Category Archives: music

Above me …

a vast and beautiful sky spreads endlessly in varying shades of blue.

Trees dance as I pass, waving their leaves in rhythm to the erratic strings of Vivaldi.

The wind plays cheerfully with my hair as the afternoon sun warms my face.

My soul is free; my spirit soaring.

For this moment in time, my thoughts are my own.

I find myself giddy with the pure joy of it all.

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Five years later …

or nearly so, I am still sorting through my late husband’s things.

I should be past overpowering sadness by now.

I suppose I am, mostly.

But being a writer and photographer hinders that absolution.

Just when I begin to ascertain peace in my life, words intervene; I write about him and tear those nearly closed wounds open again.

It is as though he died this day, this moment, this hour.

Sadness seeps through the crevices the words carve.

Normal humans move forward, live their lives, make something of themselves from the shattered remains.

I want that, too.

But I’m a writer.

I’m a photographer.

I keep tearing those wounds, just as they’re healing, open.

I love writing about everything and photographing God’s perfect beauty; but it has a price.

I pay dearly through my words for they rip open wounds I’ve desperately attempted to close.

I bleed, painfully, and use photography to heal me.

Each image I capture stitches the brokenness and, simultaneously, pours remembrance on not quite yet healed hurts.

If one is not an artist of some kind, time will ease your pain.

For the rest of us, those with creative pieces in our soul, time simply laughs.

When the words, melodies and images are in our head and heart, there is little time can do.

What it can do is soon undone by what we are.

Sadness is my destiny, peace my hope.

And yet I write.

I photograph.

My hope is great.

My healing never really comes.

I have to ask myself if I would be willing to sacrifice my writing and photography for peace.

No, I answer.

I can live without peace.

To live without words and images would truly and altruistically destroy me.

That which brings me sadness will fuel my hope.

I am a writer and photographer.

Therein lies my hope.

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Robert Frost …

has always been, since the very first time I read his work, my favorite poet.

He writes of nature and God and love and beauty in a way that I can relate to through photography of the creation he wrote of.

I especially like “Good-bye and Keep Cold” as I do love my mountain orchard …  feel free to visit this post regarding just that – https://ginamintonkearns.com/2014/02/05/my-orchard-awaits/ .

And “Stopping by the Woods”, well really.

When my daughter was young, I did not spank her or put her in time-out.

Instead, when she had committed an infraction, she wrote.

Robert Frost’s works.

At the time, it ticked her off to have to write this poet’s verse, but, because she hated to write anything, it had the desired effect in making her work harder in school in order to avoid writing; which she hated worse than any kind of poison.

She now attends college at UVa Wise and is majoring in music.

She wants to be a band director and I couldn’t possibly be more proud of her.

At this year’s commencement excercise, a reference to Robert Frost was made. Not only did she recognize it, but relayed it to her friends.

It was, whether it was meant to be or not, a proud moment for me.

There will be many things she will forget as she forges her path in life, but Robert Frost will not be one of them.

She is my crowning achievement, and I am astutely proud of her.

I have, along the way, lost many wonderful, intriguing friends because I was too much, too crazy, too something and they couldn’t handle it.

I certainly don’t hold it against them because sometimes “my crazy” befuddles me and I wish I could “unfriend” or “unfollow” myself.

I have a greater hope for my girl and pray the “crazy gene” has passed her over.

My brain is a mystery to me and it is too much to ask anyone, even the diligent, mystery solving, “I can figure it out because I’m brilliant that way” type to fathom.

Jesus knows it, sees it as it is, and loves me despite it.

Or mayhaps, because of it.

As I said, I’m good either way.

That, for me, is enough.

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What is it about music …

that has the ability to soothe the soul while it simultaneously sends it reeling in turmoil and heartache, joy and sadness; reminiscing and rebelling even as it brings us back, unto ourselves, full circle?

That is is the beauty of it, is it not, to touch the untouchable space in the soul and spark the imagination? To make us think beyond what we know so that we try to touch on that which we weren’t even aware we wanted to know?

Part of the mystery?  The enigma?  The fascination?

I listen to music for hours every day, various genres ranging from hard, head-banging rock, to soothing  yet heartbreaking cello, to piano concertos. There are soaring arias, operatic manifestations that vary widely from my beloved Bryn to local, struggling, yet resilient talent, all of which move me on one one level or another.

Move me to seek, to find, to think, to imagine, to embrace and learn what I’ve always wanted to know.  It, music, is a kind of courage that makes one feel worthy to not only want to know, but to feel that they have right to discover.

It is empowering, this music of which I speak and it belongs to all of us.

Listening to music and interpreting it is no different really, than developing the photographs I take and finding in each one something magnificent or a flaw that makes it unintelligible and useless on every level.

Music is the same.

There are pieces that I listen to daily because I cannot help myself.  I love them, the sound of them, the places they take my mind whether I want to go or not and that is part of its power.

The power to take one on a journey, maybe pleasurable, possibly painful, but a journey that will leave the listener feeling more than they felt before and less because now, they realize that they were, prior to this moment, incomplete.

It is a humbling experience, understanding music and feeling a connection.

Anyone can hear music, but only some can comprehend it understand it and seek it because the choice, once they have experienced it, is no longer their own.

They are a slave to the sound, the vibrations, the magic that music has to offer.

There are composers who enamor me more than others, some very well known, some known not at all.

It makes little difference, at the end of the day.

There are composers I love to hear and conductors I love to watch. Some, at their very core, are nothing less than brilliant.

There are songs that are sappy and sentimental that pull at me just as there are instrumentals that draw from the depths of my inner being and make me feel things that I had either forgotten or purposely hidden away.

I’m still not sure how I feel about those except they evoke emotions that I’m not fully prepared to embrace.

It is during these indecisive moments that I throw things at mirrors, shattering them and feeling perfectly fine about it.

Whether it soothes my spirit, fries my brain or breaks my heart, I need music; it is the language, fourth to words, shadow and light, of my blood.

I can’t play a note of it, but I have an innate understanding of it.

It moves me like the river flowing over the rocks that I so dearly love.

Without music, everything else in my life would go on as it always has, but all of the emotions would be diluted. That, to me, is a sobering thought.

ClevelandOH-34Severance Hall … Cleveland Orchestra … Mahler’s First.

tay_musicMy favorite trumpeter …

Lightning over Big MoccasinProof that nature is full of music and miraculous things…

powelvalley_windsofmtnempire-301The joy of simply knowing what music is about …

clarinethandsA clarinetists’ hands … music and beauty and awesomeness lives therein …

Ignorance is bliss …

but unfortunately for most of us, ignorance is a luxury.

I have found myself spellbound by the idea of someone.

The thought that they were what I might, had I actually been looking for someone, have been looking for is like a siren’s song.

It is easy to become sidetracked by the fantasies we weave in our own minds when we aren’t paying close attention.

I did that.

I wove fantasies, thought thoughts, dreamed dreams and built castles in the air when there were no fantasies to be fantasized about, no pertinent thoughts to think and no castles to build.

It is the downside of an active imagination.

Reality takes a back seat and the fantastical takes on a life of its own.

There is no shame in that; the imagining, wishing, dreaming.

No shame at all, however, it is important to know where dreams end and reality begins.

Otherwise, you are left scratching your head and wondering where you went wrong.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent way too much time becoming whole and confident in my own thoughts and abilities to throw it away by putting all of my eggs in one basket.

If you put all your eggs in one basket and then  drop that basket, all of the eggs are ruined and you are back where you started when you didn’t have any eggs at all.

I, for one, want to have at least some whole, unbroken eggs in my basket.

I have, up until my husband passed a few years ago, never lived on my own.

Never experienced the pure joy of doing what I want, when I want, the way I want or not doing it, whatever it may be, at all.

I came very close to throwing all of that away by thinking I needed validation for this or the other thing.

I don’t.

Need validation, that is.

I am happy being by myself.

Alone, I am not lonely.

Instead, I am free in a way I never imagined.

I find myself pulling back from what I once longed for and realizing that I am perfectly content as I am.

I don’t know how I would react to a relationship, but the past few months have taught me that I do not need anyone to complete me.

I always thought I did, but I don’t.

I can ‘t remember a time when I felt so content.

Yes, sometimes my brain overtakes my soul and I’m manic to the point of madness.

But that, as it always has, passes and I am left, once again, serene in my solitude.

I have my thoughts, my words, my music and the magnificent creation of my Father to sustain me.

It makes me want to encourage others who feel they are not whole unless they are paired with someone to rethink their priorities.

I don’t know what I would, at this juncture in my life, do in a relationship, but I feel, at this point, that I have become too self-sufficient to rely on anyone to complete me.

When I need completion, I grab my camera and head to the mountains.

Companionship comes to me in the form of moon, sky, trees, water, light and shadow.

Seek what you will, but know, before you seek, that even if you don’t find, you are, as you are, enough.

Everything else is simply icing.

The magnificent song of Winter silence

The magnificent song of Winter silence

There is something about rain …

the sound of it, anyway, that is mesmerizing.

I love it.

I find myself getting lost in it.

The soft sounds or the heavy, torrential pounding that a good storm can produce.

Imagine my joy when I recently learned that there is a musical instrument that can make the sound of rain.

It is called a rainstick and, as with all things that are new to me, I had to find out more about it.

What is it?  Where does it come from?  What is it made of?  What makes it work?  How does that sound get inside?

I asked all of these questions and went in search of answers.

I found them.

I was told only that the sound of rain in a friend’s musical composition was made by a rainstick which he described as “a percussion instrument that lets pebbles cascade over small spikes”.

With that image in mind,  it was hard for me to imagine something other than plinko.  You know, drop the disk and let it bounce off spikes and hope it falls into the slot you were shooting for.  It is a game, one of pure chance, and I was not about to be satisfied with that.

After researching the rainstick, I found the history of it to be most fascinating.  So fascinating, in fact, that I almost forgot why I was looking it up to begin with.

As it turns out, the origin of the traditional South American rain stick isn’t known, not definitively, anyway.  Indian tribes in Chile, Peru and Mexico all lay claim to having invented them, and one compelling theory contends that African slaves who arrived in the New World during the Spanish occupation brought them.

The euphonious sound of the traditional rainstick were supposedly once thought to have the power to bring rain and was used in prayer ceremonies among the Aztecs as well as others.  The sound was so lovely, however, that it made its way into the making of music, something that is as old as time itself.  Music.  And, now that I think about it, rain, as well.

The rainstick is made primarily from the dried Eulychnia acida, or Capao cactus after it has lived a long and healthy sixty plus years.  The “arms” are harvested, dried, cleaned and  hollowed out.  Spines are pushed into the hard body of the cactus and many very small stones are sealed inside.  When the instrument is inverted, the stones cascade along the helically spaced spikes making the sound of rain. (There are likely other varieties of cacti that rainsticks can be fashioned from, but Capao came up consistently in my research.)

Ingenious.

As with everything else, however,  it had to be classified, reclassified and sub-classified.  It is now known to be part of the percussion/shaken idiophone family.  The shaken part is, as any music nerd can likely tell you, a sub-category of the idiophone.  Me?  I had to look it up.

I listened to the piece that drew my attention to the instrument over and over while writing this post.  I listened to it because it is brilliantly done and pleasing to the ear.  The fact that is was written by a friend was coincidental, but he doesn’t need to know that I found such favor with it.  Don’t take my word for it, though, take a listen and judge for yourselves and then decide if you can live out the rest of your life without owning your own rainstick.

I decided that I couldn’t.  I’m expecting it in the mail by next Friday.

Today, I learned …

a lesson in minimalism.

Before today, I didn’t realize it was a style of music.  The first piece I heard I hated.

“Rather be staked to an anthill than have to listen to it again”  hated.

But I am a seeker of knowledge and know that just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a genre by one artist.

So I went seeking.

I found some interesting things, fascinating sounds, hypnotic renditions, all of which had one thing in common; they put me in the mindset of waiting for something to happen.

The other shoe to drop.

On the edge of my seat, knowing that any moment, something would jump out or change or become irregular.

But it didn’t.

I found that, while it may not move to the top of my playlist, there were some pieces I liked.  I even found one by Steve Reich I found enjoyable.  (Yes, only one, Mr. Reich … I mean, I know it was your birthday and all, but I really meant that whole “staked to an anthill” thing).

The search unearthed a lovely and yet somehow disturbing piece by Jimmie Peggy called Angelus Domini.  I was most certainly waiting for something to jump out at me on this one.  I even went so far as to cover my eyes at one point … just in case.

And then there was Philip Glass.  I’m still not certain if this is the same Philip Glass, pianist extraordinaire, who takes up a lot of space in my playlists, but I was intrigued just the same.

The pièce de résistance of my experimental searching came when I ran across Dan Holland’s “Mahatma”.  I was swept off my feet by this simple, yet complicated piece of music.

One could formulate the opinion that it was because it was played on piano.

I do love the piano.

That wasn’t the reason, though.

It left me breathless and exhilarated.

Maybe even enthralled.

I’m not certain I have ever felt enthralled about anything, but I imagine it felt a bit like that.

And I believe it would have even if it had been played on another instrument.

I may never know the answer to that question, but the answer to the question “do I like minimalism”?  Some of it, yeah, surprisingly, I do.

I love learning new things.  They make me more than I was yesterday and whatever I learn tomorrow will make me more than I am today.

And so it will continue until I die.  I’ll never know everything, but each thing changes me, for good or bad, one way or the other, and from each one of them, I learn.

I grow.

I become.

I owe a friend who was honoring the birthday of Steve Reich for this journey.  Had I not subjected myself to seven minutes of hell, I would have had no idea this genre existed; and because I subjected myself to seven minutes of hell, I went in search of something less hellish.

A good day all around.  A good day, indeed.

Mahatma … by Dan Holland