Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Green Spring

"The spring day is clad in brightest green.
The morning sun
Floods the hills in golden glory.
From early morn till dusk
The garden is filled with nodding flowers
Of every shade and hue.
We walk to and fro,
And laugh and sing,
And discuss philosophy,
Or gaze afar and drink our fill of nature's beauty.

Suddenly comes a knock at the garden gate.
The guest of honor has arrived!
With grave and old-fashioned ceremony
We greet him,
Raising high
The three ritual cups of wine."

Sung Dynasty
960-1278 A.D.

(From Poems of The Hundred Names, opened randomly...)

Monday, March 9, 2009

'Who is a good musician?'

Lately I have been inspired to read music, which has been nice. Music in my head, inside my ears, whorled sounds. Most satisfying when done late at night when the outside world has grown quiet.

This mostly came about from reading an article by the composer Zotlan Kodaly entitled 'Who is a good musician?'
Although some of it is dated or refers specifically to classical music (he wrote it for an audience of music students in Hungary in 1954, at a time when he and others were trying to further and better music education while developing a specifically Hungarian classical music culture), here are a few excerpts that felt relevant or inspiring:

'Rather play an easy piece well and beautifully than a difficult one in a mediocre way.'

'Try to sing, however small your voice, from written music without the aid of an instrument. This will sharpen your ear. But if you have a fine, sonorous voice do not hesitate to train it; consider it the most beautiful gift of Heaven.'

'You must learn to understand music on paper, too.'

'When you are playing, do not be concerned about who is listening to you.'

'If you have done your daily work in music and you fell tired, do not persist. It is better to rest than to work without freshness and the right mood. To rest, read poetry.'

'Walk often in the open air.'

'Do not miss any opportunity to play with others. Thus your playing will become fluent and buoyant.'

'If everybody wanted to play first violin, there could not be an orchestra. Honour every musician in his own place.'

'Make friends with those who know more than you.'

'Be modest! you have not yet devised anything that was not thought of before by others. And if you succeed in inventing something new consider it as a gift from above, a gift you have to share with others.'

'So who is the good musician? [...] You are one [...] if the music lives not only in your fingers but in your head and heart, too.'

'Listen to all folksongs attentively, for they are the treasure trove of the most beautiful melodies and through them you get to know the character of peoples.'

'When you start composing do everything in your mind first.[...] If the music has come from the core of your being, if you have really felt it, it will have the same effect on others, too.

'Look into all aspects of life, other arts and sciences too.'

'Without enthusiasm nothing good can be born in art.'

'Art is not a means of gathering riches. Be an even better artist, the rest will come by itself.'

'[...] the characteristics of a good musician can be summarised as follows:
1. A well trained ear
2. A well trained intelligence
3. A well trained heart
4. A well trained hand.'

From my heart to yours.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Well, the rainy spring I had been wishing for has arrived. We're drenched but happy for all that needs to grow. Getting into raincoats and boots. I have been listening to Emmanuelle Parrenin a lot and planted some flowers and bulbs. Some shows are in the works, we just confirmed March 20th at Adobe Bookstore, it should be a great night. Chloe will do a set and we'll sing some together, and this sweet duo from Portland, The Woodlands, will lull your socks off.
I'm also very excited to announce that the Scottish label Autumn Ferment Records will be releasing Bumblebee in June, as part of a split single with the delightful Emily Scott. Autumn Ferment are a new label out of Forres, Scotland. They've been releasing a nice stream of some of the best new psych/folk music around. One of my favorite things about them might be their involvement with the Caledonian Forest restoration project Trees For Life. See how they do it.