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Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Do I write this post with a tad of guilt? I do. I feel like I have neglected my wonderful blog and disappointed … who? I notice that many of my contemporaries in blog posting have not been writing either. Hmmmmm ….

An effect of the pandemic? Are we all on to different things? Just not writing?

In the kitchen, keeping Jazzy company while she ate her lunch, I realized how restless I am. I want to do everything, but yet I really want to curl up with a good book and do nothing (but read). Life had been so crazy busy for so long, and then I left my very-often-intense work in the humane field. It was exactly what needed to be done, and along with some of that work was the pandemic. Working from home, staying at home for my safety, getting all too used to being home. Not liking it. It’s very comfortable and I live in a beautiful part of the state, but needing more. Restless.

Now that I can actually think, what do I want to be when I grow up? (You may have read about my ponderings on this subject in previous posts.)

Working on that, but meanwhile … I am always reading and always listening to music. Two constants. So while I work on the direction of my life, here are my 2023 reads so far, and all recommended unless otherwise noted. Not in order of being read.

The London Seance Society – Sarah Penner (currently reading)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
– Mary Ann Shaffer – Excellent!
The Lost Apothecary – Sarah Penner
The Lost City of the Monkey God – Preston Douglas – didn’t finish, non-fiction, but not my type.
Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng – Excellent!
The Book of Longings – Sue Monk Kidd
Now You See Her – Linda Howard
Night Music – JoJo Moyes
Secluded Cabin, Sleeps Six – Lisa Unger

Perhaps you will find something of interest. Perhaps you will share something of interest, as I know any followers of mine are also readers. Whatever you may be doing, I hope you are happy in your days. I am always hoping you are as content as possible in our so-often-challenging world, and finding the small and simple joys that are right there in front of us, waiting to be noticed. Till next time …

p.s. In reading a comment on this post, and following up, I see that I have not been getting any notices of posts from my blogging buddies. Went into my settings and see something different than I remember. I hope this solves the problem, and my apologies to my friends who may have thought I was not reading and responding. That explains what I wrote above!

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Lately, I find myself drifting back through time. It seems necessary to my creativity for me to go back before I can go through.

I am searching – I want to use my writing and art to reach out in a different way than I have in the past. How will I do that?

Conversations about art, music, and writing with people in my life now get me reflecting. And remembering … recently, I felt a song trickling through my mind. It was a Peter, Paul and Mary song, but I could only grasp a phrase. A search brought it back to me – Bob Dylan’s Dream. And with it, a flood of memories.

One memory was of my junior and senior years in college when four friends and I would hang out in the evening in Susie’s apartment and play music and sing together. They all played guitar, and we all could sing and knew a wide range of folk songs. Just sitting and singing and playing by candlelight into the wee hours of the morning were such incredible times. I don’t yet know how that memory will play a part in my going forward, just that it will.

Bob Dylan’s Dream, written by Bob Dylan, sung by Peter, Paul and Mary, 1967

I recently went to see a fabulous show of Japanese printmaking from the 1950’s to the present. I looked so, so closely at those stunning prints, noticing just how they were made, recalling the necessary techniques. I studied printmaking for two semesters – woodcutting, etching, and lithography. And these masterful Japanese prints brought that back, too.

“Red Wall”-1992. Zinc etching and woodblock print on paper by Hodaka Yoshida

I am being readied. I am preparing for some leap forward that I cannot yet see, but these memories are stirring the things I need to know, so long put aside while I did other things with my life. Sometimes it seems like I’m dreaming or wasting time, but I know I’m not.

I’m taking a deep breath and – not always so easy – trusting in the process.

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The fact is, I write every day – I journal – but I miss writing. I want to say “real writing”, the kind that isn’t just one’s personal ups and downs, the efforts to figure things out, the daydreams and fantasies. (Because none of that is real, right? Haha.)

Maybe a year ago, needing to become more active on social media to promote my children’s book, I discovered Instagram. I love IG because it feeds the visual aspects of my heart, my mind, my soul in a very different way than writing does. So I’ve been hunkered down over there for a bit. (Please come visit me on Instagram @jeannebalsam )

An extremely simple example of AI art using Midjourney and the prompt “A swimming pool filled with stars on a moonlit night.” Image courtesy Wikipedia

And what have I found? A community of children’s book people, an immense amount of positivity, and an endless treasure trove of art that is firing up my brain. Some of it is illustration, some is videos/reels, but a great source of fascination is the AI art (Artificial Intelligence) – see above. People using programs such as Midjourney are creating often fantastical images, but to my mind, I see magic.

I love that in every way – art, writing, music – and it seems that some magic is calling to me. I want to be where the magic is, for it to take me and my art to some new, unexpected places. It sparkles.

Still, I miss writing. I feel like I am being readied for some new union between word and image. After being absent for a bit, I also miss my friends here on WP who inspire me, too. (But I’m getting to you …)

Where is your magic? Is it dancing? Is it calling you?

A little inspiration of late – 51 minutes of uninterrupted beautiful music that fills me with dreams. Maybe you, too.

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We are all challenged in so many ways nowadays – every single one of us on this planet. Some days more, some days less. I wanted to make a meme that might touch everyone, and would give you hope, some encouragement, no matter what you are dealing with today. Here’s what I came up with.

Does this work for you?

And then … a note on social media, that ever-hungry, (sometimes) beast that would like to devour our time. But here’s something I really like about it, particularly on Instagram. I am finding so much new music to love, thanks to people I follow who share it on posts and reels.

That I am being exposed to music in different genres, from different cultures, in different styles – it just makes my heart sing. The following is one of the loveliest pieces I have heard in a while. I guess you would call it folk/pop (?), and the song is “Bloom” by Lullanas. Thanks to @sawsanakar for opening my ears and heart to this piece. I hope you enjoy it.

May you be well, looking forward to an enjoyable weekend, and maybe just a little inspired.

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Speaking for myself, I have loved music and have been dancing all my life. How about you?

So when I came across this, I wanted to be up dancing — it was Bruno Mars, after all — but I was too mesmerized by what was happening on my screen to even so much as look away for 2 seconds. Check out this compilation of movie clips, all before 1953, impeccably timed to “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars, and watch on YouTube!

If you’re not smiling after watching this, please take two aspirin and call me in the morning.

The amazing video was created by Nerd Fest UK, who comments on the magic of editing:

“Film Editing is the one art form unique to the cinema. All other constituent parts of the medium derive from something else that came before. Writing and composing had been around for centuries; production design, special effects, acting and directing all came from the theatre, and sound was a later development following on from the phonograph. Even cinematography had an ancestor in photography. But editing had no ancestor. It was invented by the cinema and remains the essence of it.”

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Certainly one of the joys of the internet is how you may start in one place and travel down a path to someplace magical. It started a few days ago. I was visiting one of the blogs I follow, Salmon Brook Farms, and there I found a video of it’s author, Lavinia, playing acoustic guitar and singing. A Martin guitar, I found out upon inquiring. Her playing is exquisite  and the sound of the Martin, so very soulful. It made me remember how much I love this kind of music.

acosuticguitars2

For me, and perhaps for you, music has framed many life experiences. You could play me any number of different songs in any number of types of music and it would be as if a spotlight turned on, and a video played of some segment of my life gone by, complete with the people there at the time, location, and every feeling I went through in that moment. Music is so very powerful and weaves intricately with memory to form these deeply felt emotions. I realize how much I have missed it in my life of late.

So when I listened to Lavinia playing, I thought of all the wonderful acoustic guitar music I have right here in my house, going back to early folk, and including guitarists like John Fahey and Robbie Basho (these on albums), John Renbourn (on tape), right to more current times on CD (Snuffy Walden, Nightnoise, Jeff Johnson – with Brian Dunning – and others) and one of my all-time favorites, Will Ackerman. To say the man is incredibly gifted is an understatement. So while part of my day today was earmarked for me to be at my desk working on taxes, I saw an opportunity to turn on my Mac with it’s wonderful sound system, and which sits on the desk immediately behind me, tune in to YouTube, and listen to Will.

Among his many songs, all written by him, I found a video of him playing what he considers his best song, The Bricklayer’s Beautiful Daughter, below.

But what truly touched me was in another video in which he discussed his work over the last 35 years, how he creates, and samplings of his music. I found that the piece I most love, The Impending Death of the Virgin Spirit, was written to express the feeling of Will’s innocence the night before his mother took her life when he was 12. I have always been deeply moved by this haunting song from the moment I heard it; now I know why.

Will Ackerman is just one of numerous outstanding musicians to record on the acclaimed Windham Hill label, which he founded, never imagining it would become as immensely successful as it did. You can learn more about him on his website, where he also shares tunings for his songs by album.

I’m just listening as I work and finding my every nerve ending remarkably soothed. If acoustic music appeals to you, check in on Lavinia, too, whom I thank for pointing me on this path of rediscovery. I’ll be listening more.

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This has to be one of the most joyful pieces of music I know. I have the original album (yup, that dates me!) where this song was also the album title – Oh Happy Day by the Edwin Hawkins Singers. The video quality, due to its age, is quite poor, but the music is live and as electrifying as ever. Turn up the volume, people – it’s Christmas!

Hope yours is happy.

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For anyone – and everyone – who’s had a rough day …

NotHowTheStoryEnds2

And if you’re a woman who’s ever doubted her beauty, take a toddle over to my blogging buddy, 47whitebuffalo’s blog, and enjoy a wonderful listening experience with Aldrey’s “Mirate” (Look at Yourself.)

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I was visiting the site of a fellow blogger, 47whitebuffalo, who periodically offers themes for us visitors to add to with musical choices. Her most recent was the theme of Love to fly in the face of the upcoming Friday the 13th. And one of the most magnificent pieces of music came to me. I added it to her blog, but then … why not share it here?

We’re going back in time on this one – What Love (Suite), (which I have on vinyl, BTW), was released by The Collectors, a Canadian band, in 1968. One could discuss the merits of various pieces on the album, but the sax solo is indisputably one of the most soulful pieces of music I have ever heard in my life.

There are no stunning visuals on this video – its all for your ears … enjoy.

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When was the last time you danced?
A question put to the sick by a Native American medicine man

This headed up the June 24th post by Mark Nepo in his The Book of Awakening. And I had to stop. When was the last time I danced? When was the last time I sang? Or really laughed hard? And the answer I came up with was that whenever it was, it was too, too long ago. And that got me pretty bummed. I love to dance.

There are periods in our lives when dancing is just so low on the agenda that we forget all about it. Although I vaguely remember dancing about the kitchen, holding one of my cats when she was really not doing well. I thought a loving waltz might help. I’m guessing it did, I’m sure as much for me as her.

Dancing is wonderful and I’ve been dancing for as long as I can remember. Lately? Not so much. With all that’s been going on I’ve barely listened to music or read a whole book. Yesterday, with a number of stressful situations at least partially resolved, I decided to change all that. I looked through my CD’s and put on a favorite that I haven’t listened to in a long time, p.s. A Toad Retrospective from Toad the Wet Sprocket. I  came across them in the early 90’s and  have several of their albums; I love their sound and this compilation is their best.

I hit “Play” and grabbed my book, Skinny Dip, something cool to drink, and sat down on the sofa and read. And read. And read `til I finished the book. (Yes, I did make dinner for all those who were hungry and then continued reading.)

OK, I didn’t dance.  But I listened to music I love and allowed myself something I rarely do … to simply relax and enjoy. I admit I am still feeling a wee bit guilty, but all the things I didn’t do are still right here waiting for me, and today is another day. Dance? That might happen at any time.

So you might ask yourself … when was the last time you danced? sang? laughed so hard you couldn’t stop? I’m certainly no medicine man, but if the answer is anything like mine was … maybe you, too, need to carve out a little “you” time. Put on the music and see what happens.

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