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Updated: Feb 2

Not long ago when I was seeking pre-publication blurbs for my first volume of poetry and approached Raven Crone, one of my BFFs who is a nomad, lives in the desert in Nevada much of the time, and wrote my guest blog on the hang drum. I received a most unexpected and interesting response to my manuscript. Her blurb said that she had given up reading books in general to concentrate on technical manuals and procedures, but reading my poetry brought her back into her body and spirit, and restored her interest in reading more widely.

Then my guitarist friend in Los Angeles, Tung Vu, agreed to write a blurb and said that he planned to read one of my poems at the end of some of his classes for young students, in order to inspire them or demonstrate a point in the lesson. When he read my second volume of poetry he responded that he felt inspired to go back and finally accomplish a few much-loved pieces he had only half-accomplished at the time and then look forward to playing music and delighting others well into his senior years!

These were completely unexpected results of my poetic efforts, and the surprise to me was quite a welcome one!

Both experiences set me to wondering once again:

How fascinating and curious it is that often in life, we think we are doing one thing but in fact, we end up doing quite another!

I am beginning to think that that is more the case than not, and that setting inflexible goals and pursuing intractable ways to reach them are not only exercises in futility and wasteful, but cause us to miss the pleasures in life that are out there for us to experience.

I just had another example last night.

Sometimes during the past two years I experience insomnia, usually waking up from 2 to 3 am. More than half the time I cannot go back to sleep because my brain starts working and I cannot stop it, or less frequently, I’ve had a bad dream that just won't go away long enough for me to fall back to sleep. (I find the above mysterious, magical, and inscrutable "Phoenix" statue carved decades ago from the remains of a burned tree that used to be on the patio of my favorite restaurant in the world, "Nepenthe" in Big Sur, an appropriate image for my feelings in these times). I’ve tried various remedies and some seem to work better than others, but nothing works all the time. I wonder if you know that experience, too?

Last night I awoke at 3 am and after tossing about a bit, I figured it would be another early morning and the only remedy was to get out of bed. I felt a bit of hand discomfort from a case of tendinitis from which I'm recovering, so I applied miraculous CBD salve (check out Sisters of the Valley), which works incredibly well to relax me and minimize discomfort, turned to the other side once again, saw my cell phone on the night stand, turned it on, and went to composer-pianist Garreth Brooke's YouTube presentation of one of his newest compositions,

"Waking." Seemed appropriate...

I chose to listen many times to this piece precisely because when I first heard it and sight read the score a few weeks ago (a piece which Garreth told me was a simple one that I might like to try), I "heard" the piece clearly and felt it inside my body. I decided to learn to play it because then, and last night, it created quite a wonderful response.

Halfway frustrated in my attempt to fall back to sleep and dreading the fatigue that always comes the next afternoon following incidences of insomnia, I decided to listen again and again in hopes of osmosing the rhythm of the piece composed in a new-to-me time signature of 2/2. There are also certain measures with challenging and interesting variations in rhythm and others with the sweetest harmonies that captivate, calm, and delight me, and at that precise point of restlessness, I needed some calm and delight!

I listened over and over again to the piece. Then I listened to another three pieces in Garreth's recent group of related compositions (Being), then sampled his latest unique experiment playing his composition "To Love" along with his partner who is not a pianist, and then listened to one more piece I love from a former album, "A Heavy Heart." I went back to "Waking" and thus, ended my musical sojourn with my cell phone on my pillow next to my ear as I gratefully drifted back to sleep again.

My early-morning experience speaks to the marvelous and universal potential for music to reach inside us during troubled times to help restore balance, calm, hope, and openness to the possibility of achieving what we think we need and want in that troubling moment or in life. And I wanted to go back to sleep!

Just as l use writing in my personal journal and blog and in writing poetry, sometimes composers use composition principles, music theory, and inspiration to create music and deal with complex life challenges. I also use dreams and being aware of what has by seeming casualty walked into my life, to do the same, as well as to experience bliss and feel deep joy.

I often seem to be doing one thing when I am doing multiple things that I don’t know I'm doing, or another unexpected or unintended thing results that holds a more important gift than achieving the goal I thought I sought, or at least it holds a gift of equally significant value.

Perhaps the sine qua non for receiving these kinds of surprising gifts is to become aware of the possibility and value of them, otherwise we may miss their arrival. Such a tragedy!

What I suspect composers are doing in their live, is not only finding deep personal comfort for themselves in the artistic process of composing— but also are contributing to the larger musical ecology in the community, and enhanced well-being for those of us who listen. They create and contribute in undefined ways that they may not know and never can know, by hearing and bringing to full bloom and life their lovely and often healing melodies.

Perhaps, then, any composer or musical artist is wise to eventually give up desiring a specific goal for the music they create, and just “let it be”-- as the Beatles so wisely said?

* * *

THE MYSTERY (from Vol I "Poetical Musings on Pianos, Music & Life)

Ah! The mystery of it,

The composer’s soul,

Her talents and vision,

A story foretold.

His drive and his goal,

Then both enmeshed:

Technique and the dream,

With both he is blessed.

Where do they get it?

The mystery unfolds,

There’s only one answer,

That I now behold.

All melodies exist

Already composed,

Floating in air,

But not yet exposed.

So one day she hears

A gossamer thread,

Reaches to the skies

Where her ear has led.

Grasps at the thread,

And gently tugs down,

This thread then another,

‘Til many abound.

Then relying on grace

With undeniable talent,

He weaves a fine carpet,

His time well spent.

But who is beneficiary,

The composer, or us?

Who flies on the carpet?

The listener, of course!

We mount to the skies

On her inspired grace,

His vision completed,

The circle in place.

THE COMPOSER (from Vol III, in progress)

Create you pale memories of

the original melody of love,

the one sung by the perfect lark

enraptured far above?

Circling high, she catches waves

in puffy cotton skies,

her delight in flight on full display;

in her, all pleasure lies.

And pleasure, too, in those of us

who listen to where she goes,

and to her song captured in your hand

and writ on scores below.

WRITING POETRY WITH MUSIC (from Vol III, in progress)

You write with sounds, I just realized!

There’s sense in that, but it requires

a lot of patience, open ears to hear

the meaning that you mean,

or if you wish to inspire

us who choose to attend

to what you compose.

Is it both those things that you bring to my table?

Or something else you intend

as I wend my way though your notes,

your magic touch of mind and hope,

the treasure trove I find in your music,

and I must conclude

that a creative bent did not you elude.

# # #

(If you resonate to this blog please sign our email ist and consider submitted a Guest log on a musical topic.)

On Musical Experiences

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