Pruney Fingers Performance

64 Arts


A few final lessons from the last few days attempts at something akin to music:

  • It’s really tough to tune these little suckers but it helps to have all the same shape and size of glass for each octave or progression of notes.
  • Fingers will get pruney with prolonged practice.
  • The sounds produced by an amateur aren’t so much music as a cross between a 1st year violin recital and whale’s calls.

I had a little fun with the audio file… Feel free to laugh–we did!

This performance was brought to you (unofficially) by Lay’s Honey Barbecue Chips and Doves Promises (the last one of which read “It’s okay to NOT do everything”… it’s like it KNEW I’d be the one to get it).

Now to finish my glass of ChocoVine.

(and if the player doesn’t want to work, click here for waterglasses)

Changing Tune?

64 Arts

So I finally broke out the tuner tonight with the idea of tuning the glasses for a total of 8 notes.

Yeah. About that…

The strangest thing happened tonight: I’d get about 3 glasses tuned, label them with a nearby sticky note and then play them in progression to make sure they sounded right.

Suddenly the notes weren’t the notes anymore! The hell?!

I’m beginning to see how this torture device instrument fell out of fashion–it’s maddening!

Still, I will soldier on because, hey, this is this week’s focus so what else am I gonna do?!

AND! For those who might have a use for an occasional tuner but don’t want to spend the $20 on a digital one, I was fiddling around with my phone (a Samsung Reality through Verizon) and it turns out there’s a Guitar Tuner application right there on the phone! It even had a one-day price for that try-it-out, perfect-your-pitch moment.

This isn’t over yet! Stay tuned…

What’s Your Anthem?

64 Arts

One of my favorite songs of, say, all time is Anthem by a (now-defunct, I believe) band named Corporate Whore. (You can listen to it in full here and download their CD–trust me, it’s worth it!–here.) My favorite line is

“do or do not, there. is. no. try. (that’s what Yoda says!)”

I mean, really, how can you not love a song that quotes Yoda?! My second favorite line (and it’s tough, because this is one of those songs with amazing lyrics that you can easily miss) is

“Knowledge speaks
But wisdom listens
That’s why I’m list’nin’ to myself”

I’m curious: does that read as more conceited or smirky to you OR, if you think about it a little bit, does it make absolutely perfect sense?!

Stay with me, now. The amazing Danielle LaPorte posted, the other day, that

Wisdom is information / experience translated into something that is useful + inspiring.

Now, here’s the funny thing: when I read this in Google Reader, I read the slash as an italicized ‘i’ which changed the meaning for me. Not just taking information or experiences and fitting them into a new home, but taking the information I have, FILTERING that through my experiences with the information and then translating that experience into something different or new.

I guess this is my own little version of a mondegreen. And yet, this totally works for me. So, see, even when we do something “wrong” we can get it right! The point I’m eventually making is that listening to oneself is less about conceit and more about honoring our own experience and the gut reaction, that little voice inside our head that is trying to give us insights if we’d just shut up and listen already!

And this totally fits in with what I wanted to say about anthems.

What is an anthem? The dictionary isn’t much help:

Main Entry: an·them
Pronunciation: \ˈan(t)-thəm\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English antem, from Old English antefn, from Late Latin antiphona, from Late Greek antiphōna, plural of antiphōnon, from Greek, neuter of antiphōnos responsive, from anti- + phōnē sound — more at ban
Date: before 12th century

1 a : a psalm or hymn sung antiphonally or responsively b : a sacred vocal composition with words usually from the Scriptures
2 : a song or hymn of praise or gladness
3 : a usually rousing popular song that typifies or is identified with a particular subculture, movement, or point of view <anthems of teenage angst>

— an·the·mic
\ˌan(t)-ˈthē-mik, -ˈthe-\ adjective

Snore. Way to take the fun out it.

First: what’s with the derivation drill down to something that equates to “one who is against sound”? That’s totally backwards from what an anthem is! Spiritual? Meh. Even praise and gladness are just sort of sitting there, doing nothing to actually inspire. Definition 3 gets closer to the heart of it but then shoots itself in the ever-lovin’ foot by giving a negative example.

But wait! We’re talking about one of the 64 Arts here, and what is art? An exercise in creativity and interpretation. So…

Time for a DIY definition!

  1. Back and forth litany of responses (antiphony)  is out, Spirited self proclamation is in!
  2. Praise and gladness–while okay–is still out, in favor of Riotous wonder and amazement!
  3. I don’t think a song has to be popular to be an anthem (although they probably mean that as in common to the populous, but anyway), it just has to resonate with you–it’s your song. Rousing is good, but I think we can do better: A song of personal resonance that inspires and activates!
Because, to me, an anthem is something that makes your heart swell, beat with pride, and makes you want to do something–something awesome–and gets your ass out of the chair long enough to make a difference.
What about you, what’s your anthem?

Powers to Soothe the Savage Beast

64 Arts

Not so much savage, more like ravaged.

Have you ever had a day when you just felt, for lack of a better word, fragile?

I had one of those days a couple weeks ago. Preceded by an emotional roller coaster the day before, I began this particular day uber-sensitive to everything and everyone. I couldn’t stand the talking heads on my podcast list. Voices of coworkers grated on my nerves. Even music was annoying.

Those lyrics, those words, trying to tell me what happened to someone else , somewhere else, at a time when I wasn’t there? Forget about ’em. Because that’s what songs, at least the good ones, do: they tell stories, they paint pictures and those pictures are populated with people and emotions and all manner of things to evoke an emotional response. Happy. Sad. Angry. Lonely. Loving. Dreaming.

I wanted no part of them.

But silence is deafening. Silence gives my mind way too much leeway to ramble in circles around what’s bugging me or what I “should” be doing or feeling or–do you see the pattern here?

If music paints a picture and lyrics populate it like a busy city, what I needed was a landscape.

Enter If you haven’t heard of this, it’s one of many Internet music services out there. This one uses the music genome project that classifies songs, albums and artists under a variety of criteria so that when you tell it “I like this song by REM” it shuffles through and picks other songs with things in common. You create a station by seeding it with songs or artists and then offer feedback by giving the songs you like (for that station) a thumbs up, and those you don’t a thumbs down. Fairly simple.

For this particular day (okay, it lasted a few days, actually) I cocooned myself in a mix of New Agey sounds of piano and guitar. No vocal music unless it was mostly indecipherable (meaning I let some Enya in, but not much). It’s a small step, but it helped. The music helped settle some of the inner turmoil and allowed me to get on with my work and come back to my usual personality in a much gentler fashion.

If you’re having one of those days, I’m happy to share my Gentle Days Station with you.

Life’s Little Soundtrack

64 Arts

Shakespeare said “all the world’s a stage.” While live theater still gets much respect these days, movies allow for wider exposure of ideas, characters, emotions and the like.

And almost every film we watch has a soundtrack.

Whether we perform for others or just ourselves, I think we all deserve our own soundtrack–even if only we can hear it.

Now, most soundtracks seem to have a balance between songs with lyrics–title songs, a particular ballad if the movie is a romance, that sort of thing–and instrumental pieces or made-for-the-movie scores. In musicals, the wordy bits are, out of necessity, more prevalent while the more serious a movie seems to be, the fewer words show up in the music.

Unless you’re a composer yourself (or really good at sampling and mixing, I suppose), it’s easier to use songs already out in the world to build your personal soundtrack.

In high school (so many music memories go back to school, don’t they?) I was introduced to Yanni. Now, I understand he’s got a bad rap in some circles (not going to try to pigeon-hole those circles, but they also tend to guffaw at John Tesh and his ilk, as well) but I’ve always found his music fascinating. This sort of music is the kind of wonderful, powerful stuff that is the background music to my life and really came in enough flavors (brooding, lilting, frenetic, calm) to fit just about any situation.

The difference between movies and life (well, one of them at least) is that movie moments are planned so the composer knows just when to write in those crashing cymbals or lonesome bassoon. Life, on the other hand, is largely unplanned and we’re often left adding music to the moment after the fact. Unless, of course, you just happen to keep a handy playlist for all occasions at hand and have really fast reflexes.

Still, some moments are planned. Weddings are a good example of a life-moment that can be scripted and scored (to an extent). I’ve heard it’s not uncommon to pick a particular song or album to listen to during childbirth. Parties can benefit from a good amount of background music to enhance or lead the theme along.

And then there are private moments. Maybe you have one of those coming up this weekend for Valentine’s Day?

Let’s face it. As “sexy” as some songs purport to be, when you’re in the moment some of those lyrics can get just a little cheesy, setting off a case of the giggles or just ruining the mood altogether. Prevent that by sticking to instrumentals, folks.

My top suggestions for private moments (of all sorts, really, not just Valentine’s lurve sorts)

Yanni’s In My Time; a great album in total, lots of lilting piano, but my absolute favorites would be “Before I Go” and “Felitsa”

Armik’s Rain Dancer; flamenco guitar, a mix of smooth and fast songs, good for more playful evenings or a salsa feel; were I making a mix specifically for romantic purposes, I’d use “Concierto de Aranjuez” and “Golden Palms”

Tomas Michaud’s New World Flamenco Jazz; the first time I heard “French Kiss” it caused an immediate, involuntary gasp as a shiver ran up and down my spine in the best possible way; “Winds of Time” and “Eyes Like the Moon and Stars” are also favorites for the same reason

You can thank me later. Just not specifically. That might be kinda squicky.