Music can move and affect us in many different ways. It shapes us, inspires us, and connects us. It can bring goosebumps to our skin and allows us to feel a wide range of emotions in just a few melodies and chords. How can we express our love and appreciation for music? We sing, of course!
Night had settled over the forest, the full moon casting silvery beams of light across the sparkling surface of snow. Stars glittered in thick swathes, twinkling coldly in the winter darkness. A lithe shadow swept past the trees. Dark fur buffeted in the icy gusts of wind, and snow flew up from huge, powerful paws. As it reached the edge of the woodland, a smaller, faster shadow lept past with a barking laugh.
"Come on, slow-poke!" the gray she-wolf called back, her bushy tail sweeping the snow as she glanced toward the approaching shape of her companion.
"Perhaps you ought to slow down," the big silver male puffed. His breath streamed from his mouth in huge white clouds of frost. "The overlook is close by; you wouldn't want to fall off," he warned, though not without a glint of amusement in his dark amber eyes.
The she-wolf snorted, finally slowing to walk beside the male. "I'd never fall. More likely, I'd have to stop you from falling," she teased. She gazed up and observed the spectacle of moon and stars. Even beneath her thick gray coat, she could feel the bite in the air. "Why are we even out here? It's freezing, and I'm sure the Pack will be worried."
The silver male loped in silence alongside her for a moment, pondering his response. "You are my daughter," he began, "the Alpha's daughter." He swung his gaze round to meet hers. "It's time you learned the ways of the Wolf Song."
The female's brow creased in confusion. "The Wolf Song? Isn't that nothing more than a howl?"
Her father chuckled deep in his chest. "If that's what you believe. I'm here to teach you differently. I've seen the way you watch others howl; you don't hear them in the same way as most wolves do." The she-wolf bristled at his words.
"What's that supposed to mean?" she growled.
The male grinned and leaned down to brush his nose against her ear. "You'll see," he murmured.
Soon, the pair reached the land's end. Far below sprawled a seemingly endless expanse of untouched snow, all aglitter beneath the soft gray moonlight. The she-wolf lifted her eyes to the distant horizon, but she could hardly tell where land ended and sky began. She breathed a wordless sound in awe of the sight before her. From here, she could see everything of the Pack's territory; from the black, snake-like shape of the northern river to the immense silhouette of the eastern mountain summits.
"It's beautiful," she whispered. A white cloud-wreathed her face.
"Yes," rumbled the male, reclining at the cliff's jagged edge. "As old and ancient as song, one could say."
"Mmm," she grunted thoughtfully, still transfixed by the view of the landscape. Absentmindedly, she sat beside her father. Shaking her head lightly, she finally drew her gaze away from the scene and blinked toward him. "So, what was this howl you spoke of?"
The big silver wolf huffed at the question. "A howl is one way of describing it, but it's so much more." He lifted his huge maw to the inky black sky and closed his eyes against the stinging cold. "It is a sound that fills the heart and awakens the soul." He opened one golden eye to look at her. "Can you feel it?"
The she-wolf wrinkled her muzzle, thoroughly confused. "Not in the slightest. What do you mean?"
He opened both eyes now and winked at her. "Just listen." He gathered breath from the crisp, icy air, threw his head back, and gave his voice to the brilliant moon above. It was sonorous and clear, but it was beyond any howl the she-wolf had ever heard. His voice seemed to change in every moment, never still. It fluctuated, loudened, and quieted; it carried feeling and weight, free from the bonds of survival and necessity. It was emotion expressed without words, at turns somber, jovial, and sorrowful.
She listened with rapt intensity, even cocking her head to hear more clearly. When her father's howl faded into silence, the great sky above suddenly seemed smaller. Something burned deep in her belly, as though a fire had been ignited. It was at the same time thrilling and frightening.
"Well?" the silver male prompted.
Her father huffed. "What did you feel listening to that?"
"It was strange," the she-wolf began, unsure of how to properly describe the chaos of feeling inside her. "It was loud, I suppose, and very pretty to listen to--"
"No, no, no!" the silver male growled, cutting her off. "I don't want to know what you heard. When you heard me, what is it that you felt?" She stared at him. The intense glow in his eyes meant he was serious. She took a deep breath and thought about it.
Finally, she replied, "At first, I was confused; I'd never heard a howl like that before. After that, I realized it soothed me. Some moments were serious, and others light-hearted." She paused. "Was that…a song?"
The male's gaze softened. "Yes, daughter. That was song. Can you feel its pull, deep in your belly?"
She didn't hesitate to nod. Even now she felt it, an intense burn without pain.
"I want to teach it to you," the silver male said. "But you cannot just learn song by using your head. You also have to hear it from the heart. Understand?" She didn't, but she nodded anyway. "I want you to howl with me this time. I'll go first, and then you join me." He didn't give her time to respond. He threw back his head again and howled, but the song was unchanging this time. The tone was still.
The she-wolf listened for a moment and tentatively took up the howl. His voice was deeper, and hers lighter, but somehow the same. Something in the song changed unexpectedly, almost of its own accord; it was her father, howling a different tone. Though they sang diverging howls, the tune still carried.
But how? The she-wolf's voice stumbled and faltered until it was only her father singing. Once he'd realized she'd stopped, his howl abruptly fell silent.
"What happened? You were doing well," he murmured.
"I-I don't know," the she-wolf said, turning away. "The song changed, and though it was different, it still sounded right somehow…It startled me, that's all."
She heard the big male step close and felt the warmth of his fur against her flank. "That's called harmony. Two voices, though singing differently, can interlace and separate, but still reach the same places." He playfully ruffled her neck fur. "You panicked and thought too hard. Be confident, and listen from here." He pressed a big paw to her chest.
"Alright," she said. She was prepared to try again. Singing even for just the briefest moment had set the fire in her soul burning like a brand.
Her father started once more, in a voice deep and powerful. She joined in more quickly than before, and with more strength in her tone. Again the song changed, but she was ready for it. Their voices rose and fell together, intertwined and spiraled away. It was like flying. The world seemed to revolve around their song, listening to every unique note, waiting for the tune to diverge and converge where it pleased. It was a story told without words, the purest form of speech.
Somehow, someway, the song ended, and the night was cloaked in silence once more. The she-wolf sighed contentedly.