excerpt from: ‘Silence In the Age of Noise’ by Erling Kagge translated by Becky L. Cook
“Silence can be boring. Everyone has experienced the ways in which silence can come across as exclusive, uncomfortable and at times even scary. At other times, it is a sign of loneliness. Or sorrow. The silence that follows is heavy.
However, silence can also be a friend. A comfort and a source of deeper riches.
Silence in itself is rich. It is exclusive and luxurious. A key to unlock new ways of thinking. I don’t regard it as a renunciation or something spiritual, but rather a practical resource for living a richer life. Or, to put it in more ordinary terms, as a deeper form of experiencing life than just turning on the TV to watch the news, again. “
As per Banjo Guy’s suggestion in part one, I spent some time with my Hammered Dulcimer (HD).
Once hauled out from it’s resting spot under the skinny folding work table in my music ‘studio’, and set up in the living room, it was ready & waiting for me to play at my pleasure.
Our house is on the small side at ~1200 square feet. As you can tell, the HD does take up a lot of room. Once set up, there’s a certain feeling of commitment to sit down and really dig into the instrument. This musical outlet worked well for me as the strain to my wrists was almost nil while I worked through scales, hammering techniques and reading/playing HD tunes from HD playbooks and by ear.
Yep, I had fun!
My music ‘studio’ is nestled within a modestly sized bedroom, sharing space with a writing/computer area and a sewing/quilting area. If I have an unusually large project in the works or just need to spread out and ‘claim my space’ while creating (especially musically on several instruments at a time), my ‘studio’ overflows into the living room.
Luckily, Hubby understands the call & needs of the (he)artist. He actually encourages me to spread out and encroach on our living room whenever I need more space to create.
Meanwhile, enjoy this more traditional HD cover of Here Comes the Sun to get a feel for this dreamy, jangly instrument. If nothing else, that classic Beatles Tune is sure to bring a smile to your face and lighten your mood.
Perhaps you noticed the wall hanging on the brick wall over the fireplace. It serves as a subject clue as to what ‘creative activity’ I’ll be discussing in part three! (I’m)stay(ing)tuned…and yes, I do mean that literally. 🙂
Like a baby being born into an expectant family – the world revolves around that anticipated event while simultaneously continuing to turn daily on its axis.
Such is the life of a working musician – the ins and outs of projects going public and in various stages of completion with the on-going daily-ness of keeping up one’s chops, learning new repertoire, caring for one’s instruments, exploring the wide world of sound adventures while simultaneously creating a fresh crop of compositions/recordings and forging relationships with possible new performance partners.
So yeah, Gracie Needed A New Set of Strings…In Spades. She was neglected in that way. But truly in no other.
I recently unearthed a song sketch I recorded on my new-at-the-time ZOOM H4n handheld recorder after my literal Swimming with Swans* experience.
It definitely sounded way better than I remembered. Usually it goes the other way around – remembering something way better than it actually was.
Ah yes, after all these years – I hit the jackpot. Hidden in plain sight, I unwittingly discovered the namesake piece for the entire Swimming with Swans: The Music project!
All that to say, Gracie and I have been deeply ensconced in the nuances of deciphering what was recorded and translating it back under my fingers to play upon her lovely neck. Teasing to attention several other12-string pieces queued up for the next recording session (yet to be determined).
Now, if I keep the original recorded intro with those birds chirping in the background…tack it onto the future studio recording when the time comes… 😎
*This poignant experience occurred during the **Indiana sojourn part of our between homes time (from 3/2010 – 10/2010).
Swimming with Swans: The Music – Goat Suite (Saga) is officially released today, 3/11/2022
Brief background of this piece:
Smack dab in the middle of our three-year journey between homes experience, my husband & I lived on the compound in the desert outside Las Cruces, NM, by invitation of family members grieving the loss of a young child. We shared life with various ‘rescues’ of both the animal and human sort. Inspired by our family of rescue goats, their antics and their care for us as we cared for them and initially based upon musical intervals of their bleats, my GS(S) stands as an ‘homage’ to Mama Goat and her kids. In addition, it gives voice to the fact that those of us who have experienced or are currently in a period of displacement in a living situation or even state of mind, are not defined by that but live day-by-day, create works of beauty regardless, and share it with all who will listen.[Dedicated to Justice Marie Norwood (1/30/2008-8/26/2010)- a child filled with light & delight, never to be forgotten.]
Hop over to my Bandcamp page for details on how to order digital tracks and/or physical cds.
Around that same time, I read a post by my quilter blogger buddy, Mariss.
In another few days after that, I got sick with flu!
While I’m making up for lost time and will post an update on GS(S) release date details soon, the above does beg the question:
So, what does all of that have to do with William Blake?
Well, here’s the thing. Until I re-read that blog post and began a comment-conversation with Mariss, William Blake was not on my radar as a creative who faced technical hurdles in getting his poetry ‘out there’. Here now, was a comrade creative from the 18th & 19th centuries brought to my attention who had to tackle similar challenges as myself, an Indie Artist in the 20th & 21st centuries.
Me - Purplely delightful finish, Mariss. I'm wondering what is written on the backside, is it in Africaans?
Mariss - Good morning my sharp-eyed, purple-loving friend. Thanks for the chuckle. It is upside down Swahili. I think it is the brand name/reference number for the cloth…You no doubt surmised that I inadvertently used the cloth the wrong way round, unlike William Blake who purposefully etched his poems in mirror image (for the printing process).
Me - Upside down Swahili - very cool!
I did not know that about Blake – it seems us creatives are always having to learn new and weird skills just to get our (he)art out there!!! This is a huge comfort to me here in the 21st century because I often feel so isolated and impotent in the world of the virtual, techie and thrust-upon-DIY and am constantly having to learn and re-learn stuff just to ‘get anything out there.’
Yeah, coming up on a snag with some music release stuff. But at least I don’t have to play my music backwards to get it out there (my equivalent to Blake’s mirror writing).
Aside from my obvious reference to an old Beatles gimmick, that conversation piqued my interest in William Blake as an Indie Artist.
English poet, painter, and engraver William Blake epitomized the DIY ethic. During this period, Blake self-published some of his best known works, including Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience, and The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. He wrote the text, designed accompanying illustrations, and etched these onto copper plates. He then printed and colored the pages to create his illuminated manuscripts.
To clarify: ‘etching onto copper plates’ involved doing everything backwards for the resultant printed product to display content in normal orientation.
Mirror writing – technically called retrography – is the technique of inscribing letters and words backwards. Blake used this skill in order for his poetry to be printed.
In other words: Blake did the extra DIY steps of painstakingly learning methods of distributing his (he)art that went way beyond the scope of being a poet.
And in that, I find a modicum of comfort as a 21st century creative painstakingly navigating an endless DIY labyrinth of getting my own music ‘out there’ on my terms. Even after having released unexpectedin 2007, the internet tools of the trade have morphed considerably. Many are so far out of my league, yet some of them are indeed necessary, and often interesting, to learn.
All of it – in Blake’s 18th & 19th centuries and in my 20th & 21st centuries – takes time, effort and resolve in areas outside our/my desired focus, but necessary for achieving certain (he)artistic goals of ‘getting it out there’.
Indie music is not a genre, it is a method of getting one’s music out into the world in a world where major record labels do not bankroll indie artists.
Those are the things any day can bring – and are especially darkness busting on The Shortest Day.
Offerings I grasp onto, hoping to not miss any scrap of sunshine put out there to encourage me along the way through.
This year’s ‘shortest day’ forced its way into my brain. Insisting I pause, recognize and think on the myriad kaleidoscope bright spots, glimmers and slanting glow-rays of MMXXI.
From getting vaxxed, which enabled something as simple as getting a haircut and grabbing my first coffee at the new shop in town, to meeting up with a quilter-blogger buddy for the first time face-to-face at her home (and fantastic quilting studio) in NC. Plus numerous road trips made to Michigan and Chicago…mostly for fun, family gatherings, but also one that included sharing the grief with family due to the passing of my Aunt Adua.
In many cases, what was interrupted by 2020’s COVID crisis began to re-start this year in different ways…for our son that meant ‘how to get engaged, married and go on a honeymoon’ during a Pandemic. The beginning of the Pandemic caught him and his girlfriend hiking the Patagonia wilderness – a miracle story in and of itself of how they even got back on American soil…They are now honeymooning in Thailand.
In conclusion (!), the following just seems to put ‘the shortest day’ and ‘the longest night’ into a sort of musical representation of what I’m trying to convey in this winter solstice pondering – give it a listen.
“There are more than 7 wonders of the world – he (Stevie Wonder) is #8.”
Innervisions – Stevie Wonder
One of my favorite albums during my college years (1972-1977). Here’s a studio clip on recording ‘Living for the City’ which is as fresh and (unfortunately) relevant to today’s issues as it was then… all (he)artistically mastered by a master. What follows is the whole song as recorded on Innervisions.
For a touch of relief in this world of many troubles and plenty of social injustices I end this with Stevie’s “Don’t You Worry About A Thing” on this same album, Innervisions.
You can’t have it all, all at once. Who – man or woman – has it all, all at once? Over my lifespan, I think I have had it all. But in different periods of time, things were rough. And if you have a caring life partner, you help the other person when that person needs it.
Dear Teacher, You were my very first formal classical guitar instructor…
Thus begins an open letter I wrote years ago.
The new vistas that surfing the ‘net* opened up in the ’90s prompted me to try contacting my first classical guitar teacher to thank her for the role she played in my development as a musician. I posted a copy of my open letter on both** of the forums I was subscribed to at the time in the hopes it would yield a lead towards finding her. As was common in those days, this inadvertently started a new thread on each of those forums…that of honoring those teachers who most influenced the direction of our lives.
However, it did not bring about the desired outcome.
I have always wanted to thank-you for all you did to nurture my first forays into the world of classical guitar. I think you’d be proud of me. Not because I am anyone famous or great, but because you’d recognize the method of love I use in teaching others about our common bond: the classical guitar...
*a term bandied about along with riding the internet highway in the earlier days of internet development.