left the world, merely recognized its change, crossed a bridge, found the greener grass. After a minute of this new emotion, we settle for the outtro, a serene return to the earth newly alighted and ready for what life throws at us next.

This is truly one of the great works of musical beauty. Whether you’re crawling out of heartbreak, a long winter or a general slump, I hope you enjoy it!


Check out Ólafur Arnalds on iTunes.

Photo: James Mann/Flickr

2 responses to “Music Monday: The Bridge of Winter

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