Many years ago at junior school, being taught the rudiments of music in the last classroom at the end of a gloomy corridor, our teacher played Gustav Holst's The Planets on the refrigerator-sized phonograph he wheeled out when not distributing recorders and triangles into our grubby, ten-year-old hands. Specifically, he played the movement entitled Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity. "Close your eyes," he commanded. "And listen to the music. What images do the sounds conjure in your mind?"
I was quite suspicious of this exercise, even at such a young age, believing it to be merely an excuse for the teacher to suck down a surreptitious cigarette instead of inculcating EGBDF into our notationally resistant brains. So naturally I imagined the father of the gods seated on the back of a giant eagle, flying high above the school and dispatching his thunderbolts to blast all my despised fellow students to kingdom come. It was a fantasy that had nothing to do with my actual response to Holst's allegro giouoso and everything to do with filling my entire being with malicious glee. Such was how my juvenile mind found inspiration in works of art.
When the music ended, our teacher lifted the needle from the vinyl record with all the finesse of nightclub DJ practicing vigorous scratching techniques. Looking back, I think he would have preferred playing us the complete works of Alban Berg and quitting his thankless job altogether. As it was, the teacher wearily enquired of a particularly blank looking boy what visions, if any, Jupiter Bringer of Jollity had aroused in him.
"I thought of the planet Jupiter in space," the boy said as blankly as he looked; a comically obtuse response that certainly brought me a great deal of joy. But it also brought me an important epiphany at an early age: Most people are literal-minded automatons possessing absolutely no imagination whatsoever. Is it any wonder the Gods decided it's no longer worth their while bringing us anything at all? We've been left to our own devices and we're not very good at that if the current state of the world is anything to go by.
Alas, the "Music of the Spheres" is now a staccato freestyle rap performed at ear-splitting volume, incomprehensible, tuneless, and impossible to dance to. Close your eyes and think of that, but I wouldn't recommend it.