Week 31: “Despertar” by Aisha Duo

Sometimes beautiful songs show up in the least likely places. A couple of years ago, my work supplied me with a computer that came with a fancy new operating system that promised to revolutionize personal computing: Windows Vista.

Well, we all know how that turned out. The new-and-improved Windows 7 was unveiled a couple of years later, and Vista was quickly forgotten, like an ugly jacket bought on impulse, shoved to the back of the Microsoft closet so guests wouldn’t see it when they came over for dinner.

But for me, there was an unexpected bright side to Vista. The version of Windows Media Player that came as part of the package included a couple of songs by the Italian jazz duet Aisha Duo. One of these songs, “Despertar” instantly caught my ear as something worth salvaging from the Vista shipwreck.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. Marimba. No instrument in the world makes you want to spontaneously start tip-toeing around quite like the Marimba. It’s like the official instrument of being sneaky…especially when paired with a plucked cello, as it is at the beginning of this tune.

2. 5/4 time. Dave Brubeck isn’t the only one capable of turning this odd-ball time signature into awesomeness.

3. Shifts from major to minor. At about 1:12 in this song, the cello breaks into a sudden and almost cheezy melodic line in a major key. But just when you start visualizing two lovers running in slow-motion towards one another on a beach, at 1:36 the melody deftly shifts back to the minor.

Recommended listening activity:

Covertly sneaking into your parents’ room to search for hidden presents in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Buy it here.