Posted by: ktzefr | March 16, 2011

Music to write by…

“Hour of nostalgia, hour of happiness, hour of solitude,/hour that is mine from among them all!/Hunting horn through which the wind passes singing.” ~ Neruda

I enjoy different kinds of music — to dance by, to sing along with, to enhance an afternoon nap.  I cook by music, clean by music, and read by music.  I spent a month one spring exercising to Exodus (Bob Marley and the Wailers).  Late nights, wide awake from too much caffeine and surfing the net, I listen to Enrique (95/08).   When I want to make the house come alive with music I play Yanni (Snowfall) or Nanda Manachi’s Prestame el camino.  I love Celtic music and, once in awhile in a dreamy mood, I listen to Keltik Elektrik’s Wild Mountain Thyme. The McPeake Family made it famous, but Jim Malcolm sings it here with a little hip hop beat underneath.

Years ago, when I was working in DC, I would stop by a Greek deli for coffee and a pastry every morning and the background music was as much an eye-opener as was the morning joe.   HERE Kostas Mantzios sings about Eleni (Helen of Troy), along with a pretty video.

A few minutes of Anastasia Moutsatsou or Kostas Mantzios is still good with coffee even though I’m too “mature” these days to believe Anastasia when she sings about the power of love solving the mysteries of life.  I also like salsa music, but I’ve not yet found the time nor the energy to learn the dance.  A while back I discovered Salsa Celtica, a group that, believe it or not, mixes salsa with the traditional music of Scotland.  How does that work, exactly?  Think bagpipes and bongos.  Love it!

I grew up with gospel, country, bluegrass, 60s folk, and rock and roll.  Of that group I like the folk-rock combo best, but gospel music still reverberates in my soul from early childhood.  I have too many favorites to list them all and I’m always finding new sounds that make me feel as if I’m hearing music for the very first time.

I like to write by these “first time” sounds.  I can only have instrumental music in the background when I read or write.  If the songs have words, forget it.  I’m listening to those words rather than writing my own.  Some of my favorites to write by…

Willie and Lobo, Gypsy Boogaloo (“Dance with You” does have a few words)  I discovered Willie and Lobo in the early 90s and enjoy all their work, but still like this one the best.  Willie Royal plays violin and Lobo (Wolfgang Fink) the acoustic guitar.   The two met years ago while playing at a bar in Puerto Vallarta, and this collection has been called “one of the best exotic music dishes of the early 90s.”  Still yummy after all these years.

Mizuyo Komiya, Color Imagine spring rain turned into music.  These pieces are played on a 25-stringed koto (a Japanese instrument).  Soothing like the music of a harp or the song of an exotic bird.

Jia Peng Fang, Erhu: Jia Peng Fang Best Jia Peng Fang is a virtuoso of the erhu (Chinese violin).  He has played at hundreds of live concerts in China, Japan, and the US.  Every piece on this CD is haunting and lovely.  I never tire of hearing it.  I light a candle, brew a pot of tea, pick up a pen…

Tibetan singing bowls… a great massage for the soul.  I was browsing in a small Tibet shop in Old Town Alexandria once and heard someone playing the bowls.  I picked up a bowl and tried.  Nothing.  Not even a squeak.  It takes patience to play a bowl, but those who have the right touch can produce beautiful sounds.  There are a number of singing bowl CDs, but one of my favorites is called Golden Spa Tones, which incorporates a flute and the sounds of the sea.  When I’m at a spot where I don’t have anything else to say, the bowls provide a great background for an afternoon nap.

Speaking of which…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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