Tag Archives: Peace Post

Peace Post: Max Richter, Herbie Hancock and Today’s World

Like many others, I feel at a loss to shape words into coherent phrases expressing outrage, sorrow, compassion and balanced thinking in the midst of our current flood of events in today’s world.

In light of this, as always, my medium of choice is music…and music as protest/social statement has a long history. Yes indeed I, myself, did the singer-songwriter scene in my early adulthood.  Coming of age in the midst of another time of social unrest – I still embrace that genre.

Life goes on and in today’s world, my own current brand of compositional expression tends towards instrumental music. Personally, I feel it allows for individual interpretation, un-dictated by lyrical suggestion.

Which leads me to Max Richter, a favorite contemporary composer of mine.

Some time ago I stumbled upon an interview-article with Max published on Fifteen Questions. This on-line journal engages “production experts, performers, journalists, scientists and composers to discuss what music means, how it’s made, where its limits lie, and why it affects us all so differently and yet remains universal” rather than discussing the private lives of artists or their latest releases.

Here are a few of his thoughts to which I relate and are relevant to the subject of this blog post. I encourage those of you interested in musical composition and the driving forces behind it to read the full interview.

Max Richter – interview excerpts and short musical clip

Recomposed: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (Spring)

What do you usually start with when composing?

Music for me is storytelling, so I usually start with an intention or something I want to say. From there I kind of struggle around in the dark, trying to find ways to say that. Sometimes it’s a linear thing where I have an idea and then go about trying to find ways to express it. Other times I will discover things along the way and the idea ends up turning into something else altogether. It’s a mixture between intention and chance.

I think the reason I write music is because I’m trying to say things that I find difficult to encapsulate verbally. Music is its own kind of language and it’s very good at saying things that words struggle with, so that’s often the impulse for me.

The role of the composer has always been subject to change. What’s your view on the (e.g. political/social/creative) tasks of composers today and how do you try to meet these goals in your work?

Music is a social art, kind of like talking, but in a way, music as a vehicle for political critique has evaporated in the last 20 years and that’s disappointing.

I think if we’re talking about something in music, we should be talking about the big things that are worth talking about and those things are: the state of the world; how we live and how we spend our time. That’s something that really drives me. For example, the track The Shadow Journal on Blue Notebooks, for me, is a protest song. It was composed and recorded the week after the first big anti-Iraq war march in London. And even though Czeslaw Milosz’s words are actually describing the Second World War, the imagery he used resonated with me at that particular moment in time and so social comment was most definitely the primary motivation behind this piece of music.

Generally speaking though, people are not thinking about music in those terms anymore, not if you compare it to the counter-culture movement of the sixties, when social commentary was one the absolute driving forces of music. It’s a shame and a lost opportunity in many ways.

Herbie (and the Headhunters) Hancock – interview excerpts and musical clip

And then there’s Herbie. Rummaging through some of my paper files a few weeks ago, I came across a Music and Musicians (June 2010) article I kept on hand entitled, “Herbie Hancock: Imagining the future with a plan, a piano and a vision of peace.”

I first heard of him as Herbie and the Headhunters in 1973 during my second year of college (University of Colorado at Boulder, 1972-1977). I fell in love with his ‘new’ funk sound while listening to his Chameleon on the then ‘underground’ Denver radio station KLZ FM.

Give the piece a listen as you continue reading excerpts from that article.

What did you set out to do with this (The Imagine Project) record?

I wanted to make a global record. Although I’ve recorded with artists from other countries at various times, this truly was about emphasizing global collaboration as a path toward peace. I started thinking about America basically being an immigrant country.

Most of us have ancestors who were not from these shores. So we have these issues that are happening now about immigration and closing the borders and locking things down. I understand the motivation – the fear from 9/11 and terrorists. If you couple that with the insecurity that has come about because of the economic downturn, it’s drawing people into a state of chaos.

They’re trying to find ways to blame something, to put it on somebody. I think it’s time to stop looking outside for who to blame…now is the time to proactively begin the process of creating the kind of future we want for our children and for our children’s children.

How did you translate those ideals into music?

The first thing you have to do is be willing to be open and to embrace cultures outside of our own. The second thing is respecting the cultures and the people of those cultures. What other ways can we show our respect for other cultures? One of them is through language. It’s why I decided that if I truly wanted a global record, the record couldn’t just be in English…

Today’s World – in conclusion

Max and Herbie’s comments reveal the motivation behind much of an (he)artist’s work.

Communication – whether of a personal social statement or expression of some inner emotional response to life’s experiences – is often the result of a composer’s work; intentional or not.

For most musicians, even if performing non-original pieces, interpretational nuances shape one’s own message to be received by the audience as a gift from the heart.

For myself, my Swimming with Swans project is one such work…to give voice to the fact that those of us who have experienced or are currently in the midst of a period of displacement in a living situation or even state of mind, are not defined by that but live day-by-day and create works of beauty regardless.  And share it with all who will listen.

That’s just who we are and what we do – we count, we matter and we make a difference.

“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NIV

Teaser Quotes from my forthcoming Peace Post

I look forward to sharing the entire article (entitled – Peace Post: Max Richter, Herbie Hancock and Today’s World) with you in the next few days.

“I think the reason I write music is because I’m trying to say things that I find difficult to encapsulate verbally. Music is its own kind of language and it’s very good at saying things that words struggle with, so that’s often the impulse for me.”
Max Richter, composer

“Most of us have ancestors who were not from these shores. So we have these issues that are happening now about immigration and closing the borders and locking things down. I understand the motivation – the fear from 9/11 and terrorists. If you couple that with the insecurity that has come about because of the economic downturn, it’s drawing people into a state of chaos.”
Herbie Hancock, musician

Peace Post: Found while rummaging through Dad’s piles

Postcard sent to Ma & Dad, Lakewood, CO May 2005:

Colorado post card to ma and dad

I often send greetings via snail mail to loved ones

Message on back:

“Remember that all music, in general, is a succession of rainbows.” Pablo Casals

Ma & Dad: I hope your day is filled with color and harmony. Love, Laura

The Buena Vista Social Club, More Cowbell and Cinco de Mayo

I was digging through the More Cowbell Cult Playlist I compiled about 2 years ago looking for the song by The Buena Vista Social Club that featured cowbell. I thought maybe since it’s close to Cinco de Mayo, I’d feature it in a blog post and revive the call to contribute to the expansion of this fun playlist.

I know, I know, Cinco de Mayo isn’t a Cuban holiday…heck, it isn’t an American holiday either, so?

I confess to liking any festival that encompasses dancing, food, family, music, art and community involvement regardless of ethnic origin.

viva la raza

my former fiance was deeply involved in the early days of La Raza

I was first introduced to Cinco de Mayo in the early 1970’s, long before it mainstreamed into American culture.  At the time, I was engaged to a young man who was Chicano*.  We were both students at the University of Colorado, Boulder – then and now a hotbed of education, social activism and well yes, partying…Along with the normal Vietnam protests, we spent a lot of time not buying or eating grapes from Safeway…. !Viva La Raza!

Continue reading

Labor Day Goat Quote

Labor Day:
a public holiday or day of festivities held in honor of working people, in the US and Canada on the first Monday in September, in many other countries on May 1.

Goat Quote "I get up. I get milked. Then I hang out with my girlfriends. Who wouldn't want this job?"“I get up. I get milked. Then I hang out with my girlfriends. Who wouldn’t want this job?”

3 Quotes, 3 Days – the second

Peace Be To This HousePeace be to this house – Luke 10:5

I’ve been nominated by Geralyn of Where My Feet Are to take part in the 3 days, 3 quotes challenge. This is my first ever nomination for anything ‘blog’ related, so I’m tickled pink to participate. Thank you Geralyn!

The above quote was the inspiration for a friendship/housewarming quilt I created in collaboration with friends and family to celebrate moving into our new (at the time) home just spitting distance from our previous home.  It now hangs on the wall beside our bed in our little rental house very far away from both homes as a warm reminder of those special times and people.

The rules of the challenge are:

1) Thank the person who nominated you.
2) Post a quote each day for 3 days.
3) Each day nominate 3 new bloggers to take part.

My nominees are:

Becky

Donna

Deborah

(Hope you can participate but no worries if you can’t)

3 Quotes, 3 Days – the first

Clementa Pinckney quote Huff Post

South Carolina state senator, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of 9 slain at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC

“Could we not argue that America is about freedom…” South Carolina state senator, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of 9 slain at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC.

I’ve been nominated by Geralyn of Where My Feet Are to take part in the 3 days, 3 quotes challenge. This is my first ever nomination for anything ‘blog’ related, so I’m tickled pink to participate. And also sobered by its timing. Thank you Geralyn.

The rules of the challenge are:

1) Thank the person who nominated you.
2) Post a quote each day for 3 days.
3) Each day nominate 3 new bloggers to take part.

My nominees are:

Anna

L.Marie

Jayne

(Hope you can participate but no worries if you can’t)