By Diverse Tastes

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I am a music lover. I don’t stick with one genre – I love Cubanismo, Bjork, Couperin, U-2. I was never formally trained to play an instrument but I picked up a child’s accordion about three years ago. In other words…I know what it’s like to sound bad from lack of practice and not care because I love the sound I make! If you can identify, you’ll enjoy the poems in Tatiana Pietrzak’s book “The Music is Written”. As a bonus, you’ll also get to ponder which came first, music or nature? And are they really two separate things?
For instance, in “The Bird of Paradise”, Pietrzak tells the story of birds paying careful attention to her as she practices the violin:

“So is my violin a bird
To be recognized?
Has he reached notes,
Rhythms and cords,
That soar to heights
And sing of immortality?
Where in the bird’s mind
Do the notes of fiddles sing,
Is it a bird’s dream to one day be
a violin?”

In a more mystical piece, “Sea Song”, the poet starts out with a profound, paradoxical thought:
“There is a sound that circles the entire world,
Under the waters,
Near the deepest bed of the sea.
We do not hear it.”

The immensity of this statement moves me. I enjoy imagining a sound that is big enough to “circle the entire world”, a sound I cannot hear. The part of me that loves music as sound understands immediately what Pietrzak is referring to. Later in the poem, she prompts me to consider what the gifts of the sea really mean to me:

“The mind is said to be ten times as great in strength
Than anything on earth
When applied with curiosity
Creativity
And sadly fear or greed.

If the mind remains unbridled
It will even restrain
The wild and free rhythms of the oceans’ aged songs,
Into a few temporal measures.

We listen to the songs of the dolphins and the whales for
Now,
Recording their songs as if they were the new music
Of this generation,

…and this may be the case.”

Regardless of which generation we belong to, these days we are all somehow affected by information overload-it is. Want to rest and unplug? “The Music Is Written” is like a little island devoted to loafing. If you take just one poem a week and loaf with it, line by line, you might find yourself sleeping better and maybe searching through Craig’s list for a great deal on something that’s used and has strings or keys…

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The Bird Of Paradise

The eyes of birds

Surrounding,

An audience to the violin.

What a fascinated

Gathering!

Intently listening,

To fly away

Only when I stop

And look,

Ceasing sound and bow

And air of musicality.

 

To wish to know their mind:

 

Are they capable of curiosity?

Of learning notes?

Experimenting?

Envy of the violin’s

Tonal range?

 

Birds have songs for territory,

Courage, strength, ferocity.

Even greater songs for

Love,

Fidelity,

Tunes of heredity.

 

The varied notes procure progeny.

Securing both before

And what is to come.

 

The greater the range

The lady-bird hears,

The more she’ll sing along,

Adding new tunes of young.

 

So is my violin a bird

To be recognized?

Has he reached notes,

Rhythms and cords

That soar to heights

And sing of immortality?

Where in the bird’s mind

Do the notes of fiddles sing,

Is it a bird’s dream to one day be

A violin.

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Music Poetry Neuroscience – a workout for the brain…

In 2008, I was diagnosed with terminal cancer that had metastasized to different areas of my body. Most of the tumors shrank or disappeared with chemotherapy. Five months after treatments however, two more tumors located on the speech center of my brain were found. Doctors performed Gamma Knife Radiation Brain Surgery on them, and fortunately those cancer cells died off as well. (See earlier blog post under September 2010: Hard Rock – Pinktober Fest & My Cancer Story.)

I did have some concern at the time that all these treatments would somehow affect my cognitive functioning. My doctor suggested I exercise my mind with brain teasers, riddles and puzzles. I did choose to give my brain a ‘workout’ with these, and felt like I was back in grade school when we were given IQ games to help develop our cognitive abilities. I also found that playing music and writing poetry about music helped to give me clarity of mind. I have since then become curious to know what happens inside our ‘nogans’ when we are engaged in active thinking, dance, making art, listening to and playing music, and in the process of writing.

In this post, I will explore the effects of music on the brain:

Scientists used to think that the brain’s nerve cells, the neurons, continually started to die off from the time humans reached their early 20’s in age. Today, neuroscientists believe that the brain is more like other muscles in the body: if it is exercised, it strengthens at no matter what age a person has reached. In fact, the quantity of neural connectors, the dendrites and axons, actually increase when fed the right types of stimulation.

Playing music is one highly effective way to exercise the brain since it stimulates the production of neural connectors in many areas of the brain. In the past, neurologists thought that there was only one center in the brain for music, as there is for speech and motor skills. However, FMRI’s (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and PET (Positron Emission Tomography) technologies are now able to show that nerve cells, or neurons, fire off chemicals all over the brain as one creates music. The brain actually breaks music down into loudness, pitch, tempo, timbre, etc. It first detects these different qualities and then reconnects and interprets the information as music. We can’t tell that the brain is doing this because it happens within around 30 thousandths of a second – lightening fast! – and giving it a good workout.

Musicians are also known to have larger brains. Certain areas have greater amounts of grey matter. Logically this follows if the brain increases its neural connections when stimulated by music. Brain activity in non-musicians has also been shown to increase after only just a year of music lessons.

In addition, the more active one is with music, the greater the potential is for creating these connections as well. FMRI’s indicate that when someone sings, different areas of the brain ‘light up’ as neurons fire off electrical charges. When a person sings with another, even more areas become active because there is millisecond decision making being executed in order to stay in time and harmonize with the other. Brain activity increases even more if there are other instruments to time oneself to and a conductor to watch.

I felt that music, poetry, and my own ‘Music Poetry’, have helped me increase my cognitive functioning after it was dulled by chemotherapy and brain surgery. I like to think that I am doing my brain a world of good when I sit to focus on one or (as in my case) both of these arts at the same time. I am further glad to know that I can continue to develop my brain by keeping active in these artistic studies as I age. It makes me wonder why art and music are being taken out of our schools. It seems there is enough evidence to show their beneficial effects on brain development from cradle to old age. What is your opinion?

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Please use the comments at the bottom of this post to tell me your own stories, poems, opinions and thoughts.

In the next post we will focus on how poetry requires both hemispheres of the brain to be created…

Here is a sample of Music Poetry to contemplate until then:

Soft sounds on the eardrum

Lead to temperate moods; calming actions.

The blissful ear

Is more likely to hear,

When states of mind

Can grow

In fertile ground.

Sources: Optimizing Brain Fitness, by Prof. Richard Restak, The Great Courses, 2011;

Brain Building Games, by Allen D. Bragdon and David Gamon, Brainwaves Books, 2001;

The Music Instinct – Science and Song, Mannes Productions, Inc. 2009

Writing assignment: Write about how music has influenced your education.

Music assignment: Compose a few musical exercises that you feel challenges your cognitive abilities.  (ex: a fugue)

Music Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltISpYhSsZs

To Order the Book, THE MUSIC IS WRITTEN by Tatiana Pietrzak, a collection of poetry about music:  http://rosedogbooks-store.stores.yahoo.net/musiciswritten.html

Or call Rose Dog Books: 1-800-834-1803

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Reviews:

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What Time Period?

Chicago 642 (2)

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The Making of Music

From what period in time was the earliest musical notation found? Where was it found?

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Please use the comments at the bottom of this post to tell me your own stories, poems, opinions and thoughts.

Music Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltISpYhSsZs

To Order the Book THE MUSIC IS WRITTEN by Tatiana Pietrzak, a collection of poetry about music:  http://rosedogbooks-store.stores.yahoo.net/musiciswritten.html

Or call Rose Dog Books: 1-800-834-1803

T-shirts, Hoodies, dog t-shirts, Jerseys, Sweatshirts, infants suit, bibs, mugs, wall clocks, tile coasters, tote bags, mousepad, calendars, keepsake boxes, water bottles, magnets, postcards, stickers, journals, note cards, greeting cards, posters:http://www.cafepress.com/RoseDogShirts/7184491

Reviews:

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Mark O’Connor

I had the honor of meeting Mark O’Connor backstage last night at a benefit concert for the Santa Fe Youth Symphony. He is our country’s greatest fiddler, a multi–Grammy winning violinist/composer/educator. The first half of the performance was flawlessly improvised. His on-the-spot compositions included influences of folk music from all over the Americas.

Mark has created a method of teaching string instruments using American music, the American Roots Music Program, which is taught to young musicians at his summer camps in Tennessee and the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

My own book of Music Poetry, Music Is Written, was greatly inspired by O’Connor’s cd Hot Swing! This is great music to wake up to. The violin is soft, but the music is so lively it has one jumping out of bed. It strongly inspired some of the poems I wrote in my book. Double Stop is from when I was learning to play two strings simultaneously on the violin after being inspired by listening to Swingin’ On The ‘Ville. The Calculus Of Sound came from that album’s genius of lightness through speed and simplicity becoming astounding to the ear. His American style was also a definite influence on Chompin’ To The Beat, Summer Swamp, The Indian Flute,The City’s Hum, and Seekers Of Solace. These were written while I was driving across the South and having a true American experience. Mark’s music gave the feeling of folkness that helped me feel rooted to our country’s land and people.

markoconnor.com

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Please use the comments at the bottom of this post to tell me your own stories, poems, opinions and thoughts.

Writing assignment: Write on what physical and emotional experiences you undergo when listening to folk music.

Music assignment: Listen to some folk music and try playing it without any sheet music.

Music Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltISpYhSsZs

To Order the Book, THE MUSIC IS WRITTEN by Tatiana Pietrzak, a collection of poetry about music:  http://rosedogbooks-store.stores.yahoo.net/musiciswritten.html

Or call Rose Dog Books: 1-800-834-1803

T-shirts, Hoodies, dog t-shirts, Jerseys, Sweatshirts, infants suit, bibs, mugs, wall clocks, tile coasters, tote bags, mousepad, calendars, keepsake boxes, water bottles, magnets, postcards, stickers, journals, note cards, greeting cards, posters:http://www.cafepress.com/RoseDogShirts/7184491

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Sound Into Form

It is possible to put a tuning fork to a metal plate with iron filings on it, and the vibrations of the sound of the fork will move the filings into a shape. Different notes will create different patterns. Sound becomes form. It makes us wonder what our words do to each other. When we hear nails scratching a blackboard it bothers the nerves in our backs, irritating our senses. Something is being pushed around and moved within us for us to be able to feel something as the result of that sound.

This makes me hope that someday scientists will find a way to use sound to move the parts of cancer cells around so that they are destroyed. It would be so much less invasive than surgery, and less nauseating than chemotherapy. It also makes me wonder what affect music has on the physical body. Many of us have heard that plants will thrive when exposed to soft classical music, and wilt when exposed to heavy metal. I have never tried this experiment, but if any of you have send a comment below and tell us what you have observed.

If all of you is listening

You can embrace the sting from

Inside out,

And its sound

Will play upon

Life’s heartbeat.

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Please use the comments at the bottom of this post to tell me your own stories, poems, opinions and thoughts.

Writing assignment: Write about 5 different sounds and how they physically affect you.

Music assignment: Create 2 pieces of music or write 2 songs: one that is very irritating and the other soothing.

Music Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltISpYhSsZs

To Order the Book, THE MUSIC IS WRITTEN by Tatiana Pietrzak, a collection of poetry about music:   http://rosedogbooks-store.stores.yahoo.net/musiciswritten.html

Or call Rose Dog Books: 1-800-834-1803

T-shirts, Hoodies, dog t-shirts, Jerseys, Sweatshirts, infants suit, bibs, mugs, wall clocks, tile coasters, tote bags, mousepad, calendars, keepsake boxes, water bottles, magnets, postcards, stickers, journals, note cards, greeting cards, posters: http://www.cafepress.com/RoseDogShirts/7184491

Reviews:

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