Unsung Songs

Several years ago I wrote a blog about how sound moves not only through the air and aether, but also through our bodies, our eardrums, and our hearts, and deep into your memory. Since even before recorded history on stone tablets, humanity has had an intimate relationship with sound, notes, melodies and harmonies, and rhythm. It should come as no surprise that vibrations resonate through every one of us.

We live on a planet of rhythm and time.  A planet that completes its cycle around the sun every 365 days, with a moon that cycles around us every 28 days, and we rotate around our own axis every 24 hours.  These cosmic cycles and our bodily ones, all connected to the circadian dance of day and night.  The mystery of rhythm and time found for a moment in the soul’s drum.  When it is right, you feel it with all your senses, every thread of your being.  It is the ‘sweet spot’ of connection.

If the rhythm is right, if the translation between inner mood and the drum membrane are perfect, then you know it instantly. “Ah, this goes with my body tempo, this connects how I feel today, how fast my heart is beating, what my thoughts are, what my hands feel like.”

When the rhythm is right you feel it with all your senses, every corner of your soul and being. You don’t fight it, but instead allow yourself to be propelled and consumed by its insistent yet familiar feeling.  All sense of the present moment disappears, the normal categories of time become meaningless. —— Mickey Hart, Drumming At the Edge Of Magic – A Journey Into the Spirit of Percussion

I’d imagine that most species on this magnificent planet experience the same thing as we do with sound, vibrations, and music. In some ways it is how we navigate through life. Imagine the endless beauty of all the world’s songbirds, whales and dolphins in the oceans, herds of mammals guiding their young, and all of humanity’s greatest concertos, bands of every genre, instruments from many cultures, and the powerful significance it all brings to life on Earth.

Now, imagine a world, a life, with no sound.

This is very hard for me to do. I can’t frankly. Sound, rhythm, and music are so deeply woven and engrained in my family heritage and my DNA it will never be silenced! At least for several generations or more; both my kids are crazy about their music, much of it they fell in love with from their parents. But imagine a life where none of these sounds, vibrations, or rhythms exist. How would our human bodies react? How would others react to us?

There is also a paradox here. Or maybe not a paradox, but a potential paradox, or a limit. Overkill. Excessive sound or noise. Is silence better than noise, interference?

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence…
—— Simon & Garfunkel

When a human being expresses their feelings, right or wrong it doesn’t matter at the time, is it better than silence, than omission? Are feelings typically honest and raw? From Paulo Coelho:

Telling the truth and making someone cry
is better than telling a lie and making someone smile.

What sort of perceived reality is achieved when one is fed half-truths, half-lies, or full-blown lies, or a more common form of silence:  omission. Is it human nature to express these forms of non-reality or blurry reality? Is it human nature to trust, or trust too much too easily? How often do we practice these techniques?

I’m in the dark, I’d like to read his mind
but I’m frightened of the things I might find
Oh, there must be something he’s thinking of
to tear him away
when I tell him that I’m falling in love
why does he say…

If we deny other humans — our dear friends, family, lovers, partners, spouses — OUR sounds, vibrations, words, feelings, rhythms, and “music” is it fair to expect or demand THEIR free expressions of sounds, vibrations, words, feelings, rhythms, and “music”? Where does silence, hush-hush leave us?

————

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always — Listen to Songs Unsung

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42 thoughts on “Unsung Songs

    • Hahaha! Your welcome, I think? 😉 I do enjoy stimulating people’s minds, stirring hopefully their souls/hearts, to consider… more. ❤

      Thank you so much Ragazza for your comment. Please do feel free to share more!

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  1. Interesting ideas here. Many sounds we overlook the beauty, or potential beauty because we lack the time to pause and listen, or difficult to filter through the noise. You were listing the animals there and the sounds and communications and it made me think of the crickets. Have you heard that version of the cricket chirp slowed down? It’s a friggin orchestra! https://youtu.be/UqU5OMNL-7I Taking time these days to refresh with the things you have mentioned is important. Even the little ones appreciate the native beats I play on my Panama Tambor. They can’t help but move—I’m pretty sure those beats are in our DNA and should be fed as often as possible. Great thought sir. Enjoyed them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh MY Jim! Yes! In fact, I did think of that earlier — night sounds way out in the country, the sounds of Nature, the crickets and the night birds who also call at night! — and I also thought about a steady soft rain and how it sounds, and smells. I just wanted to keep this post short… allowing others to express THEIR song, rhythms, vibrations, “music,” and the story that goes with them. 🙂

      I love that link. Thank you! That is a soothing sound. I hope I get lots of feedback like that… to…

      bring us Home?

      Liked by 2 people

      • I have a new appreciation for these things I haven’t heard in years. I got hearing aids last week and WOW MAN! I can hear! I heard heard the baby quail chirping in the brush and I mentioned it to LG and she said they’re always in there. Good to have 1/9th of my senses back fo sho.

        Liked by 2 people

        • LOL… love it! Leave it to our better halves to reconnect us Neanderthals back to what is important, more meaningful, huh? 😉

          And in that intimate relationship you and LG share, sensing what might be missing or what inspires, is a “face” of human expression, interaction, communicating (freely! proactively?) and listening! Tuning out noise and interference in order to. It is one of our most basic survival tools together that we’ve learned, developed, inherited, and refined (hopefully!) over hundreds of thousands of years!!! We should NEVER allow it to stop. ❤

          Liked by 2 people

        • Bwahahahaha! You BRUT! You are SUCH a boy/guy! Such a one-way-blood-flow hetero Neanderthal! 🤣 No, seriously… that was a hilarious classic reply! Reminds me of so many other “boy/guy” brutish remarks I’ve made. 😉

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  2. In one of Terry Pratchett’s final novels, I shall wear midnight , sound plays an important part of the dialogue.
    In the final paragraph, the character, Preston comes upon behind the witch, Tiffany ( his sweetheart), covers her eyes with his hands and asks:
    ”What is the sound of love?”
    She replies.
    ”Listen!”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good sounds are wonderful, but there is so much noise today that I find myself craving silence most of the time. At the end of the day, when I leave my office where a very annoying radio station plays all day in the background of other types of endless chatter, when I get in my car to go home and it is quiet, I feel like I can breath for the first time all day. Nature sounds are what I need to hear.

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    • John, I know exactly what you mean. I honestly cannot remember when I had my car radio on. I used to play only my own CD’s all the time because I am sick-n-tired of incessant non-stop commercials (on TV too!) to the point I want to scream “SHUT THA F*CK UP ALREADY!” and hit the power button. Today? There can be so much constant NOISE that I too, like you, NEED silence… at least while in my car. I can’t remember the last time I had my CD’s playing. 😬🙄 Can completely relate. I’m getting so old. LOL

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  4. I’m probably veering off topic (Who me? Really?), but I wanted to mention that we know the brain pays a kind of scanning attention to all kinds of sensory input including sound. But what grabs attention is pattern recognition. Sound is one of the sensory delivery vehicles but to be absolutely clear it is our brains that ‘hear’. I use scare quotes because this term is not well understood but attributed to incoming sensory sound when it is the other way around: it is our brains that focus neural activity on producing what we ‘hear’, what we ‘feel’. That’s really important in understand the biological role ‘music’ has in our lives and our universal response to it. Baby’s brains explode in activity when listening to music. Not hearing music, per se, but listening. The same sound causes very different responses depending on the brain that considers it.

    When pattern recognition occurs, the brain lights up and starts a reciprocal engagement. But this is where a more complex understanding of ‘sound’ is important because it involves all kinds of patterns we might not attribute directly to the input. For example, our brains may engage with rhythm patterns and not just the vibrations themselves, activate colour assignment or numerical hierarchy to a mental image of certain elements that constitute music for greater and lesser attention, establish the contour (or ‘shape’) of rising and falling organized pitches into a larger pattern structure that we then map into neural expectation (and then decrease our attention until something new, something startling, suddenly appears on our map and calls for massive attention), not just with listening attention but by assigning much more neural activity that has nothing to do with sound processing itself but what we call higher brain function. As a result of all this neural interaction with patterns, the brain also produces, grows, and trims different connections as well as produce chemicals that we might call ’emotions’. In this sense, deaf people are quite capable of similar responses to similar pattern recognition even though they ‘hear’ nothing. I’m not even sure we can experience what you refer to as ‘silence’ because we ‘hear’ our own pattern-producing biology from within.

    In a very crowed, very loud, room, hundreds of us were asked to put ear plugs in. We then were asked to listen to a particular voice in the cacophony. Sure enough, it was like all the rest of the noise was turned way down and the person’s voice was being mic’d. We could easily make out the words and listen to the speaking even though it was no louder in fact. That’s how powerful our brains are in ‘hearing’.

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    • tildeb,

      You haven’t veered off topic. Understanding how we complex humans receive and interpret sounds, vibrations, patterns (melodies-harmonies), rhythm, and even other human communication… you’ve broken it down VERY well! Thank you. 😁

      Isn’t that too cool about a baby’s brain on music? Sing to it. Or have Yo-Yo Ma, Beethoven, or Bach playing in the background, softly of course. Your last two paragraphs are utterly fascinating! I’m glad you shared that. That experiment within a crowd and earplugs I had never read or heard about. So it showed how we can filter-out or tune-out particular sounds, noise, and pinpoint one particular “vibration”? 🤔

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      • Yes. Directed listening.

        The thing that is also way-cool is that we can train our brains to listen well… something I know you as a therapist must realize is sometimes harder than it sounds (ahem…), a skill that continues to develop over time, something I as a musician have to constantly develop and monitor. I think nothing of listening while playing my own instrument to, say, how the second clarinets play a counter melody – the phrasing, the articulation, the direction, the dynamics, the tuning, the tonal decay – for something I know I will be mirroring a hundred bars later. There are good reasons to do this – musical reasons for excellence in performance for those who can hear it and psychological/emotional reasons to not break the chain of consistency for the listener. So I am often amused at the awe young players have when I can stop my conducting and correct the tuning of, say, the 3rd horn player on a particular note in a particular bar or the tenor sax on the second bar of a sustained note. To me, the discrepancy in tuning is quite obvious but that’s because my brain knows how to listen for this kind of stuff and not just hear.

        That means we can expand our connection to (what I often hear people refer to as) ‘being in the moment’ and getting filled up with teeming life without importing others stresses and concerns that detract from an expanded awareness that is so enriching, expanding the means to extract the fullness of experience that life offers us. We can do that by training our brain how to be more fully aware regarding all of our sensory input (which is just the surface stuff), heightening our awareness to what is being all the input, selecting those out of chaotic environment (interior as well as exterior) that are beneficial, while suppressing those that are inimical, to our well-being. I can’t hear anything more than the next person, of course, but I know I can listen far better and accrue much greater detail than those who never train as I do. So I come at all art with the understanding that I’m only going to get out of it what I willing to put into it. And that is just as true in life I find. Put another way, we can all be as wealthy as we want when it comes to living well. We just have to train our brains!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Again, fascinating tildeb. I didn’t know you were a musician/conductor. 😉

          Would you compare the tuning-out or tuning-in similar to how we Americans know immediately the sound of an ambulance/firetruck (assuming drivers don’t have their stereos blasting) and what they signify? Or civil defense sirens for tornadoes? Our brains have been trained to respond to those specific sounds? Trying to wrap my head around this. For example…

          In order to decompress from a challenging day/night, I often put on a favorite band of mine, Dead Can Dance, put in my earplugs, close my eyes, lay out on the couch or bed, and let the song Indus take over my tense or sore muscles, drain myself so to speak, and I immediately begin to FEEL the rhythm of the drums and percusson (I’m a former drummer or always one – LOL). Lisa Gerrard (vocals) , like a drug thru a syringe, fills my veins and I go. If you’re interested at all…

          Everything around me becomes nothing, meaningless. Then by the 3:32 mark the lone guitar pulls me in (or out?) further still and at the 6:02 mark teetering at the edge… that lone guitar returns to pull me over; I’m further lost, gone, floating so much that when it’s over… I have to roll out of the bed or off the couch because for 9 1/2 minutes I’m a pile of mush! And I promise you this is done with absolutely no chemical substances to alter me. All natural within my brain and body! It frickin’ AMAZES ME!

          So I come at all art with the understanding that I’m only going to get out of it what I willing to put into it. And that is just as true in life I find.

          THIS is so very very true! I sometimes refer to the process as ‘sucking and savoring the marrow out of the moment, or life.‘ 😊

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  5. Like any kind of sensory input, sound can be pleasant or unpleasant. The difference is that it’s the hardest to shut off when it’s unpleasant. You can stop seeing an unpleasant sight by turning away or closing your eyes, you can stop feeling or tasting something unpleasant by taking your hand off it or spitting it out, but noise is almost impossible to block.

    Unfortunately a fair number of people seem dedicated to generating as much racket as possible without concern for the effect on other people. Think of loud music incontinently blasted from car windows, and the Brobdingnagian flatulence of motorcycle engines. I recall one place I lived in where I used to leave the window open a crack at night because the sound of the wind and rain was soothing. Then somebody nearby got wind chimes. One more minor pleasure destroyed.

    Silence is much to be prized, because it’s becoming so difficult to get.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Infidel, you are spot on. There is a LOT to be said (ironically 😉) about silent tranquility and natural sounds, Earth’s voices. The other night I met up with a long-time buddy of mine at our favorite bar to talk and catch-up cuz we hadn’t had that chance in some time. When we arrived the jukebox music was SO LOUD we had a hard time communicating to the bartender and each other. Apparently, the bartenders told us, that the group of 5-6 guys down at the other end of the bar “demanded(?)” that it be turned up so that they could hear their music. You know what was absurd about it… other than my buddy and I NOT being able to talk?

      Those guys were all yelling pretty much at each other so that each of them could be heard amongst the screaming testosternone! Geeezzzz. 😩 (face palm) 😄

      Liked by 1 person

    • JOHN!!! YES!!! I was hoping someone would read this (hear this post) that way! That was my original direction with this post, then it took on several other meanings. THANK YOU SIR. 😁

      When I am with someone significant in my life, family, lover, best-friend, etc, I am fine with relaxing/rehabing soothing silence, it’s needed. However, there are equal amounts of time where interaction, quality interaction(?), is indeed needed. Why? For me personally, I know that EVERYTHING in this world is constantly changing. It may be fast, steady, or over a long time… slow. But everything, even people, are changing daily. Isn’t it wise to “keep up”?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ahh, yes. “Omission.” The really tricky part is when to apply it, huh? I’ve gotten into much trouble or unnecessary friction because I made the WRONG choice. LOL 😄😖 And then when the same is used on me, it seems different. In other words Rosaliene, I prefer that the person omitting (or divulging) give ME the choice of whether it protects me or hurts me, and not presume they know best about me. Does that make sense? It is sometimes a very stressful condition knowing TOO much or being kept in the dark.

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    • Robert, you are not alone, I assure you. I struggle sometimes to find the right, best prescription, if you will, to what my Self needs versus what he/she or they need or are searching/fishing for, versus the exterior circumstances. I get fooled by one or two or ALL of the components sometimes. I do believe this however…

      it won’t just fall in your lap and suddenly in a flash, BOOM, you got it figured out. No, it’s practice, practice, and more practice being constantly IN THE GAME and not quitting. At least that’s my sports analogy. 😜

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