Unknown / Out In The Open

There is a great hope.

It is like a huge underground lake of fresh water, a storehouse and spring of courage, life and energy. It is a great treasure source of comprehension and fulfilment.

Hidden throughout all the ages, the breath from our lips can utter of it little more than ” M . Y . S . T . E . R . Y . ”

But pay attention. For that which was unknown

Is now out in the open.

“Release Plans”

I spent yester-eve with (bro) Hamish and our mix-engineer Matt Caradus making final moves on the soon-to-be released ‘Black Boy Peaches’ album.

It’s nice to be able to execute a “release plan” (lol) while actually being on deadline, unlike the last time (in the dark-ages of 2010) when we missed the Company Feel Good release-date by over a month!

Anyhow, as good as this is… I may as well say that the concept of planning is dubious, at best. The future is so unpredictably filled with twists and turns that pretending to hold the reigns is a little on the naive side. Typing up a nice looking release hit-list is comforting, sure, and it does help by giving some practical goals to hit. But it is just a one-dimensional view of what is in reality a kaleidoscopic-future, and it is guaranteed not to work as anticipated. If you’ve ever planned anything that involves other people in the slightest (i.e. almost everything ever), you’ll know what it’s like to have missed emails, inconclusive phone calls, and a lack of interest in what you are trying to achieve!

The plan looks great until on the first day when somebody says No!

So, our album release is more to do with intent than planning. Our goal is obviously to give our precious album that we have loved and laboured over as much a chance of filling the airwaves as possible; so, for what it’s worth, we will plan and do everything within our capacity to aid that. But rather than trying to force a narrow, single-lane vision of the future into existence, our release preparation will be focused on a) remaining open to possibilities, b) finding and connecting with people with whom we find resonance, and c) enjoying the mystery of life and the anticipation of new music.

Well, enough with the positive self-talk, better go and finish my release plan!

Focused Breathing

Yesterday, as part of one of my university classes, a Thai monk led an introductory session on Buddhist meditation. He essentially focused on mindfulness and relaxation techniques.

One part of this session included an exercise I already use (sometimes), which is helpful when seeking to focus: breathing practice. While breathing on the whole is clearly easy, breathing with intent is surprisingly difficult. But making the effort to stop and take several deep (and slow) breaths is a great feeling.

I have to focus on doing this while drumming – especially during a pieces that require extra attention. I often find myself holding my breath completely! The practice of disciplined breathing while playing is helpful for being attentive to the performance, but it can be challenging. It actually introduces a different sense of rhythm into the equation: relaxed breathing doesn’t often sync with the song tempo!

The discipline of breathing / the art of breathing… is a good starting point for christian spiritual practice. It allows for attention to God in this moment; for stillness before the Word; and for mobilisation by the Spirit, right here & right now.

Genesis 1:2 … and the breath of God hovered over the waters.

Diminished Chords

I never understood the purpose of diminished chords.

[A diminished chord that appears naturally within a major scale is that which starts in the 7th position of the scale. The chord is completed with two minor-3rd intervals on top (an interval which is 3-half steps up the scale). In C Major, this would be a chord with the notes B – D – F. To contrast this with major and minor chords, B minor == B – D – F# : B major == B – D# – F#.]

Major and minor, these are easy enough. You can play them together, and they sound good. There’s heaps of combinations. But a diminished chord, … ugh. Well, I have just blocked it out as a possible option whenever I’ve been playing.

But! But now I understand. When practising arpeggios up and down through a key (eg. F#, G#m, A#m, B, C#, D#m, Fdim … F#) I found that, yes, there is a musical place for diminished chords. In context, moving slowly and musically through various note-patterns, and (importantly) resolving from the diminished to the home chord, I had my aha moment. It actually sounded nice!

The strange and untenable has its place in a diverse environment where there is movement, (melodic) distinction and resolution.

Enjoy the tension… just keep it moving!

Why I Love Music

I love the joy of hearing new things unfold. I love exploring and discovering new depths in unexpected places. I love how in the diligence and focus of practise there is a clarity of mind awaiting, an uncovering of new ideas. I love music when you can hear a passion, a unique life-expression, a heart-beat, coming from the players and singers. I love the physical part of music: as our body warms up and we commit more fully to the process, the music gets better, and we become more honest.

I love the immediacy of music: It brings me fully into the present. I love its road-mapping possibilities: we’re here now, but we could be anywhere soon! I love the structures within music: there are cathedrals to build – though we are not limited by resource, but only taste. I love the unity of music: when the next section arrives and every person is committed, for a moment there is complete integrity of purpose – the members of the band or group are of one mind.

I love how music has the ability to raise the hairs on the back of my neck. I love that music can cause me to feel confusion, anger, outrage; excitement, hope, or delight. I love listening somebody sing something that causes a change in my thinking: an “oh…” or an “ah!” moment. I love experiencing technical expertise in music. I love when you can sense technical expertise in someone, but even more evident is the constant restraint that they show. I love the endless possibilities within music. I love the process of creating, unfolding, designing. I love the process of putting my heart on my sleeve, and standing behind a song or an idea. I love that we are able to capture moments, capture expressions, capture sounds through recording. I love the complex detail within some recordings, and the surprising simplicity within others.

Music is a 5-minute or 40-minute echo of life; it shapes us, moulds us, mirrors us, exposes us. Music says things about us that we don’t understand. It causes us to say things about ourselves that surprise. Music is a life-breath sometimes, it is an overflow other times; it is addictive, it is bitter, it is medicine, it is poison. Some people live for it, some people thrive on it, some jog to it, some go deaf for it. Music is a wide and broad as the east to the west, as high as the sky is from the depths. It is as personal as it gets, yet as universal as anything can be. Music is wonderful, mysterious, out-of-control, subtle, delicate, outrageous, beautiful.

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