Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Practice: Connecting to nature via music pt 2

photo by Patricia Herlevi
I was unable to round up enough students for my class Exploring Music with Ecological Themes, but I still think it's important for us to connect to nature through sound vibration.  So I'm including a short list of practices you can learn to do on your own.  I feel as humans in the modern world we have lost contact with the natural world.  We have given animals human personalities, treated the earth as a resource rather than a living being, and have forgotten how to communicate musically with the natural world or to truly hear its music. Those are the reasons why I created the class.  Too bad only one student signed up for it.

1) Sit in a natural setting (yes, outdoors), and focus on birds singing or another nature-based sound.  Meditate on this sound for at least 10 minutes.  Follow your body's rhythms and pulses as you listen to this natural sound.  Do you start hearing a melody in it? Harmony? How do you feel? 

2) If you are a musician (even if you aren't), compose a melody based on your meditation experiences.  You can compose this melody through notation or orally.

3) Next time you're in that natural setting and meditating on the natural sounds, sing or play your melody, sharing it with the natural world, and listen for a response.  This little exercise might surprise you.

4) If you don't want to meditate with natural sounds, and you play an instrument take the instrument outside and start playing something soft (acoustic instruments only).  See if birds or some other creature responds to your music.  Then if this does happen see if you can start a musical dialogue with this creature.  You need to listen carefully do this.

5) Do like the late Marjorie De Muynck and record sounds from the natural world then fuse that to sound healing or other types of music.  Marjorie recorded bees, a fruit bat, crows, frogs, crickets and hummingbirds. You can check out her recordings on Sounds True. 

6) Create a chant based on an experience with a creature or something else that's natural.

7) Listen to recordings by musicians who either recorded outdoors with nature surrounding them or used nature sounds in the studio.

8) Research musicians and musical practices from indigenous cultures since these people are still in touch with nature and respond to nature musically.  I gave some examples earlier on this blog.

9) Learn to play a wood, bamboo, or plant-based flute and take it outdoors with you to play.  Think of R. Carlos Nakai playing his Native American flute in the canyons of Arizona and Utah.

10) Make a list of all the European classical composers who composed pieces inspired by the natural world.  This list will take a while to compile.  Then check out these CDs from the library.  Give them a careful listen and journal about your listening experience.

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