The Sway of Septimus

I love the movie Stardust. Have you seen it? Its whimsical creativity tickles me. But even better than its feel-good visuals is its soundtrack. I bought it because of one song. We all do that at least once, right? Or is that an old-fashioned thing now, buying a CD?

Anyway, I bought the CD  for just one song, however old-fashioned that makes me. "Septimus" just tugged at me, and I couldn't figure out why. It drove my brain crazy, in a I-have-to-solve-this-music kind of way.

Side note: I have space-time synesthesia. It's this cool thing where chunks of time are always in the same place when I think about them. Like entire calendars, months, weeks, etc. It's complicated to explain, but one of my stronger abilities is perfect timing. 

By that I mean that if I set a timer for twenty-five minutes--say, on my oven--I can tell you exactly when it's going to beep. I'll walk back into the kitchen because my brain is tugging at me, and the second my foot hits the tiles, BEEEEP. It's freakishly eerie, even from inside my own skull, so I kind of don't talk about it with real live people. You all are safe, though. Right? I'm not freaky. This is the Internet. I knew you'd understand.

So, perfect timing. It affects my enjoyment of--and obsessions with--certain songs. My father is a musician with perfect pitch, so maybe it's a related genetic thing. I can't say one way or the other, but I do know that I grew up around music all the time. Now, I hear a certain song with a catchy bridge, haunting intro, or unforgettable rhythm, and I literally cannot listen to anything else. For hours. Sometimes all day. If the rhythm makes me happy, then I keep it forever and listen to it a lot. If it makes me sad, I can walk away after I've shaken off the last of my listening obsession.

"Septimus" is only 1:23 in length. How did such a short song sneak into my brain, you ask? Septimus, from the Latin for seven. Septimus is the seventh son of the king in Stardust. "Septimus" has some funky uneven rhythm that celebrates the seven-beat. The only other music that's come anywhere close to being this annoyingly awesome is the music that plays in The Matrix when the team arrives inside the Matrix and begins their journey to take Neo to see the Oracle. Another seven-beat rhythm that constantly starts over one beat early until it wraps around, like a snake eating its tail, coming full circle in your head before you expected it to.

But "Septimus" has more swag than that. It's in your face with its obvious seven-ness. It's so obvious about its uneven rhythm that it's wearing a lampshade on its lampshade. And I can't get enough of it. The music's strong beat makes me constantly feel that I've missed a step, and that I should hurry to catch up. It's perfect for listening to on the treadmill or when I'm pounding out new chapters in my novels.

Over time, I've let go of that low-level anger I had at the composer who would dare to inflict a purposely odd-numbered beat on the world. I've learned to embrace the odd in my music, just as I've learned to embrace the odd in myself.

I am Septimus. But don't worry; you can be Septimus too. We'll all be Septimus, and then we'll be too strong to stop. Spartacus, bro...so close! If you'd had this odd rhythm banging in your brain, you'd have been unstoppable, too.

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