With autumn now in full swing, there's a different feeling in the air. Gone are the warm summer nights. As we move forward into less daylight and attempt to bypass elements of seasonal depression, it's important to ask: do you have any special music you turn to this time of year?
This past month, I've really fallen in love with the music of Suzanne Ciani. Particularly the albums Seven Waves (1982) and The Velocity Of Love (1986). There's also something captivating and uplifting about her appearance on the television show 3-2-1 Contact, which you can view below. I used to watch this show as a kid! Talk about a nostalgic blast from the past.
The legendary singer Tony Bennett has been living with Alzheimer's in recent years. Last night I watched an incredible piece on "60 Minutes" about Tony as he prepared to play his final shows at Radio City Music Hall.
Music is an unparalleled activator for Tony. Being a performer and true professional is so hard-wired into his brain that it is a sight to behold when the curtain rises and he is on stage, in his element.
What's more is Tony is not relying on replicating notes verbatim from sheet music. As a Jazz singer, he is adding nuance, variation, and improvisation in every performance. Tony's neurologist Dr. Gayatri Devi states, "Even though he doesn't know what the day might be or where his apartment is, he still can sing the whole repertoire of the American songbook and move people."
When asked how music stimulates the brain, Dr. Devi responds, "music engages multiple parts of the brain. There's the auditory cortex for hearing. There's the part of the brain that deals with movement and dance. There's the visual system that gets engaged, so it's kind of like a whole brain activator."
I've included the entire segment above. There's a moment on stage with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga that really moved me, but I won't spoil it.
For many, Monday signals a return to the work week grind. It can come with its fair share of emotions. A push and pull of yearning for the freedom and revitalization often associated with the weekend, coupled with the drive and determination to access a productive and optimized flow state. A work week that leaves you getting ahead in what you seek to achieve, without sacrificing your well being or humanity.
The right music can help prevent a workspace from becoming draining, boring, stale, or devoid of human spirit. Recently, I was introduced to a phenomenal album by my dear friend Tim Berrigan. It's called "playing piano for dad" by h hunt, and I find it to be a highly replayable piece of music that suits the workspace exquisitely. Mellow, warm, and intimate, it can speak to your soul without bombastically interrupting your focus on other tasks. Read on for a bit more about the album, and if you need something new for your headphones, I encourage you to seek this one out. I put a link to the music in the comments section.
"Recorded in one comfortably-seated take at Studio Ferber, Paris, France in 2015 - h hunt’s ‘playing piano for dad’ was initially conceived as a Christmas gift to the composer’s father. Intimately recorded, it is a heartbreakingly gorgeous & sincere work of eleven vignettes which capture even the most nuanced sounds of the recording session - the composer’s breath, the shifting sounds of the piano pedals, the ambient noise and conversation within the studio. With minimalist tendencies, h hunt’s compositions are earnest and heartfelt."
Harmony Integrative Therapy has an extended family. Key people who have inspired us and help make the world a better place. For our first spotlight on the community, we're sending a special shout out to Austin Morford of Morfbeats.
Austin is a skilled designer, builder, and engraver of innovative instruments for Morfbeats alongside his brother Adam. It's not often you come across a family who is creating new instruments, building them from scratch, and inspiring unparalleled levels of creativity in the music realm. In this video you can hear Austin creating a hypnotic rhythm with Morfbeats' High Octave Gamelan Strips and Low Mid Octave Block Bells. It's a thing of beauty to witness.
Aside from the credentials mentioned above, Austin is a composer, ultra talented musician, and all around great person. His designs are a dream come true for the music therapy world: beautiful sounding, hand crafted instruments that can be arranged in a plethora of adaptive, accessible set ups. For example, his Chromatic Gamelan Strips can be arranged in the same shape of a piano octave, or you can reduce the number of pieces at your heart's desire. Try out just having two tones to bounce off of. Need a specific scale? Eliminate a few strips and you have the notes of the pentatonic scale. Or, throw the constraints of music theory and tonal harmony out the window completely, make a custom arrangement, cease to analyze, and just follow the muse. It's endless fun.
Here at Harmony Integrative, we feature a full Chromatic Gamelan Strip set in our library for utilization during music therapy sessions. Thank you Austin for doing all that you do, and for helping us provide the highest quality therapeutic services possible.
Head over to the Lesson Resources section of the site to check out a new 3/4 backing track that was added today!
"Here's a fun beat for playing in 3/4 waltz time. There is a lot of syncopation in this one. Not every drum part is hitting on the strong beat. Have fun grooving along with it! The tempo is 135 BPM. This is an example of a composition made using the Supermoon drum beat."
Watercolor + gouache painting by eldowho. Right Click it and hit "open image in new tab" to see it in glorious detail.
Did you know there is a Lesson Resources section of this site? It includes many different resources for people who are learning an instrument. The goal of the Lesson Resources section is to help make practicing more fun and effective. I will be adding to this page ongoingly.
I just started a new collection called Drones & Pedal Tones. The key of C was the first in the series, and now earlier today the key of G has been added. Expect more to arrive shortly. But why pedal tones, and what are they?
Pedal Tone - Pedal point, in music, a tone sustained through several changes of harmony that may be consonant or dissonant with it; in instrumental music it is typically in the bass.
Drone - A sustained tone, usually rather low in pitch, providing a sonorous foundation for a melody or melodies sounding at a higher pitch level.
"Try practicing some scales over these sustained tones. Or, you may find yourself treating the sound as a pedal tone to play chords over. It could even inspire some improvisation. Alone, these drones can sound monotonous. However, treating them as a foundation for musical exploration, you can easily get lost in your playing and take flight." - Will