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Archive for the tag “Music”

celebrating the music of poetry

music of poetryIt’s still April; still National Poetry Month.

Poetry and music often come together in unexpected ways. Poet Dorothea Lasky said:

The music of poetry is a delight for the mind.

When it’s read out loud—or set to music and sung—it’s can also be a great delight to the ear.

i carry your heart with me

Poem by e.e. cummings/performed by Michael Hedges (with David Crosby and Graham Nash singing harmony) from the album Taproot. Cummings is my favorite poet and Hedges is a wonderful musician.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)

the song of wandering Aengus

Poem by William Butler Yeats/performed by The Waterboys from the 2011 album An Appointment with Mr. Yeats. A surprising find. According to Mike Scott’s track guide, “This lyric conjures in my mind’s eye a moonlit wood on a hallucinatory night in some old Celtic dream time, and the bard Aengus, silver-bearded, wandering out on his quest. This music is the soundtrack to that vision.” Flute solo by Sarah Allen.
.

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

adventures of Isabel

Poem by Ogden Nash/performed by Natalie Merchant from the album Leave Your Sleep. I love the energy, the arrangement, the words, Merchant’s voice…everything! It’s my favorite tune on the album.

Isabel met an enormous bear

Isabel, Isabel, she didn’t care
bear was hungry, bear was ravenous
bear’s big mouth was cruel and cavernous
bear said, Isabel, glad to meet you
How do, Isabel, now I’ll eat you
Isabel, Isabel, she didn’t worry
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry
Washed her hands straightened her hair up
Then Isabel ate the bear up

Once in a night black as pitch
Isabel met a wicked old witch
witch’s face was cross and wrinkled
witch’s gums with teeth were sprinkled
Ho, ho, Isabel! old witch crowed
I’ll turn you into an ugly toad
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry
showed no rage, showed no rancor
turned the witch into milk and drank her
Oh yeah,

Isabel!!!

Isabel met a hideous giant
Isabel so self reliant
giant was hairy, giant horrid
One eye in the middle of his forehead
morning, Isabel, giant said
I’ll grind your bones and make my bread
Isabel, Isabel, she didn’t worry
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry
nibbled on his zwieback that she fed off
When it was gone, she cut the giant’s head off

Isabel!!!

Isabel met a troublesome doctor
punched and poked till he really shocked her
doctor’s talk was of coughs and chills
doctor’s satchel bulged with pills
doctor said wow Isabel
Swallow this, it will make you well
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry

Took those pills from the pill concocter
Then Isabel cured the doctor, yeah, oh yeah

ozymandias

And now for something completely different.

Poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley/performed by JJ Burnel (bass guitarist for the English group, the Stranglers) on the “b” side of his single, “Freddie Laker.” (Lyrics included in the video.) I confess to having once stolen a book from the public library–and it was the collected works of Percy Bysshe Shelley. I memorized this poem. I was in high school, but still, what was I thinking? What I’m thinking now is that this is actually pretty cool.

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celebrating the senses: hearing

tree fallingIf a tree falls in a forest and there’s no one there to hear it, does it makes a sound? This has been a question debated by philosophers. Define sound…define hear…define tree. (I kid philosophers, but I once listened to a philosopher spend quite a long time trying to define is.) Now that scientists are weighing in on the tree question, the answer appears to be, as with many other questions, yes and no. And I’m OK with that.

Sounds are vibrations that travel through the air as waves. That puts me in mind of this song by Ray LaMontagne.

So let’s celebrate air, too, which not only gives us breath (and life) but also sound.

As I was thinking about identifying some of the sounds I like, I realized it would be easier to rattle off a list of sounds I don’t like than a list of sounds I do like. So the sound of silence definitely ranks near the top for me. (Having no sound coming from my computer processor is especially good.)

I also realized there are several sounds I like, but only in moderation. For example, I like the sound of rain now and then, but living in the Pacific Northwest would make me crazy. I like the sound of birds singing in the morning, but too much of it and it turns into birds making racket in the morning. I like the whisper of wind through the trees, but not the roar of the gale-force winds we get in New Mexico in the spring.

Other good sounds:

  • Laughter, which is a celebration all by itself
  • A fire burning in a fireplace
  • Popcorn popping
  • My cat purring; also the noise she makes at birds in the tree outside our window
  • All kinds of music

Music is definitely my favorite source of sound. I don’t know that I could pick a favorite (or desert-island album), but No Sun in Venice by The Modern Jazz Quartet comes close. Here’s Venice from that album.

I’ve noticed that sounds can wake me from my internal reverie and bring me back into the world faster than anything else. That’s something I appreciate, even if I may not always celebrate it when it happens.

What sounds do you enjoy most?

This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

celebrating jazz appreciation month

jazz appreciation monthJazz Appreciation Month was created 13 years ago at the Smithsonian, which considerately provides this list of 112 ways to celebrate jazz. My own appreciation for jazz developed late in life. Although my partner of 30 years was a professional jazz musician, I’m just a little bit resistant and considered jazz to be his music. I didn’t listen to much of it at all.

But a character in a story I was writing turned out to be a big jazz fan. I knew enough to make the guy’s interest in jazz believable, but somewhere along the re-write route—a few years after my partner died—I started along my own path to becoming an actual jazz fan.

If my partner were around to compare notes (sorry!) now, we would probably discover some shared interests, although he might be a bit surprised to learn that I named the cat I have now Naima, after the John Coltrane tune of the same name.

I’m sure we would also find that our preferences don’t completely overlap. For example, I’m a huge Sonny Rollins fan, and I can’t recall ever seeing a Sonny Rollins LP or CD among my partner’s music collection.

Jazz has all kinds of moods, high and low, fast and slow, sunny and blue. But this post is about celebration, so I give you the most celebratory Sonny Rollins tune of all, Don’t Stop the Carnival, performed live at the International Jazz Festival in Montreal in 1982. Simply joyous! So please enjoy it.

This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

celebrating special occasions

lensicLast week a friend treated me to what turned out to be an outstanding performance by Mary Chapin Carpenter at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe. I haven’t heard any live music since last summer and I’d never been to the Lensic before, even though it’s directly across the street from one of my favorite places to eat in Santa Fe, The San Francisco Street Bar and Grill.

The concert was a benefit for the Espanola Valley Humane Society, so we were treated to a revolving selection of adorable cat and dog photos on the screen at the back of the stage before the show started. It was great to learn afterward that the money raised far exceeded the evening’s goal. I’m always up for celebrating cats—and dogs are OK, too.

mary chapin carpenterIt’s been more than two decades since I owned a Mary Chapin Carpenter CD. And my musical tastes have taken a lot of twists and turns since then. I’ve gotten quite a bit older and so has she. But in comparing her live performance with some of the studio recordings from her younger days, I’ve decided I much prefer her more mature voice.

She and the two musicians in her band are extremely talented musicians and performers who had the audience from the first number and kept it all the way through the show. I stayed out past my bedtime (it was the middle of the week, and I had work-related appointments the next morning), but it was well worth it. After all, I had another opportunity to sleep the very next night but not to hear this great music again.

Thank you, John!

This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

celebrating red shoes (the angels wanna wear my)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have to buy shoes online (narrow feet), so to avoid the hassle of returning the ones that don’t fit, I’ve settled on a couple tried-and-true brands. Back in the day, I had a pair of Enzo Angiolini Liberty flats in two-toned purple that I loved, as much as one can love a shoe, and finally wore out.

This style still comes in an amazing variety of colors—and in my size—but, alas, no more purple.

However, they do have this fantastic chili pepper red. As soon as I saw them, I had to admit that I really, really wanted a pair of red shoes. But red shoes seemed like an indulgence. They were definitely something I could do without, so I kept doing without them.

This spring, when I found them at half price, I went for it and indulged my desire for red shoes. They have turned out to be a celebration not only when I wear them but whenever I see them in my closet.

I used to be disgusted, and now I try to be amused.

The red shoes definitely help!

Is there something, shoe or other-wise, that you’re happy you indulged in—or that you want to?

This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

celebration is a state of mind

celebrate 1At least that’s how I’ve decided to look at it. Recently I noticed that celebration hasn’t been present in my life as much as I want it to be—or as much as it has been many different times in the past. I could identify a few reasons for that, but the reasons don’t matter. What matters is that I want it back!

So I’ve decided to create 30 Days of Celebration to help me get back into the celebration habit. That means I will post something about celebration every day from now through April 30th.

In thinking about what represents celebration for me, I quickly came up with a list of at least a dozen things. One of them is music. To kick off this 30 Days of Celebration, I created a celebration playlist of 20 songs and put it on a CD.

Levels (Avicii)
Shut Up and Dance (Talking Is Hard)
It’s Time (Imagine Dragons)
Wings (Jimmy Buffett)
Wonder What You’re Doing for the Rest of Your Life (Train)
Bright (Echosmith)
Hands in the Air (Timbaland feat. Ne-Yo)
Wonder (Emili Sande & Naughty Boy)
Good Life (OneRepublic)
Leaving Winslow (Jackson Browne)


Glad Tidings (Van Morrison)
Earthquake Driver (Counting Crows)
The Moment (Toad the Wet Sprocket)
Avalanche (Talking Is Hard)
Terra Nova (James Taylor)
Downtown Train (Patty Smyth)
Good Feeling (Big Idol)
Wake Me Up (Aloe Blacc)
I Lived (OneRepublic)

The songs that represent celebration for me may not feel celebratory to you. I invite you to consider which songs do feel like celebration to you—and to play them today.

If you, too, would like to amp up celebration in your life, please visit throughout the month and share the things—and the ways—you like to celebrate.

Your Brain on Art, Writing, and Music

brain

 

 

Here are some recent stories about what goes on in the brain when we’re writing, making music, and appreciating art. (Originally posted on Farther to Go!)

Click on the titles to read the complete articles.

 

Our Brains Are Made for Enjoying Art

Ann Lukits (The Wall Street Journal)

Analysis suggests art appreciation is a natural biological process.

“Viewing paintings engages a number of different regions of the brain, suggesting art appreciation is a natural biological process, according to the report in the June issue of the journal Brain and Cognition. The study found that paintings activated areas of the brain involved in vision, pleasure, memory, recognition and emotions, in addition to systems that underlie the conscious processing of new information to give it meaning.”

This is Your Brain on Writing

Carl Zimmer (The New York Times)

Becoming skilled at writing may activate the same areas of the brain that are activated in people who are skilled at other things, such as sports or music. This study showed that the areas of the brain activated in novice writers were not the same as those activated in the skilled, “professionally trained,” writers.

“During brainstorming, the novice writers activated their visual centers. By contrast, the brains of expert writers showed more activity in regions involved in speech.”

It would appear that training is training is training—no matter what the training is for.

Musical Training Increases Executive Brain Function in Adults and Children

Jeremy Dean (PsyBlog)

“Both the brains and behaviour of adult and child musicians were compared with non-musicians in the study by researchers at the Boston Children’s Hospital. They found that adult musicians compared to non-musicians showed enhanced performance on measures of cognitive flexibility, working memory, and verbal fluency. And musically trained children showed enhanced performance on measures of verbal fluency and processing speed.”

Music Changes the Way You Think

Daniel A. Yudkin and Yaacov Trope (Scientific American)

Different music encourages different frames of mind.

“Tiny, almost immeasurable features in a piece of music have the power to elicit deeply personal and specific patterns of thought and emotion in human listeners….Ponderous, resonant, unfamiliar tonalities—the proverbial “auditory forest”—cause people to construe things abstractly. By contrast, the rapid, consonant, familiar chords of the perfect fifth—the “auditory trees”—bring out the concrete mindset….That music can move us is no surprise; it’s the point of the art form, after all. What’s new here is the manner in which the researchers have quantified in fine-grained detail the cognitive ramifications of unpacked melodic compounds.”

awake!

Being Awake

Being Awake (Photo credit: Celestine Chua

My keyword for winter is awake.

awake: conscious; not asleep

A counter-intuitive choice for the time of year, perhaps. And perhaps it sprang to mind because of this amazingly, awesomely invigorating song that I’ve been addicted to for some time that just forces me to get up and dance whenever I hear it. (There are witnesses.) Turn up the volume to listen.

It’s always such a joy that you wake up in the morning
and there’s work to do.

–Jerome Lawrence, author and playwright

What’s your keyword for winter?

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brilliant!

Mandala #5

It’s been a year since I started this blog, which I’ve been neglecting of late. Still, Happy Anniversary to me.

On the first day of fall last year, I decided to choose a keyword and a theme song for the season. The keyword I chose was velocity and my theme song was Glad Tidings by Van Morrison. The result was kind of amusing, but the idea was a good one.

Yesterday morning, I heard Terry Gross interviewing Elton John on Fresh Air ahead of the release of his latest album, The Diving Board. He talked about his music, his years of drug and alcohol addiction, and his current life, which he described as being brilliant.

Brilliant adj full of light; shining; very bright and radiant

What a wonderful way to describe a life! Who wouldn’t want to have a brilliant life? Or who believes that having a brilliant life is unattainable, too splashy or flashy, or not a serious or respectable enough goal?

I think brilliant is absolutely the best possible kind of life to have. So that’s my keyword for fall. To go along with it, my theme song is Elton John’s version of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

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happy birthday, John Coltrane

Born 87 years ago today; died too young at 40. This is my favorite of his songs–and one of my all-time favorite songs period, Naima, from the album Giant Steps.

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