Musical Monday::One Chorus, One People


Bobby McFerrin may very well be on of America’s National Treasures. His approach to music shows his total immersion in the craft of music from the world of sounds, and he seems to have honed the ability to transform instruction into entertaining activity.

This video shows Bobby McFerrin leading the audience (at the World Science Festival ) in a song based on the pentatonic scale; he uses mime and vocalizations to teach the audience to sing the song. McFerrin begins by demonstrating the interval between the mid-tone and the next higher tone, as well as the tone below. After the minimal instruction, he pantomimes to lead the audience through the rest of the song. Amazingly, the audience sings as if they already knew the tune, or at least the pentatonic scale. At the end, Mr. McFerrin returns to his seat and discloses that everywhere he’s visited, all the countries with different languages, cultures and musical traditions, people everywhere are able to intuit, discern and vocalize the correct higher and lower notes for the pentatonic scale, beyond those he initially demonstrated.

This demonstration suggests that our brains are hardwired for harmonics. As an intuitive person with a holistic understanding of nature, this makes sense to me given that all life forms make music. All Life Makes Music; Sound and music is a condition of life. When we use our voices we add to the chorus of the world, whether we sing, speak, yell or cry, we add to the ambient soundscapes of birds, rushing water, rustling tree leaves, whooshing wind, car honks, dog barks and on and on.

think:: If you were an observer /listener who detached from the emotionality of the scene or activity of the actors, let’s say you recently landed from Neptune, would you be more likely to perceive “noise” or be able to discern human language versus birdsong, versus rainfall, thunder or the rev of a motor? Probably not. If you were new to the earthly soundscape, you would be more likely to orient yourself to the underlying rhythms which pattern the swells of noise, eventually noticing similarities or dissimilarities in tones before you could identify where the tones / sounds / pulses or rhythms emanate from. If our humanly sounds add to the chorus of life, even our technological wonders become a part of the greater soundscape, are we really so different from a woodpecker, dragonfly, rooster or any other animal? We are ONE.

Feel:: What emotions come up for you as you listen to the non-musical audience of strangers who engaged in a perfectly orchestrated impromptu song? Remember, these people don’t represent a cohesive group, they all flew / drove / swam / walked 🙂  to the World Science festival to attend that lecture; they were from as many walks of life, and represent as many different experiences as there were people, however harmonically they were all in tune. Complete strangers expertly sang a new song in unison. When I watched this video, I felt an overwhelming, beautiful sense of joy and expansive ONENESS. The people may not have known each other individually, but they essential humanness asserted and recognized itself to show that they, WE come from the same proverbial root.

The harmony created in a room of strangers poignantly illustrates an ultimate truth: there is no separation between you and me. If we can tap into the greater chorus at will, then maybe, just maybe we  are all creating a symphony composed of the sounds, words and expressions we make in our everyday life?

Grow!:: What sounds do you want to contribute to the chorus of life? Identify the most recent time you felt alone. Not lonely, but alone. Where life seemed as if it were coursing by without you, or when you had thoughts that your experience was so different from everyone else’s, that no one could understand. In this moment, after witnessing a supreme moment of oneness between strangers, realize that there is no possible way for you to actually be alone the world. Even in feelings of isolation, we can add melancholy tone to the symphony of life. We all know that some of the most compelling works of art incorporated the artists melancholy to great effect; I challenge you take the reins as the composer of your life and consciously decide what note you add to the chorus of life. The next time you feel alone, or misunderstood, to go out into the world and listen to the chorus just outside your door. Do you notice that there is something missing? It’s You! Your voice is crucial to the chorus of Life. Lift your voice and sing, add your unique melody to the chorus. When you add to the soundtrack of life, it is impossible to feel alone, because in that moment you connect and contribute to the chorus, you will remember that you are irrevocably plugged into or tapped into to the greater power that unites us all.

What is my sound?:: Well, I wish to add the beta-wave sound of optimism, honesty and human healing. I wish to create a sound-wave of my healing that emanates from my own healing process out to others in need of the same. My intent is that the healing beta-wave compels all who hear it to seek, find and ultimately embark on their deepest, most profound healing journey.

Shawndel

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Where Does Your Inspiration Grow?


These three Atlanta-based men Boris Penton, Andre Rucker, and Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer of “Dragon House” have created their own style, lexicon and approach to the hip-hop genre of dance.

Precise movement. Nuanced facial expression, rapid-fire footwork and flexibility from beyond, these men created something that most of the viewing audience had never seen before, and it originated in their “Dance Room” (the converted Dining Room) of the apartment they share with some 10 other people. The men showed great support for each other and encouraged one another to “Vegas-worthy” performances. If their goals were to advance to Vegas as a trio, to put the name of “Dragon House” on the lips of dance-appreciating American public, and to radiate positive energy, well, they’ve succeeded on all THREE counts.

Who knows what the future holds, but the present is what have; In the present, the great here and now, three men collaborated on a trio of three distinct yet related original choreographed works that blew my mind, made me laugh and simply wish myself and my current collaborative group of women advanced preparation, excitement, skill and confidence when (capital “O”) Opportunity presents itself in support of our goals.

THINK:: What comes to mind about your own passion when you view the videos of “Dragon House” at home, their performances and the judges response?

FEEL:: What emotions and sensations do you feel at the prospect of the first step of YOUR dream coming true? Where do you feel those sensations and emotions in your body?

GROW::What physical, psychological, informational, or practical preparation do you need to ensure your readiness WHEN your opportunity arrives? How will you manifest the means to facilitate that preparation and growth?

Heritage Music Day:: kRI and hettie Bring the Love!


Listen to kRI & hettie, the message is clear in the lyrics. Watch the as they lovingly sing their songs of inspiration. I love to watch this performance on “The Inner View”, a transformative, inspiring, and provocative radio show created by the brilliant minds of the Center for Spiritual Living Dallas.

THINK about their words::Have you forgiven yourself or others today? If not, now is the time. Let the old pains, go! Whoever wronged you  has already moved on. To dwell in the pain means that you are actually the one who is hurting you. Trippy, isn’t it? 

FEEL your way to balance::Your breath is the way to become grounded in your body, to feel your emotions simply as sensations that pass through you. No emotion is forever, they are simply energy your body makes for you to navigate your world. How do you feel when you think about the life you’ve created for yourself? Your words, your actions, your integrity? Whether happy, sad, or indifferent, just breathe. It’s all temporary anyway.

GROW with the thought that you everyday holds your opportunity “to be”, and to do different::If your heart’s desire is still unfulfilled, then choose to make it real, make it your priority. You can allow yourself to enjoy thinking about, working toward, planning for, or expressing your truth.

Allow patience to grow within you. Take life one moment at a time, so that you can mindfully lay your path toward your self-created bliss. Take it one breath at a time, and you can BE bliss. I suspect that if we all followed our bliss then there would never be a need to forgive ourself or others, because happiness and fulfillment would reign. Of course, we’d all have to learn to not take things personally; that however is fodder for a future post on don Miguel Ruiz‘s book of wisdom “The Four Agreements“. For now, just follow your breath to your bliss. How to find the thing that is blissful? If it feels good in your spirit, it IS good for YOU!

EXCERPTED LYRICS::

Everyday is an Opportunity

To forgive myself

Everyday is an opportunity

To re-elect myself

To fall in love with myself

Everyday, Everyday, Everyday

Every thought that I have

Every word that I speak

Every secret I tell

Every promise I keep

Is a reflection of me

I breathe In, I breathe it out

I breathe it in, I breathe it out

Everyday, I am creating this.

Heritage Music Day: Evolution of Gospel


This is an oldie but goodie; this song “Optimistic” by Sounds of Blackness is from the “Evolution of Gospel” album, and it holds amazing memories for me. I was a camp counselor at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, the oldest (and most radical) Episcopal church in Harlem, New York City, and the self chosen spiritual home off my youth. It was there, on 126th Street and Old Broadway / St, Mary’s place that I took my first communion, I first interacted with live chickens and turkeys, served on the altar, and sang in the junior choir. I learned that it is good to be a P.I.T.A. (pain in the ass) to oppressive authority (thanks to then head priest Rev. Robert Castle, (Jonathan Demme’s cousin), and I learned to open my heart, mind and social space to people who live without homes, and with HIV/AIDS. St. Mary’s Episcopal Church taught me deep compassion for people, and each week I witnessed unconditional acceptance as people of many persuasions served on the altar, sometimes to the displeasure of the Cardinal. St. Mary’s Episcopal ushered me into a noble adulthood that I cherish to this day.

In 1993, I served as a summer camp counselor, and we created a closing ceremony for our campers that required all camp staff and students to take part. We all marched and danced to this song together, and it caused us to share and develop a deep appreciation for that moment in time with every replay of the song during our many weeks of rehearsal. The adult camp counselor with the greatest seniority, Tim Collins passed not too long after our summer camp, but I remember his humor, his candor, his loving family and well….his candor 🙂 He was the glitter on many of my summer moments. Although he left us, he also left an indelible mark that I remember every time I play this song.

I share this song with you almost 20 years later because it still moves me. I still sensorially reconnect with St. Mary’s altar, where I served as altar girl, choir member and camp counselor. Everyone has challenging and heavy days that seem endless and consuming, but the Sounds of Blackness tell us “You can win! As long as you keep your head to the sky!” I remember Tim chose this song. Although it seems difficult today, remember that tomorrow is a new day, and it holds infinite possibilities for happiness. “Keep, keep on…”

Sounds of Blackness was ahead of their time, with the video, the mixture of choreography traditions and their sound. They paved the way for many other interpretations of gospel music. I am lucky to have had them as a soundtrack to my early youth, I thank Tim for the timeless advice he offered us all through this song, and I am so grateful to St. Mary’s Church for being such a safe space in my early years. Even now when I read the blog or occasionally call the new head Priest Father Kooperkamp,all I feel, hear and think of is “home”. St. Marys was an incredible place to grow up back in the day! This song holds all this profundity for me, accessible via a simple mouse-click in iTunes. I hope you enjoy it, even half as much as I do.

Shawndel

Humans Have Gone Rogue


Humans can choose to avail ourselves of kinship with and empathy for our non-human family…

My friends and colleagues who label themselves Environmentalists, use language that masks the intensity of the violence committed against sea and ocean life. Even well-intentioned allies that I admire and respect, unwittingly use the same violent euphemisms that obscure the true injustices hidden inside words like “offshore drilling” and “marine bio-exploration”, both code for business based manifest destiny and the ghettoization of the seas. I am committed to peaceful practices, and strive to use peaceful, clear language, however I do believe in naming things as they are so that we clearly understand our challenges. Oil exploration is more than a “noisy and chaotic rudeness” that scrambles sea mammals’ perceptual organs; “drilling” essentially overwhelms and clouds the senses that they use to survive, to find food, to find and communicate with family and pod members, to travel safely and avoid predators and environmental risks. What scientific terminology and current environmental language lacks is any indication or acknowledgement that oil companies purposely use violent, gitmo bay-esque sensory deprivation tactics. The risks are not a harmful by-product of oil exploration technology, they are the purpose of said technology. Science and industry can create many painless and helpful things, why then do they create harmful techniques and machinery to search for oil? Oil technology actively dissipates and discourages ocean animals’ life re-producing behaviors and opportunities. IT IS WARFARE. Oil explorers intentionally use WMD’s (the sonic air-guns and other devices) to displace the animal populations. Just as sea trawlers were created to rip up the seabed in search of Blue Fin Tuna, Oil drilling IS the intentional slaughter of sea-life so that oil will become easily accessible.

Humans have gone rogue because those of us who truly empathize with the dire plight of other life forms on our planet number less than our counterparts who are either numb to it, or economically oriented in their opinion. Humans have no more right to earth’s “Stuff” than other life forms, yet we plunder forward as if imperialism, and the plundering of resources is the natural order and all existence awaits colonization.

The Situation Today

In the same ways that ghettos around the world represent the isolation and containment of socially undesirable people within one under-served location, and jail is the first step toward sociocultural exile or physical death, oil exploration and drilling ghettoizes sea life.

Drilling nullifies opportunities to thrive, and natural, life-sustaining resources like nutrient–rich food, space to exercise / play / stretch is aggressively occupied by armed men. Traditional nee customary procreation rites and techniques of child-rearing all but disappear when external forces isolate generational knowledge into disparate locations, eventually sapping the spirits of the young and wizened elders alike. Oil rigs, air-gun based oil-exploration and oil ships ARE seek and destroy based weapons, they ARE the patter-rollers that isolate, capture, torture and/or destroy sea-life. It is their purpose. Each time our elected representatives make concessions to the oil industry, they spit on the trust and power that we’ve lent them. We elected them to do what is true and just for all, yet it is often the last item on the agenda. Do we really need to amend the founding documents to include  the sovereignty and inherent value of animal, human and plant life? Why can’t we trust our elected representatives to simply uphold the most peaceful of all sentiments? If not through representation, what shall we do? I think that we should simply hold ourselves accountable  in our daily life by setting new standards, ethics and practices. We can reclaim power from those who squander public trust.

Paul Nicklen

Image by Paul Nicklen, high quality wildlife photography available for purchase on Art.com. Click image to visit.

I’ve chosen to speak out, to take the time to write about this, to sign the petition and make my voice heard in a state where Oil they drill oil then ship to Japan and other points east. Not many Americans realize that we SELL oil, we don’t just consume it. In Texas, the United States sells oil for use elsewhere, so know that any congressional bill in favor of Arctic oil drilling only seeks to drain the geologic lifeblood from under America just any other “third-world nation”; that is, a weakened nation-state that must exploit and sell its natural resources because it’s finished products are intentionally undervalued or overpriced in the global marketplace.

What Can We Do?

Each of us must be honest with ourselves to make different choices about the ways we travel, what we choose to buy and consume, and then shift our philosophical approach to match. Our next steps must show our willingness to consistently choose to do things differently. This includes shifting our approach to democratic representation. It is time for us to fire, impeach, un-elect poor congressional, executive, gubernatorial, mayoral, any and all elected representatives who knowingly pass bills that advocate for the deaths of the innocent or deny legal standing or rights to any citizen, human, animal or other life-form. It would be unacceptable if the people were to re-elect, or otherwise positively reinforce elected officials who undergird their voting and alliances with violence.


An image of: Free Beluga Whales Swimming in the Ocean

Available for purchase at art.com. Click image to view original.

A Pod of Beluga Whales Swim at the Waters Surface by Norbert Rosing

Why must we voters must always petition politicians to do what is right and just? Why don’t they automatically vote against greedy, trickster bills and policy, and then tell us that they did so? Inaction indicates that they do not have a positive, peaceful / non-violent moral compass and therefore SHOULD NOT represent the people. We hire them to do good works on our behalf at the policy level in the Nation’s capital, so that we can work, provide for our families and build a social fabric and nurture an environment that nurtures life in all its life-affirming forms. Why then must we always chide, cajole, and hambug elected officials to do these very things? If they DON’T affirm peace, freedom or sacredness of all beings everywhere, then what IS their orientation toward life, your life, my life, and who did we really elect to represent us?

The Visionary Activist – Diving into the Dark – February 23, 2012 at 2:00pm
http://kpfaweb.kpfa.org/misc/utilities/players/1pixelout/player.swf
Click to listen (or download)

Since we live in the age of digital petitions, you should sign the petition with “Don’t Be A Bucket Head”. This effort is from a vetted source and the signatures will be hand delivered to Washington. I trust mytho-astro-poetic genius, seer and weaver of aligned context Caroline Casey, and she trusts Michael Stoker. On her KPFA show, Visionary Activist, she invited Micheal to speak, and he explains the situation and shared the beautifully melodic vocalizations from Beluga Whales, and Ringed-Seals.

Listen to the amazing sounds of Ring Seals, Beluga Whales and learn about the 5-Year Oil Exploration bill before Congress

SHARE THIS WITH OTHERS, and WAKE THEM UP!

Encourage Yourself


Lyrics

Sometimes you have to encourage yourself

Sometimes you have to speak victory during the test

and no matter how you feel, just the speak the word and you will be healed!

Speak over your self, encourage yourself, in the Lord, ooooh

(choir) Sometimes you, have to encourage yourself

gotta pat your own self on the back, yeah

(Sometimes you have to speak victory during the test)

And no matter how you feel, speak the word over your life, ooooh and you will be healed

Speak over yourself, encourage yourself, in the Lord.

Second Verse

Sometimes you have to speak the word over yourself,

Depression is all around, but God is present help!

Well the enemy created walls, but remember giants, they do fall

Speak over yourself, encourage yourself, in the Lord, oh!

crescendo

As I minister to you, oh, I minister to myself…

Life can hurt you so, ’til you feel there’s nothing left…oooh!

(chorus) (no matter how you feel)

Speak the word over your life and you will, you will be healed!

(Speak over yourself)

Sometimes you gotta look in the mirror and tell yourself “I can make it!”

(speak over yourself)

You gotta remember that life and death lies in the power of your own tongue.

Even if nobody tells you you can run on, YOU TELL YOURSELF!

You gotta remember I’m more than a conqueror!

(I’m encouraged!) Greater as HE rests me …..yeah,

(I’m encouraged)

I believe that the Lord said about me!

(I’m encouraged!)

Everything that the enemy ever told me: It’s a Lie! It’s a Lie! It’s a Lie!

(I’m encouraged!)

Yeaaaahhh! Yeaaaahhh! Yeaaaahhh!

(I’m encouraged!) I’m encouraged!   (I’m encouraged) Oh Yes I am!

(I’m encouraged!) Oooh Yes I am! (I’m encouraged!)  Yeahhhh!

I,  will lift up mine eyes unto hills! yeah. All of my help, all of my help comes from the Lord!

I believe, I believe everything he said about me! Oh yeah!

(I’m encouraged)  Oh Yes I am! (I’m encouraged) Oh Yes I am! (I’m encouraged)
Oh…Yes I am! (I’m encouraged) hey , I am

I am, I believe I’m gonna run on, I’m gonna see what the end’s gonna be.

(I’m encouraged)

I know something better is out there waiting for me!

(I’m encouraged)

I believe everything the Lord said about me!

(I’m encouraged).

Speak over yourself, Encourage yourself, in the Lord.

END

The Right to Look is more our duty than a “right”


Book Cover: The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality by Nicholas Mirzoeff

“RSVP for the Book Launch for Nicholas Mirzoeff’s
The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 5:30 pm at 20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor, New York, NY

Space is limited and reservations are required. To RSVP, please visit: http://bitly.com/nicholasmirzoeff.

Register to attend a reception celebrating the publication of The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality (Duke University Press, 2011), by Nicholas Mirzoeff, Professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, NYU.
In The Right to LookNicholas Mirzoeff develops a comparative de-colonial framework for visual culture studies, the field that he helped to create and shape. Casting modernity as an ongoing contest between visuality and countervisuality, or “the right to look,” he explains how visuality sutures authority to power and renders the association natural. Encompassing the Caribbean plantation and the Haitian revolution, anticolonialism in the South Pacific, antifascism in Italy and Algeria, and the contemporary global counterinsurgency, The Right to Look is a work of astonishing geographic, temporal, and conceptual reach.”This event is free and open to the public.

**********

I studied with Nick during a semester “abroad” at NYU, yes, venturing beyond the 14th street divide counts as abroad for many New York City graduate students! (joke). That spring, I took a class in visual culture called “Modernity and Climate Change” in the Media Culture and Communication Studies Department. The class was simply amazing, with the range of discipline and perspectives represented. Our group conversations were candid, intense, exciting and enriching. Nicholas was a confident leader and didn’t overly direct the conversation or derail fruitful trains of thought.

I invited him to speak at the Ninth Annual Nature Ecology Society Colloquium where he delivered a talk “Islands of Justice: Imagining Climate Change. He made a big splash with they way he integrated images, and audience assumptions and cultural readings of climate change images and information, specifically that of islanders around the world whose lives are changing at the prospect of climactic shifts and sea-level changes.

He was a truly welcome addition to our roster, a major coup, I might add, and  he represented the start of a rich relationship between NES and NYU. I found him to be an engaging speaker, brilliant thinker, witty, real and personable!

I definitely recommend that people who grapple with visual studies and / or use digital media (as a theoretical foundation, for data collection, analysis or presentation) should attend. If you tell him I sent you, it’ll elicit a smile!

Let me know if you decide to go, I’d love to hear about it!

 Shawndel