Pain is a Dumb Word

heartpain

Pain.
It’s a dumb word.
Pain.
It’s not a real word. 

It’s not an actual word
that can describe
how the holes in the heart
have a thin layer of blood
that is crusty already.

And every time you breathe,
the crust cracks and pours down
the front, back, and sides of your body
in between your ribs,
pools around your ankles.

And when you see the pool of blood
and slosh through it,
and you hear the sounds
and you tell people about it,
they say “What? Where? When?”

And then you go back
to your silent cave,
because you become convinced,
that again,
you have gone crazy.

Poem: Throughout the ages, the darkest of times

mosaic

Throughout the ages, the darkest of times

horrors and horrors, agonies of lives,

moments of terror, fright and despair,

nobody’s listening, nobody hears.

 

It’s all a big gathering of inflated lies,

Showing off the shiny side, to the looking eyes,

turn this way, turn that way, show it all off,

maybe they won’t notice the other side at all.

 

If they see the sparkly glitter, they won’t see the glue

the sticky fragile dots scattered all over you,

holding it all together, the broken bits and pieces,

the shattered existence, sharp edges never decreases.

 

You may think the underside can never be exposed

yet the mosaic of color is not all that they know,

Your pottery is brown, the earth from whence you come

the being, your essence, has now come undone.

 

So distant are you from your cloak now,

you see yourself no longer,

So far away is your body casing,

Your feelings wandered, you are wasting.

 

There from afar, you see their piercing gaze

they check to see you through the filth, the haze

they wonder if that is you, or only the shadow left behind,

they realize you are gone, you have lost your mind.

 

What is left is only your mark, your imprint, your design,

the only investment in the life and your time,

without you there, they are free to see it on its face,

ponder, to question, or simply erase.

 

Just let it be, let them do, let them work,

it is of no relevance to you for sure,

They are only from the world that once was,

you are in a better place, time for applause.

The System of Developmental Aging as a Non-Continuum

What if we have been calculating years incorrectly all this time, and we aren’t really aging as predictably as we thought we were? My latest wonder is about time as a continuum of a system that is not defined by predictable timespaces. Meadows claims that “there’s not much we can do about it, because four-year-olds become five-year-olds, and sixty-four-year-olds become sixty-five-year olds predictably and unstoppably” (p. 151)

Yes, we all ‘know’ that years are only a measure of trips around the sun. But what if the gravitational pull of one’s household dysfunction alters their trip around their own developmental sun? What if a person’s brain is their sun, and their family life is where they spend their time circling around their sun? What if hurdles and gifts in our life path are the “fluctuations or expansions that strain” like bottlenecks for a river stream? (p. 151) What if these stock-and-flow structures define the capacity of our physical time in years as leverage points in our system?

Yet self-organization “requires freedom and experimentation, and a certain amount of disorder” (p. 80). So then, are these leverage points in our development a predictable need for our trip around our developmental sun? But, if “system leverage points are points of power” (p. 145) to the right or wrong directions, then how can we grow up in these punishing circumstances and find a balance?

Sources:

Meadows, D. H. (2008). Thinking in systems: A primer. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Company.

Oh, Bring It On

The appeal of blissful escape cries out loud,
Comforting darkness thickly surrounds,
Like a velvety soft hug, squeezing firm,
My place in space, thoroughly confirmed.

They think it is a method to survive the day,
We know it is a death grip, taking us away,
Yearning to fall into the happy abyss,
To the unknown irresponsible place of bliss.

But that place is for the losers who can’t get a grip,
Any ounce of pressure easily makes them slip,
They kick and scream and make their fall known,
Their drama shows us that they have never truly grown.

We don’t need to stare at them to see who they are,
Their actions speaks so loud, so ugly, so bizarre.
Who are they to plead and beg, to say their life stinks,
When they are the ones who mess up everything.

They are sloppy and careless, heartless without shame,
Ruthless and soulless, they play the people’s game.
Name-calling, blame-ladling, purging their emotions,
Taking a dump on others, their formula, their magic potion.

Playing the administration role, forgetting who they are,
They rose to the top, now they will just fall hard,
And you and I don’t need to make that happen,
Their words and behaviors will trigger that action.

There is a way to this world, call it karma if you must,
somehow it makes all of this evolve and go bust,
And we, hiding in our comfort place,
Get to save face,
With grace.

Artwork: Shrivak

Artwork: Shrivak

 

The Grape’s Plight

grapeLife. You think you start out plump and juicy, but you lose that juice of tangy stupidity as you gain wisdom. While you trade the fluidity of youth for wrinkled, settled plans of action, you find yourself to be the product of that process.

In its early days, the grape must cluster together, thriving through the peers of its vine to learn how to survive. Not much use is there for a single grape in isolation, for its innards disappoint upon first application of pressure, leaving an empty casing of confusion. No purpose remains for its polished outward aesthetics. The raisin has its potential to impress in isolation, its mature character topping your expectations. Even if it is forcefully infused with warm liquid forays, it will plump up to comply. Never would it alter its confectionery centers or regress to its arrogant beginnings.

The raisin is a new being, sweet for what it is, resembling an age-old brain, complex and wrinkled to show its amassed worth. In that journey, the acidic repugnant tart character of its inexperienced grape evaporates. Thankfully, it is concentrated into a concrete lump of sweetness, willingly conforming to its shape of its circumstances. The plump boastful creature turns to a lean result-oriented product of purpose. The mature being does not regret the journey.

Synesthesia: Brahms Sonata No. 1 for Violin in G Major

Synesthesia is a brain phenomenon that allows a person to experience a multi-sensory perception of music. Below is a visual of what I experienced when listening to Brahms Sonata No. 1 for Violin in G Major. 

You may follow along with the Free Score and recording below.

This sonata was composed by Johannes Brahms during the summers of 1878/1879 and was first performed on November 8, 1879 in Bonn, Germany, Beethoven’s home town. The encyclopedia Britannica defines the cyclic forms of a sonata as the compositional form characterized by the repetition, where in a later movement or part of the piece, of motives, themes, or whole sections from an earlier movement in order to unify structure. Indeed, a distinct melody line and underlying rhythmic pulse can be identified in every specific part of this sonata. Perhaps Brahms himself used the sonata form to mimic a rain-shower, given that he used this melody in various moods to create a Regenlied, or rain-song.

I – Right from the start of the first movement, the piano plays ever so lightly, to ease the listener into what follows. The violin’s melody falls into rapid descent to the sempre tranquillowhere the piano accompanies the violin’s melody without stepping into it, yet remaining a constant musical support. The piano melody starts off on the fifth of the scale, wailing its way down to the tonic only to bounce around, mimicking the impending rain through the heavy waving of the trees. Finally, after the melody repeats twice and the violin blurts out its highest note, the rain steadies and the piano settles into a rhythmic pulse rather than arpeggiating the notes (p. 3).

After the first crescendo, when the roles are reversed and the violin adds a lower harmony and shifts into the tenor line, the violin still remains prominent in a harmonious melody, while the piano keeps to it’s rhythmic pattern rather than taking on a soloists’s role. The piano notes are now taking bigger bolder leaps, doubling the melody, yet not overpowering the song of the violin in the lower register. Rather, they merge into a sweet muddy sound of intensity without a ferociousness (p. 4). The piano then skips down the scale while the violin soars upward to prepare for the melody theme to repeat again, ever so softly this time, with barely any piano.

The sonata returns to its familiar melody as the pretty little finger-dance on the piano clearly invokes the sweet little raindrops in a little countryside, this time with a different pulse (p. 7). The filling of the last three beats gives a fresh space for the first beat, bringing a different sound to the piano, before returning to arpeggiated twinkle-drops. The fiddler remains insistent on its mood, which is filled with underlying hardships masked by yearnings and hope, as the day comes to an end. These moods are played in vivid contrast when the piano support shifts from quarter notes to dolce dotted notes, accenting the different thoughts of the soloist (p. 9). When the piano begins to fill most of the space, the violin song drops by a third, in a questioning manner before settling to the familiar melody again.

This time, the piano boldly converses with the violin, perhaps in clarity of the realization of the rain’s purpose (p. 10). Almost as if the violin is the simple farmer and the piano is God the rainmaker, the piano then softens as to convince the necessity of the rain, perhaps a message to the simple farmer that another day will come, and the field will be restored to sunshine-health tomorrow. The piano does this by introducing the original melody with its stronger voice. The violin’s melody in response increases to question with sporadic highs and lows, while the piano supports with loving opposition. The joyous understanding emerges after the explanation of necessity, and it then slows to a sweet note of thanks with mutual agreement (p. 8). Only then is it safe for the violin to return to the original melody in relative faith (p. 10). The piano shows the love by following each utterances of the violin with three words of support, supporting each phrase. Now, the violin can repeat the melody with less support, and the piano noticeably softens. We know the farmer now accepts the rain with understanding, as the pitter-patter takes on a joyous sound, no matter its free-willed direction (p. 11-12).

Original Photography, please do not steal.

As the rain dies down, the glorious picture of its gift returns. We hear the sweetness enter the scene after the crescendo, with soft undertones (p. 13). The clean twinkling of the piano plays wonderfully to the beck and call of the violin, answering sweetly. Despite the surprise gracioso, the piano’s last attempt at this dance ends in both players going their separate ways by the calando. Peace is restored when the violin’s lovely melody line confirms that this feminista now has gained a stronghold over the piano’s intensity. As the violin leads off into the opening of the original melody line, it sends the piano spiraling into a foray of exploration, as it all culminates into a sense of finality at the conclusion (p. 15).

II – In the second movement, the ternary form (A-B-A) is clearly obvious, right when the violin’s melody comes in, only after the piano settles into a perfect adagio. The image is of a field washed clear, glistening with the crisp raindrops that fell just before in the first movement. The key change to Eb major is distinct in its contrasting crispness to the previous movement in the wet G major. This fresh start introduces the listener to the first melody by way of the piano in the entrance, before dropping to a lower register to welcome the the violin. The melody is an answer to the piano’s opening, in sweet calm with an air of lightness, even through its first crescendo. The piano now breaks into a heavy piu andante, warning us of what is to follow (p. 17). The violin joins in the cacophony, and tames the piano into submission, almost with a wise woman’s touch (p. 18).

Exquisite sound now emerges in the the adagio come I softly like in the beginning. Although the piano playing is rich, it does not take the lead, but merely aligns itself with the organized sound of the violin (p. 19). When the violin throws in the G flat and dips into minor territory, the sound of the piano softens as well, to welcome its espress mood change (p. 20). The piano however ceases to support the melody with arpegiated sweetness, and rather darkens the sound with trepidatious doubling of the first note of each violin breath, as if wondering what will come next.

The piano then tries to convince the violin to return to its sweetness, by gently prodding it with softened but questioning support of the tonic, almost like an invitation to please please come home (p. 20). With the violin’s safe re-entry, the piano now shows its approval by briefly nodding in treble clef. The violin’s boldness emerges with its harmony, sending the piano on a wild chase of support. Only when the violin returns to home does the piano then settle into the sweet diminuendo again, with its exquisite richness to end off the first movement, just like it began, wrapping up the ternary form.

III – The familiar melody now returns in the third movement in G minor with an allegro molto moderato quickening the pulse (p. 21). The nimble twinkles of the piano adds a flavorful trickle of sound to the violin’s long notes. When the violin crescendos into the leggiero, the piano lightly skips enough notes to lighten the support and create more breeze (p. 23). This fresh new space allows for the piano to enter again with its bright response to the melody which the violin has just produced. The violin remains dignified in its rejoining of the familiar melody-end of this phrase. The ferociousness of the piano now peaks as it begs the violin to return to G major. The violin insists on responding with the familiar melody, leaving the piano no choice but to return to accompanying it with mechanical disinterest (p. 24). When the violin insists yet again to just stick to its melody, the piano shamelessly insists on staying put in the same place without much emotion, even sneakily withholding the bass in some places. But when the violin launches into the beautiful Eb Major section with added harmony to its melody, the pianist sits up straight and gets to work (p. 26).

The familiar sweetness returns with glorious richness to support the violin. This encourages the violin to erupt into song, where it then turns into a fireball nodding its approval, before tranquility is restored (p. 28). The piano and the violin now work together to slide out of the minor mode, but it is merely a tease albeit a brave attempt, before the melody returns in G minor. Finally, we are successful and the shift to G major mode occurs after the crescendo in this coda(p. 30). When the violin convinces us that it is here to stay, it reintroduces the familiar melody in a well suited legato for the piano to match the added harmonious voices of the violin smoothly into the diminuendo. To end off this sonata, the piano takes the lead, prodding the violin to follow its melody, which it does without hesitation, after the poco ritard helping the violin rondo back home to utter its last sweet breath (p. 31).

Classically Trained Robots

I am very disturbed by a Facebook ad that popped up on my page:

Lucy Moses School – Do you want your kid to play a musical instrument? Come Discover them all on W 67th St!

I am so disturbed by this. What do you mean, “want your kid to play a musical instrument”… Music has nothing to do with kids who are forced to play because their parents want to show off. Music is about expression. Bring the instruments home, and encourage your children to convey a message through their music. Formal instruction creates tonal robots.

Of course, classical training liberates you in a way where you then know how to rise to new levels. However, if you remain in that sctrict environment for too long, you will lose your inspiration for free improvisation. Do you want your children to grow up sounding like rigid robotic music machines, or do you want them to be able to sit with a group of people who bring their voices and their instruments together, and have no expectations? Those are the most beautiful and inspirational moments in a person’s life. Just ask any improv artist.

Music is a primary language. Don’t take that away.

Here’s a track of totally unscripted, unplanned improv, where I sat down to the piano and had no expectations.

Notice how everyone just came together to express pure soul, without any talking, winking, nodding, or ‘what key is  that in’.  Now, that’s what I call music! Enjoy this track, and please feel free to post comments below. I’d love to embrace your opinion, if you can justify it.

Violin credit: Todd Rogers

Cello credit: Jeffrey Mehr