139 Timbres and Grooves

“Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.”
-Ludwig van Beethoven

There is something otherworldly about certain pieces of music. There is something that moves me beyond words, and I can't fully explain it.

This may sound cliché, but the un-deducible power of certain pieces of music is absolutely amazing to me, not least of all because I spend so much time doing music and music theory as part of my professional life.

When I listen to “139/Dead of Night” from the album Invisible by the band Leeland, it affects me, and I can’t fully explain why.

Over the past few years, I’ve gone through plenty of spiritual doubt and my faith has been tested like never before. There are plenty of days when I feel like God is not close at all. These are the sort of days on which I feel like even if I did pray, there would be no point. These days have become more frequent, not less, as the years pass.

Of course, I know deep, deep down that God hears me when I pray, and that my prayers are neither useless nor unheard. I don’t fear that I’ll be condemned to some hell or purgatory, and I don’t need reassurance of my “salvation” (a term which has also become for me both simpler and more complicated the more experience I gain).

Nevertheless, more and more, the deeper assurance doesn’t solve the present situational pain, emptiness, sadness, loneliness, or existential dread.

What a heavy thing it is to be alive some days.

Which is, again, why it is so indescribably, incoherently bizarre that a song. Like “139/Dead of Night” can move me so. There are plenty of similar songs, with similar instrumentation, similar harmonic progressions or voice-leading tendencies, similar (or the same) singer(s), similar form, similar recording and mixing and production techniques, or lyrics which seem similar, at least on the surface. This song is not all that remarkable, in so many ways.

And yet, to me, it is remarkable.


Perhaps the very un-explainability of it is some of the greatest magic.

As a musician and composer/arranger/director/experimenter, I also can’t leave well enough alone.

“139/Dead of Night” is part of a playlist I’ve been building called Dave’s Timbres & Grooves. Yes, I know it’s kind of a cheesy. Do feel free to suggest a better one. This playlist is special to me, and this song (lately) in particular.

I’m going to try to start explaining why. I may only be able to explain five or ten percent of the “why.” I may only be able to investigate a corner of this mystery, and ninety percent of it may remain mysterious and not-of-this-world. That’s OK with me.

So, here comes my attempt.


In the meantime, here is a link to the playlist, which continues to slowly change, evolve, and mature. Feel free to suggest additions!