Cirque’s Gamelan

On my way to work this morning, I dusted off some Cirque du Soleil tunes. It’s been forever and a day since I listened to them; their return was way beyond overdue.

Has anyone seen “O”? I find the entire performance, including the music, to be nothing short of magical. My favorite is “Gamelan” — it really gets going at the 2:30 mark and it’s the most beautiful part of the song that comes around again a few more times.

I’ve heard that sometimes the lyrics are a mix of French, Russian — sometimes even Bulgarian. I’m sure there are others, but “Cirquish” is apparently the artificial language used by Cirque’s performers during songs and on the stage.


The gibberish nature of it evokes emotions that can be felt whether you understand the words or not, similar to how you may ‘understand’ an Italian opera without actually knowing Italian.

My cat talks. A lot. He has a number of meows that he’ll alternate, and one in particular means he really wants attention and is no longer content with coming and going on his own. He wants lap-time.

Sometimes I’ll be in the kitchen — cleaning, cooking, whatevering — and I’ll be singing along to what’s on the radio, or whatever is blaring from the 80’s channel on DirecTV. The cat will come in, unbeknownst to me, and will sit there looking up at me while I’m singing.

Out of nowhere, he’ll let out a yowl that — in my opinon — is his expression of, “Wait, I want to sing, too — how does this work?” that comes to the surface. And it scares the bejeezus out of me, but that’s beside the point. It’s been bottled up in him as he sits patiently and watches me, and then he can’t wait any longer — he has to try his hand (paw?) at it. For as much as I have grown to adore the theater, musicals and composing my own tunes, I sometimes wonder if he’s a deceased thespian from centuries past that’s been reincarnated as my beloved pet.

(No, not really, but you know what I mean.)

I found myself wondering if that’s what spurs a baby to speak its first words. Maybe it’s just finally done being content with little grunts, squeaks and squeals, and it absolutely needs to find a way to be part of his surroundings. Thus, “mama” or “dada” comes out.

If the things around us — music, people, situations — are capable of building up a response that, why not music sung in Cirquish? 

My brain felt child-like, maybe even baby-like this morning. I exited the freeway at my usual off-ramp just as the music was beginning to build (refer to the above-mentioned 2:30 mark) and, since I hadn’t heard the song in ages, I got goosebumps and remembered exactly what it was that I loved about the entire album in that moment: it was the feeling of needing to let every single bottled-up emotion and ounce of creativity out, and like I could scream if I didn’t have a plan to go about doing that.

Sorrowful violins seemed to find a resolve, cellos spoke of dark feelings that hadn’t before been acknowledged; a driving, powerful drumming moved the whole song forward to a place of exhaustion after a cathartic mess had been experienced, dealt with and embraced (and I use the word “mess” lovingly). Last but not least, there are other instruments that I haven’t addressed, but let us not forget the forlorn and wandering keys that find their way with a beautiful melody, go off track and begin to play a few measures of doubtful, wayward sadness, then find their way again.

Not unlike us every now and again in life.

Tonight I am thankful for the music of Cirque du Soleil’s “O” and for the sounds of Gamelan that reminded me of the power in creating — as well as the power in release.

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