Bee Writes is asking for people to go to Youtube and boost the video with likes and by following. You could also check out those two blogs, they are well worth a read.
To pummel your skin,
with resounding rhythm,
pa pat rat tat, pa pat rat tat, pa pat rat tat,
thrumming, thrumming, drumming, drumming,
as we go marching on.
©Paul Vincent Cannon
Sade, Mazzy Star, Stevie Nicks, Sarah Brightman, Carla Bruni, Hannah Reid, the list goes on, all with unmistakable mellifluous voice. Enya is supreme, that honeyed, mellow, smooth, hypnotic voice captivates, inspires and lifts the soul. She is unmistakable, her Celtic influences in looks, sound and word, are all striking.
Enya, Eithne Padraigin Ni Bhraonain (Enya Patricia Brennan) born of a large and musical family was known for her role in the group Clannad, and then in her solo work from the early 1980s where she burst upon the charts with a string of hits. She is intensely private, and has never done a concert tour as a solo artist and rarely performs on TV. She has a number of music industry awards behind her, and many chart successes. She can play several instruments and her vocal range is mezzo-soprano and instantly recognizable. Enya refers to her voice as an instrument.
The first time I heard Enya was in 1989 with her second album Watermark and the single Orinoco Flow, and I was hooked immediately. If I’m needing something peaceful yet not passive (those two should never be confused) I like to listen to her music, which I find nurtures my soul. So in that sense she is my soul food. I find that her voice transports me beyond the carcophany of the daily and into a melodic and contemplative space.
Some of my favourite Enya quotes:
“There is no formula to it. Writing every song is a little journey. The first note has to lift you.”
“The success of Watermark surprised me. I never thought of music as something commercial; it was something very personal to me.”
Enya never sought commercial success and refuses to live as a star or to court fame. Her commitment is to her passion to write and to create music. I think it’s obvious really that her success has come from focussing on the heart of her passion. And her music has attracted people even before they knew who she was, so that it wasn’t originally personality based, her success was firmly based in the music itself. That itself is a gift. If we take her as an example, then to live out of the heart brings our creativity and passion to life in powerful ways.
Photo: My thin places are the bush: A walk trail near Bridgetown.
The ancient Celts believed that there were places one could go where people and the spirit world could touch. The Celtic influence on Christianity was such that this belief carried over, that the veil between heaven and earth was thin or transparent. The barrier between human and the divine were almost non-existent. For the ancient Celts these places were mostly forrest groves, but in other cultures they are rivers, billabongs, monoliths, mountain-tops, caves and more.
Not the same, but related in some aspects, the Australian Indigenous peoples created songlines, which trace the creation of the land, the fauna and lore, by ancestral spirits. Indigenous Australians used the songlines as navigation paths, for social connection, cultural knowledge – especially coming to know the flora and fauna, the availability of water, the types of seasons, and how it all came to be. Songlines are places to touch the past and the present.
My thin places are in the bush, these are liminal, threshold places, where the mind transcends the ordinary, where the soul is restored, where the heart is lifted, and the eyes are filled.
Thin places might be Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu, Uluru, Chartres Cathedral, the Pyramids, the Himalayas, the stars, meditation, music, art, and more, places or experiences of place that awaken the soul to something more, something outside the self, something veiled but near. Whether or not this is a spiritual experience or a transcendence of some other kind, thin places are restorative, they are places of contemplation, places of beauty, awe, play, rest, and renewal. We all need thin places, we will know them differently, but we will know them. They are treasures to fill the soul.
John O’Donohue wrote: “When you begin to sense that your imagination is the place where you are most divine, you feel called to clean out of your mind all the worn and shabby furniture of thought. You wish to refurbish yourself with living thought so that you can begin to see.”
Camille Saint-Saens is credited with the first use of mallet percussion in an orchestra in 1874.
The video is a performance piece by the famed percussionist Evelyn Glennie and guitarist Fred Frith (he of Henry Cow) improvising in a vacant factory. Glennie is internationally noted for her use of mallets, the striking sticks used to play a number of instruments like the marimba and the zylophone. Glennie is stunning to watch in concert, and what makes it more intersting is that since she was twelve, she has been profoundly deaf. Which goes to show that what we might consider as a barrier, a disability, an impediment or block may not necessarily be so. Glennie is on record (see her TEDx talk, also on Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=383kxC_NCKw ) as saying that deafness is misunderstood, and that she used other parts of her body to learn to listen.
In a twist of irony, the malleus or hammer shaped bone is a part of the ear, which for Glennie, is parallel to her work in percussion. The musical mallet is used to strike an object, an instrument, in order to create a vareity of sounds that will be heard. The act of striking is an intentional process, persistent, rhythmic, hopeful, that a sound will be yielded by wood, skin, or metal, that can be heard.
I am struck (no pun intended) by the idea, and the reality, that you can train yourself to listen with different parts of the body. Some of this we know – in some forms of meditation we are learning to listen with the heart, and also the body as a whole. Music can evoke a range of emotions too that enable us to listen deeply and with different parts of the body, the skin included. My heart races with some music, whereas with some other types of music my heart is overcome, other music makes me warm, or gives me goosebumps, sometimes I have different feelings around pieces of music, for me there is always a bodily reaction. For the musician it can be an ecstatic response, have you ever noticed of someone who is playing an instrument just how emotionally connected they are with what they are playing?
Clearly, if you have a passion for something, then that can sometimes help you overcome difficulties in order to follow and achieve that passion. And passion opens the door to the heart. Besides, we commit more to what we really love and enjoy most. If you have a passion for something, your heart is already deeply engaged, so that it is not just will power or intellect that drives you. Music also has an advantage in this as it is considered to be healing in its own ways.
How I see it, we need to open our hearts to that which can move and transform us, to find that which potentially heals us. We need to get in touch with what our passions are, and we need to deeply listen with out bodies. As passion strikes at our heart, just like percussion mallets, the door to healing and creativity opens, then, who knows what can happen? For Evelyn Glennie, percussion was a way to both listen, and to be creative, and in spite of her profound deafness.
In 2013 The Bridgetown Cidery became home to a regular Folk Music Night, where local artists performed both solo and together as a band. In the Photo above we have Daun on percussion, a woman whose name I sadly can’t remember, Mary Myfanwy (who has her own solo career), and Adrian Williams (who can play a number of string instruments) who was a catalyst for the venture. This was taken July 2014 when I was still living in the town. I regularly attended these events because I love folk music, and on occasion there’d be something from the archive of Steeleye Span or Fairport Convention, among others. It was a fabulous time.
When I was around three years old, I have a distinct memory (I can still locate myself by a song, even my mood at the time on some occasions) of the songs of Peter, Paul and Mary, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, and Bob Dylan (who I met in 1978 in Perth) and I have ever since had a soft spot for folk music of many kinds. My mother always had the radio on, BBC of course, and through those long English winters, trapped indoors, it was wonderful to be able to listen to music of all kinds. Fats Domino, Lonny Donegan, Cliff Richard and the Shadows, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Tom Jones, The Platters, Gene Vincent, Sam Cooke and more became known to me by their songs, it would be some years later that I would identify the songs by those who sang them. I loved music, I loved participating too. As with all children I was in the school “orchestra or band” I played the triangle, and eventually graduated to tambourine. I sang in a church choir for a time as a child, but when my voice broke it was deemed better that I not do that anymore 🙂
The sixties music had a profound effect on me. Who could ever deny the impact of the Beatles, but so many good songs and the bands who brought them into being.
My school band days migrated to the Australian school system where everyone was expected to learn to play the recorder (which drove my teachers and my Parents mad) and every class had a singing session weekly to learn songs. I loved it all. I never did learn to read music, and for a brief moment in time I started to learn to play bass guitar, and was in a couple of attempted start-up bands. I did write some songs, but found I was a better poet than a straight up song writer. It was all good fun.
When I was in my teens, music, like reading, was a great escape, and I found music could also lift my soul, that hasn’t changed, it still does. I have my favourite songs, but I have a broad love of music and genre, from from folk to pop, blues to rock, gospel to hip hop, and classical and jazz. I have really enjoyed fusion, and the collaboration between cultures as pioneered by people like Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, George Harrison, and including Robert Plant, and many others.
I find music affects me body, mind and soul. There are some songs or pieces that bring me goose-bumps, and ecstasy, others are deeply meditative, some energising.
Even the very serious Friedrich Nietzsche once said: “Without music, life would be a mistake.”
I agree, it would be a tragedy. But thankfully humanity is creative and expressive and we have a vast body of ever growing work to choose from. I wonder what your favourite song is? Perhaps like me you find it hard to choose just one. For me, in this moment, Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changin” In 1964, it was a very real song, an anthem. But now it is more – it is my constant hope.
Music,chocolate, red wine, a definite penchant for these and more, but my real penchant is the bush. It’s where I’m most whole, where I’m most centered, where I feel I can breathe, body, mind and spirit. I find the bush deeply moving and deeply spiritual. For me it is a relational thing, this living breathing stuff is part of me and I am part of it. It is also one of my muses, and it gets my creative juice flowing. A day in the bush, a week on a trail, camping, bush walking, whatever, restorative and energising.
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