“God is watching us…from a distance.” ― Julie Gold
“There is no true greatness in art or science without a sense of harmony.”
Greatness is a pretty tough challenge. Harmony is a tough challenge as well. Technically, emotionally, socially, it is not easy to make music. I have a B.A. in Music/Vocal Performance, and almost two years ago, I took up the violin. Professionals make it look almost easy. I had no idea how difficult it is until I tried to produce some kind of pleasing sound whilst scraping a horsehair bow over a metal wire. The idea is rather ludicrous…as were my first attempts. Why do would-be musicians even bother?
This evening, my eldest daughter is performing Mahler’s 8th Symphony with the Madison Symphony Chorus…and a host of other musicians. After all, it’s the “Symphony of a Thousand”. Tomorrow, I am performing Mozart’s Solemn Vespers and Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna in a basilica known as Holy Hill.
It’s impossible to imagine the number of hours that go into producing a concert, from composition to performance. Similarly, from learning to speak to writing poetry, what motivates humans to communicate? Why bother to go further than grunting out urgent pain or danger?
There is something sublime, something divine in experiencing the mystery of being alive in a moment. Music is LIFE in a moment. Photography is LIFE in a moment. It is breath-taking, poignant, exhilarating to be able to show someone that LIFE and feel that they resonate with that experience. That is harmony — experiencing the resonance of LIFE with another being.
As a Lens-Artist, I hope to show you something that touches a chord. Thank you, Tina, for the invitation to be part of this challenge and share the art I’ve practiced.
“I am the joy in change and movement.” – Steve’s statement of identity from a Transformations School of Spiritual Psychology exercise.
I have always loved dancing, although I don’t always love change and movement in other areas of my life. My problem as a dancer has always been that I’m too cerebral and not as intuitive and fluid as I’d like to be, especially when learning someone else’s choreography. When I “freestyle”, I think I do better. It has to do with allowing yourself to open up and be unconcerned whether you’re “doing it right”, to just go with the flow of feeling and response. It feels fabulous to let myself move to music! I get a great sense of my biology and my emotions – and it gives my brain a much needed rest!
So what images come to mind when thinking of movement and freedom?
Water, clouds, wind, birds and bodies.
May you move joyfully through your day today, and thanks for your visit!
“The combination of simultaneous musical notes…having a pleasing effect.”
“The quality of forming a pleasing or consistent whole.”
I have a B. A. in Music/Vocal performance. Harmony is something that means many things to me. It evokes memories of listening to my late husband’s barbershop quartet rehearsing in the living room, listening to my children sing tight vocal jazz arrangements with their friends, and performing with church choirs week in and week out.
Harmony is rich and pleasing and ethereal. How do you photograph that feeling? You might think of going directly to musical instruments. Something like this:
Then again, that does not quite capture the mood. Perhaps it looks more like this:
Yes, I think that’s better!
This piece is featured in this month’s issue of The BeZine. To go to the interactive table of contents, click HERE.
Addressing this topic is a tricky proposition for me. How do I write about “Music” after a lifetime of being in its company, serious collegiate study, professional and semi-professional music-making and now coming to an ever-changing place of informal interaction with it? It is as daunting as writing about “Being Female”.
My partner Steve, who has a more organic relationship to music than I, often asks me, “What is music? Is this Music?” My definitions are vague. John Cage hears music in the sound of traffic. Why not? Steve stands by a babbling brook or a wide lake shore, closes his eyes and begins to wave and conduct the irregular but compelling rhythms. Music is an experience. It is felt and lived, by humans, most certainly, and perhaps by oceans, birds and the cosmic spheres. We can pick it apart, measure it scientifically, codify and teach it and all but kill it while still trying to communicate something beyond all those characteristics. I taught Voice lessons for a few years, giving rudimentary information on practical aspects of sound production and score-reading, but when it came time for a student to prepare for performance, I said something like, “Feel your confidence; trust your instrument; let go and SING!”
The music of the soul, singing, is not without dukkha, the intrinsic suffering of human life. Aside from Art or Artifice, singing is a conduit for emotion as vulnerable and raw as any primal utterance. Those who have guessed this often try to manipulate it or manufacture it for their own uses. Or they try to lose their egos and get as close to being on the edge as they can. Who are the great “emotive” singers you can name? Judy Garland is our favorite. Her story and her relationship with her music is a painful one, but we love to hear her inimitable voice and styling. I used to play my Wizard of Oz record over and over again and try to sound just like her…before I was 10. Before I knew much about suffering at all. She was all of 16 on the recording. She kept singing that song throughout her career. She knew exactly how to wring all the pathos of her life from that melody by the time she died. She did it repeatedly, convincingly each time.
Just two days ago, I read a passage about Singing that struck me with an entirely new impact. It is from Frederick Douglass’ own autobiography about his life as an African-American slave. It will haunt me now whenever I hear Spirituals or make up my own bluesy tunes in passing. This is written in Chapter II, a memory from before he was 10 years old:
“The slaves selected to go to the Great House Farm, for the monthly allowance for themselves and their fellow-slaves, were peculiarly enthusiastic. While on their way, they would make the dense old woods, for miles around, reverberate with their wild songs, revealing at once the highest joy and the deepest sadness. They would compose and sing as they went along, consulting neither time nor tune. …The hearing of those wild notes always depressed my spirit, and filled me with ineffable sadness. … To those songs I trace my first glimmering conception of the dehumanizing character of slavery… If any one wishes to be impressed with the soul-killing effects of slavery, let him go to Colonel Lloyd’s plantation, and, on allowance-day, place himself in the deep pine woods, and there let him, in silence, analyze the sounds that shall pass through the chambers of his soul,—and if he is not thus impressed, it will only be because “there is no flesh in his obdurate heart.” I have often been utterly astonished, since I came to the north, to find persons who could speak of the singing, among slaves, as evidence of their contentment and happiness. It is impossible to conceive of a greater mistake. Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy. The songs of the slave represent the sorrows of his heart; and he is relieved by them, only as an aching heart is relieved by its tears. At least, such is my experience. I have often sung to drown my sorrow, but seldom to express my happiness. Crying for joy, and singing for joy, were alike uncommon to me while in the jaws of slavery. The singing of a man cast away upon a desolate island might be as appropriately considered as evidence of contentment and happiness, as the singing of a slave; the songs of the one and of the other are prompted by the same emotion.”