Posts Tagged ‘Music

27
Aug
14

8.27.2014 – Waiting to Be Born

It’s a curious thought – how many songs does a songwriter have inside him/her – waiting to come out – waiting to be born?

I’ve been fortunate – up to now; I’ve never suffered from “writer’s block”.  It does seem like such a terrifying debilitating disease, doesn’t it – the freezing of one’s creativity.  Horrible thought!

Of course, not having writer’s block doesn’t mean that everything you write will be wonderful – I can certainly attest to that, but just the simple fact of getting a song written and finished is, in itself, a massive accomplishment in my book.  The birth of a song is a rather miraculous deed in my mind.  How, out of thin air, can come/emerge this thing, this noise and organization of notes and harmony out of the ether, out of the void.  Pretty damn weird – this human need to express oneself in sound, melody, lyric … to formulate a piece known simply as a song … a communication of spirit, I suppose, an organized utterance – made for the ears!! … and for the soul.

For me – even at this rather mature stage of my career – I feel filled up, absolutely chock-full – even engorged to bursting point, with songs waiting to be given life.  My challenge has always been to finish the songs I’m on … rather than to let the next one spew forth.  A nice problem to have, you may say, but sometimes for me it causes a traffic-jam of songs waiting for their moment in the sun.  I can get lost in the barrage of ideas pushing to get out!  It requires diligence to stay focused on the songs at hand, and to hold back the deluge at the floodgates.

There is not a better feeling in the world than finishing, wrapping-up a song.  It’s like putting a frame on a picture or painting – suddenly the work is completed … DONE!!!  – Sewn up – locked down – ended – DONE!!!  Lovely feeling.  And only the author can really say when his or her work is done – that’s just the true law of creative work.  It’s a powerful motivating force to a songwriter to get out what he knows is fermenting, brewing inside him.  Will the next song be “the one”? an undeniable gem of excellence? the special tune for which the world has been waiting?  That’s largely what keeps us going … not knowing if the next “child” that is born of melody, rhythm and harmony is to be unique, built to last and inspire … to generate reverence and accolades.

It’s a wonderful task – the task of allowing your creative juices to flow.  But I do call it a task, because you have to constantly be working, striving, sympathetically building the architecture of a song.  Very, very, very rarely does a song appear that doesn’t require some measure of “mothering” or nurturing of sorts.

But again, how many songs do I have inside me – that I can get out before kicking the proverbial bucket?  It’s obviously un-measurable.  I’m satisfied to know and feel that there are a lot more songs inside me – straining, begging, for their liberation.

Cheers.

– Martin

“Without music life would be a mistake”

              – Friedrich Nietzche

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07
Jul
14

7.7.2014 – Changing Moods

Really, what extraordinary power music holds over us? All my life, I’ve swayed to the tides of

music. Music can change my brain – can re-organise my emotions – can reconfigure me! This

invisible force is mighty indeed. Making us happy, joyous, sad, pensive, thoughtful – moving us

with ease from one extreme to another … music has its finger firmly planted in our emotions.

It has the power to move our feet, make our eyes cry, make us laugh out loud and make us fall in

love. We take it for granted – music is always there for us – no big thing, it’s always been there

… like air, water, fire … just – it has always been there.

 

But no, this is nothing to take for granted – because it is spiritual and a highly mysterious science,

Elemental – even divine. It is difficult to explain music. How does it penetrate us, seep through

our skin? Our hearts will actually beat in time to the rhythm, our bodies will move to the pulse;

our souls will be moved/touched by the melody and harmony. We will want to sing with and to it –

fall into it, own it – claim it as our own. Indeed, what power she holds!

 

At certain moments in our lives, we choose what type of music we need that suits us:

We are grieving and sad, we need music for that; we are gay, joyous and celebrative, we need

music for that; we are meditative and thoughtful, we need music for THAT. Every aspect of our

lives NEEDS music. I do think it is soul medicine: The invisible elixir that lights us up, heals us,

motivates us, encourages us, offers hope, keeps us going against the odds …. At least it has

been that for me. It’s hard to imagine a day without music, isn’t it? I think it would be a terrible

punishment in life to be banished from all music – horrific thought!

 

We live each day with our emotions and moods – our mental health is so important for

our physical health too. Our brains process all and decide who we are, what we do. Here’s

where music becomes so critical; it’s a mood changer – it has a direct line to our brains, and then

to our hearts. Thus it makes sense to view music as “soul medicine”, for it has the power to

shape our moods, and what shapes our mood, shapes us – shapes who we really are – shapes

whom we become.

 

Let’s not take it for granted … music is a pill for the spirit. Search out good music, and let

it be “the pilot of your soul”.

Cheers,

– Martin

 

“I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of

music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain. Life

seems to go on without effort, when I’m filled with music”

– George Eliot

 

“A person does not hear sound only through the ears; He hears sound through

every pore of his body, it permeates the entire being … In that way the physical

body recuperates and becomes changed with a new magnetism”

– Hazrat Inayat Khan

 

Photograph: Bobby Summerfield

Photograph: Bobby Summerfield

21
Apr
14

4.21.14 – Music in Nature

I often get a chance to retreat to local quiet gardens – open spaces untouched by human hand or technology.  I use these times to slow down, take stock – meditate.  And I’m always struck, when the sounds of the city eventually vanish, that I think I can hear a sort of music in these natural surroundings.  The wind in the trees, the bird song, the insects buzzing around, a pool of water rippling from a steady stream entering it, bushes rustling from squirrel activity – it’s all rather a symphony of natural improvisation to me.  If you close your eyes – focus solely with your ears – you can almost work out notes and scales being performed – hear the key of the countryside.  The low hum of a low note that grounds the always changing symphony of subtle close chords – a deep murmuring hush … then a fly buzzes by your right ear – a nut is being broken apart by a squirrel just behind your left ear.  It’s a surround-sound Avant-garde, ambient, experimental, improvisational piece that you’re listening to….  always changing, always interesting music of the spheres – spiritual.

Sitting in this nature, with eyes closed, allowing yourself to believe you are listening to a live concert, it really can become so.  We just have to set our brains to that frequency (the “radio of nature”).

I’ve held a long fascination with experimental ambient soundscapes and minimalistic, abstract music.  I’ve followed the work of artists such as Terry Riley, early Tangerine Dream, Eno, Cluster, Robert Fripp, Stockhausen, Sigur Ros, John Cage, David Sylvan, Steve Reich, Popol Vuh (band), and although electricity/synths/technology are involved, in many ways, I think this style of music gets close to the existential feelings we have in nature – and reflects the randomness, the vibrations, the profoundness of the natural world – the unknowable.  Even minimalist artists such as Terry Riley and Steve Reich somehow for me tap into an elemental truth of raw nature – its circular, ever-repeating, yet still random events.  For me, it’s those particular artists’ way of musically representing something elemental and deeply intense – humans’ response and reaction to nature & it’s terrible beauty – again, completely unknowable.  It’s Zen like, and of course, mathematical, as is nature; there’s a profound logic involved – a spiritual science.

If you get a chance, the next time you’re out in nature – away from the hubbub of the city, close your eyes; let your ears do the seeing.  It’s a real concert.

Cheers,

Martin

“Music is the pleasure the human soul experiences from counting

    without being aware that it’s counting”

– Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz – (Inventor of Calculus)

 

“The ear is the way”

                          – The Upanishads

 

“Can you hear the rushing of the river?  That is the way”

                  – Zen Buddhist saying

 

28
Feb
14

2.27.2014 – Why Not Love???

As a young, ego-fueled, pretentious, over-serious-minded songwriter/artist, I had decided that it was uncool to mention the word “love” in a song lyric … it was just downright uncool!  These days – still a songwriter, but somewhat more mature – I revel and delight in the idea of presenting “love”, in its many guises, in as many creative ways as I can within my art; it seems to be the most noble thing I can do.  After all, a little more of it is what we could all do with, isn’t it – Love.  But when you’re a super-cool young kid making tough, real, underground, important art – image is everything, and “love” is … soft.  I can’t quite believe that that was me, but it was. 

Funny really, how seriously I took such things – how little we perceive when we’re over-serious and self-righteous (and young).   I suppose it was part of my “right of passage” – a learning curve.  Yeah, let’s just call it that.

I admired the modern ironic, tough, skeptical lyricists that somehow spoke of love in ‘round about ways – skirting around the sentimental aspect of the subject.  I thought this was cool and I wanted to emulate it.  But, come on, The Beatles – “All You Need Is Love”!  There it is; let’s not hide the facts – nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of there.  STICK IT OUT THERE – OUT IN FRONT.  In fact, it’s rather brave and tough and real – actually rather cool – to speak of love, for in truth, it’s what we live for, strive for … and long for – even though we may not like to admit it sometimes.

As I loosened up over the years, love started to appear in my lyrics.  I tried not to fall into the “Hallmark Card” trap, become over-sentimental, but I did allow the word to poke its face in now and then – here and there.  And, low and behold – no loss of self-esteem!  Love breeds compassion, and that’s alright in my book.  So, let’s shout it from the rooftops – it’s a good thing.  If we can, we should spread the news whenever we can.  So my songs over the years have steadily allowed and incorporated love into its rightful place.

The word “love” (and its concept) is very often misinterpreted and frivolously overused, treated too lightly, without weight – its true significance banded around with carefree abandon.  It can be easily taken so many ways – its power can be lost in the translation.  We have become so used to using the word “love” for innumerable different reasons, that whenever I’m able to bring “love” into one of my songs, I try to show it some reverence and place it in a meaningful context if I can.

I don’t mean to beat the fun out of love by taking it all so seriously (as I did as a kid, banishing it altogether), but I do try to put it in a clear light – to be perceived for what it really is:  a very big “little” word, with big meaning and overtones… probably the most powerful word in our language.  For love is another word for “hope”, and that really is something we can’t exist without.

So, come on everybody – “All You Need Is Love”!  Sing it loud and sing it proud!

“All You Need Is Love”
-(by Lennon/McCartney)

 

“Everything You Do – do it for Love”
– (by Martin Page)

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