Monday, April 17, 2017

Music in times of change

In the midst of change and uncertainty, it’s often a good idea to take time for contemplation and reflection, time to find interior silence -- even when there may not be much in exterior circumstances to encourage that.

Music is a good gateway to silence. That can seem a paradox, but recall that creating music is as much about the notes as the space between them. It has been said that a painter paints on canvas, and a musician paints on silence.

With those ideas in mind, take a listen to these four pieces of music.

At times music without words -- tunes, in the Celtic music world -- invite this sort of reflection. Fiddle player and composer Hanneke Cassel draws on the traditions of Scotland and Cape Breton with hints of bluegrass, Americana, and occasional inflections to other places her travels have taken her. Take a listen to the Gretl in the Garden set, which you may find recorded on her album Trip to Walden Pond.

Songwriter Carrie Newcomer often looks to intersections of faith and the everyday to frame her stories. Hers is a clear eyed faith and a clear hearted look at living both in the moment and seeing threads of connection, grace, and spirit that pull through, now and then laced with humor too. In this song, Newcomer reminds that in times of uncertainty it is often wise to, as she says in the title of her song, Lean In Toward the Light. The song is recorded on her album The Beautiful Not Yet.

Music can be a gift of hope, whatever the circumstance. Cara Dillon knows this. Dillon comes from Northern Ireland and loves to perform and record music from the folk traditions of Ireland and Scotland. She recognizes ideas that connect across time and oceans, too. This song, Bright Morning Stars Arising, has engaged Dillon’s audiences from Ireland to Scotland to China. You may find it on her album A Thousand Hearts.

The members of the band Capercaillie have taken their music to Africa, the middle east, North America, and other points across the globe. Their base, and the heart of their music, is in their home in Scotland, however. You will hear references to Scotland in this song -- the poetry of Sorely Maclean, for instance. It is a piece that invites more than one listen for both melody and words, though, and connects with ideas of contemplation, reflection, and trust whatever place you may call home. Karen Matheson sings lead. The song and the album where you will find it are both called At the Heart of It All.

You may also wish to see
Gaelic, family, story: Karen Matheson
more about Cara Dillon’s album A Thousand Hearts
Music, silence, and spiritual journey
Music and mystery: conversation with Carrie Newcomer

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posted by Kerry Dexter at

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