Rhythm, Sound & Beat: Our Genetic Cadences

For all of you music enthusiasts. Certainly for any of you drummers, you maestros of rhythm, or Lords of the Skins!

Here is the mystery:  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.” Drumming on the Edge of Magic: A Journey Into the Spirit of Percussion, by Micky Hart, Fredric Lieberman and Jay Stevens (1990)

I was inspired yesterday by a fellow blogger and musician (Ark)—if he considers drummers “musicians” (wink)—to write this post about how natural, how biologically embedded rhythm, patterns in sound vibrations, and beats or pulse are to the human neurology. Maybe it is different for percussionists and maybe it isn’t, the mathematics of rhythm that is, and how almost endlessly it can be shifted, divided, multiplied, or derived from previous… well, derivatives. The patterns, rhythms, and beats often have a common denominator, a baseline if you will. Yet, it is wonderfully and by no means permanent.

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. — Ibid

There are 12 distinct components or moods and pulses in this following 9-minute instrumental entitled La Villa Strangiato (An Exercise in Self-Indulgence). It is a human journey in sleep by a man with a lucid imagination coupled with a propensity for some extreme anxiety and/or tranquility. The epic song by Rush is from the very apropos cerebral album HemispheresOne of the tranquil components:  To Sleep, Perchance to Dream… and anxious components:  Monsters! and Monsters! (Reprise) both adaptations of a 1937 Raymond Scott jazz instrumental. I cannot fully express how masterful this piece is in complex mathematical drumming and syncopation by one Lord of the Skins that should give any percussion aficionado goose-bumps, Neil Peart!

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 [to this cyclical planet and the celestial heavens in which it and we revolves]. — Ibid

Medical studies repeatedly show that getting your heart-rate up drumming or dancing, or both, for just 30 minutes a day is equal to one anti-depressant pill. My own studies have shown that dueling and complimenting another drummer on her/his kit (below) is equivalent to two pills of euphoria… similar to ecstasy, but better! And naturally legal! Can you imagine how healthy it is participating in a drum-circle with dancing!? Exercise! Get down and hard, get steamy sweaty!

Or if you prefer something more indigenous, reflective of our evolutionary roots, more primal, more Latin, then I give you Evening Samba by Mickey Hart and his indigenous percussion ensemble:

How about something highly erotic that reaches deep inside to the twisted Sorcerer/Sorceress unleashing a beast inside? And then hits your natural release, the endorphins to help carry us away, floating while time stands still, A Different Drum:

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Drum & Dance Always

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Masculinity

THIS DESERVES PASSING ON! #EVOLVETHEDEFINITION

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There’s a difference between wisdom and arrogance. There’s a difference between persuading and Machiavellian. There’s a difference between astute and reckless. There’s a big difference between a baboon and being human. Let’s not lose these distinctions gentlemen. “Refined and civilized” has a much brighter future than brutish and uncouth. Is this really so hard to understand? Men, must we step-up (again) to teach and defend human decency?

The men’s fashion company, Bonobos takes one of the earliest steps in this 1:30 promo for a gender-responsible organization to reverberate a more accepting, broader, and diverse representation of what it means to evolve masculinity. What are your thoughts ladies and gentlemen?

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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No More Nation States?

Author, social philosopher, historian, and speaker Roman Krznaric is one of my most favorite writers. I have utilized much of his work in my blog-posts, especially his writing, theories, and organizations promoting a more significant, impactful life with friends, family, coworkers, and community. On Roman’s website he writes an intriguing, thought-provoking article about the modern signs of returning, rising city-states similar to that of 14th – 17th century Renaissance Era”s Venice and Florence, Italy. Are there more advantages than disadvantages to this possible/probable trend?

City-State vs. Nation-state

Britannica.com defines city-state as “a political system consisting of an independent city having sovereignty over contiguous territory and serving as a centre and leader of political, economic, and cultural life.” There is a large consensus that the term does apply to at least three different modern cities:  Singapore, Monaco, and Vatican City. What distinguishes the three city-states comparatively are their higher degrees of sovereign autonomy.

Singapore

Singapore is considered one of the most successful, happiest city-states in the world

A nation-state according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “a form of political organization under which a relatively homogeneous people inhabits a sovereign state; especially : a state containing one as opposed to several [ethnicities and] nationalities.” Naming examples of nation-states is not an exact science. It is hotly debated due to the many complexities that make up a nation or a state. Dr. Atul Kohli of Princeton University describes them as “Legitimate states that govern effectively and dynamic industrial economies are widely regarded today as the defining characteristics of a modern nation-state.” Perhaps what differentiates the nation-state from other forms of governing is to what degree it utilizes its complex social, cultural, and economic instruments in unison. Historically these factors morph and change, further fueling contrasting debates. For instance, does a culture of North and South or Confederacy/Union still exist today in the “nation-state” called United States? What does a current approval rating of only 17% for the U.S. Congress indicate?

John Fullerton, founder and president of Capital Institute and contributor to Huffington Post, explains our current nation-states this way:

Ideological rather than pragmatic, a political abstraction that has no grounding in the concrete reality of where and how we live and how life-supporting ecosystems function, the Nation State, together with its political party structure, is not well equipped for today’s most important globally interdependent challenges that cannot be solved through inter-State rivalries where self-interest and might rule the day.

The “City State” predates the Nation State; it endures. Rome is older than Italy, Alexandria is older than Egypt. Cities are expanding as we know. They are already home to more than half the world’s population, and 80% in the developed economies. They are home to 85% of the global economy (and associated greenhouse gas emissions) and much of the evolution of our culture. Like it or not, we have become an increasingly urban species. Visionaries like Jonathan Rose are showing the way to regenerative cities with his timely publication of A Well-Tempered City. At the same time, rural culture, small towns, and life-sustaining rural landscapes, historically understood as essential extensions of the City State, have never been more vital…

Film producer Sharon Chang is optimistic of a more pronounced city-state political, economic, and cultural movement that is more quickly in tune with its citizen’s needs and unleash their ingenuity.

Our political, educational, and industrial systems to date have been designed to operate with constraint rather than abundance. These systems encourage and reward behaviors defined by a zero-sum attitude. Even the most brilliant innovations have been limited within the mindset of arbitrary, war-born lines on centuries-old maps. For some reason, they’re untouchable. We’d never dare to think — let alone color — outside the lines.

[…]

When we put modern industry and technology into a new design of city-state, we cross-pollinate two extremely powerful concepts: exponential growth and diversity. We forge a path of least resistance to true abundance.

In Krznaric’s article The Return of the City State, he cites three contributing factors for the modern rise/need of the city-state. His last and most compelling factor is that nation-states are no longer well-structured for adaptability:

They have failed to deal effectively with issues arising from migration, climate change, wealth inequality and terrorism. This failure partly explains the declining faith in traditional political parties in many countries and in the value of democratic government itself. But it is also behind the rise of cities, which are much more effective at pragmatic problem-solving on issues ranging from flood management to dealing with increasing numbers of refugees.

These are all valid arguments for the removal or reduction of nation-states and the need for a modern return to city-states — that is “valid” in a perfect world of equality, extensive understanding, and overall peace.

300: Rise of an Empire

Fall of Athens, 404 BCE

The Historical Record of City-States

Probably the most notable city-states in history were those of ancient Greece:  Athens, Corinth, Sparta, and Thebes. Others were those of Mesoamerica:  Chichen Itza, Copán, Monte Albán, Tikal, and then the cities, or metropoles, of Renaissance Italy like Florence, Genoa, Milan, Pisa, Venice and several others. Though it can be argued that these cities far outlasted their empires which surrounded them and subjugated them — several are still in existence today — they lacked the natural and human resources to defend themselves against large empires or nation-states. Almost every single historical city-state has fallen to mega-states or empires at least once, in certain cases several times.

If our modern world is to return to forms of city-states, hence allowing freer ingenuity and progress, yet weakening or hollowing out present nation-states, how do we avoid the envious big bullies around the corner or on the next continent? Do we make “unbreakable” alliances with all other progressive city-states around the globe to come quickly to our rescue if Goliath attacks? Is that even possible? Will there ever come a day when all imperialistic-minded, narcissistic megalomaniac males are extinct or psychologically pathologically reprogrammed and their potential gullible (like-minded?) masses or followers redirected?

As a diverse species, are we ready internationally for this sort of change or return to a much more localized form of mercantilism, culture, technology, and governing?

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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