Flow vs Concentration

Conversation in the dressing room after the second show at B.B.King centered around the flow of awareness during a musical performance. I explained that in my view consciousness naturally flows and does not rest in one activity, that in fact concentration is not effective for a performance.

Attention flows from that harmonic is a little off – try to bend the note to the lights are hot in the back of my neck to I cannot hear the bass clearly enough to that cajon is funky etc. Now, if one were to concentrate on the melody only, one’s rhythm might be off, if one were to focus on the bowing of the string, the flow of the melody might be off etc. If one gets stuck on just one aspect of the music (rhythm, pitch, melody, sound-production etc.) the result will sound wooden and not musical. In other words, letting our attention naturally flow between all of the different elements of making music is better than concentrating. Concentrating is what we have to do when we learn to play an instrument, or when we learn a new piece – but it is not the way to perform music. This flow-concept is something I feel can be applied to everything from creating art to cooking to parenting.

Another example where we use this flow on a daily basis: when we learn how to drive we concentrate so hard on releasing the clutch without stalling the car that we might rev the engine much higher than is necessary – which we suddenly realize. After a while we learn to let our attention flow naturally between checking the rearview mirrors, looking at the distance to the car ahead, checking the RPM based on hearing the engine, shifting, breaking, steering… The worst thing we can do is stare at the blacktop ahead – that is exhausting. Much better to let one’s eyes and attention flow to where they are needed.

This morning I taped a one hour radio show for NPR called The Song is You. The host, Bonnie Grist, played some music from Winter Rose as well as some music she allowed me to pick – Jimi Hendrix, Brian Eno (from On Land), Bjork (from Vespertine) – and we talked about music. It was wonderful to talk with a radio person who loves music and is knowledgeable and passionate about radio – rather than a commercial radio jock who reads the name of the next song in rotation from a playlist on their computer screen…

When we were done with the recording of the show Bonnie asked whether I had ever considered doing my own radio show, saying that I have an interesting eclectic taste and something to say. I said that it had crossed my mind and that I would love to do something for either Public radio or Satellite radio. Eclectic music – some world music, flamenco, latin, ambient etc. Call me, let’s have lunch and talk about my radio show.

Friday Morning

Jon and I are sitting on the bus in New Jersey with a view of the Manhattan skyline, which is ablaze in glorious sunshine. It is cold, but not as cold as it was last night. Toronto was 13F when we left. Luckily our driver decided to leave earlier than planned, because Buffalo received 11 inches of snow right after we came through.
leaving Toronto
This is a photo Steve took as our busses were leaving the hotel in Toronto.

Looking out of the window of the bus as we were leaving the hotel, I noticed a person apparently attempting to sleep on the sidewalk in a cardboard box – at 13F! I wonder how many homeless people die of exposure in cities like Toronto, Buffalo or Chicago each winter.

I had a nice Oryoki Thanksgiving in Toronto. I had decided to celebrate the holiday by eating “just enough” (that’s the translation of the Japanese word Oryoki) and had only one meal, a wonderful lunch at Terroni. It felt more like a “Thanksgiving” than the big traditional meals.

Google vs Writers/Publishers

David’s Journal: Current
Our tools we’ve developed, language included, deal with the parts of our brains that have allowed us to achieve a lot, but it is not necessarily the part that most often moves us and motivates us to action, love, hatred, fear, ambition and awe. The part we know and are comfortable with seems to be the part we use to justify those actions, but it is not always the originator.


Paraphrasing Wittgenstein, my thoughts are limited by my language, might be only half true – there are other languages out there that we use every day, comfortably, fluently and effortlessly, but they are beyond the reach of Google and binary bits, so far.

Excellent post by David Byrne on Google vs writers/publishers. The book publishing industry is not very different from big music biz and I suspect we will see a lot of changes in the near future.

Thanksgiving Lunch

Very nice lunch at Terroni on Victoria Street today, not far from the Winter Garden Theater and our hotel. HERE is the menu and HERE is a map. I enjoyed the Segrato Rosso wine by Planeta very much also. Unfortunately the coffee was not illy although there was an illy poster on the wall. Nice restaurant and good food!

Toronto last Night

Winter Garden, Toronto
You can click on the above photo to view Just Me’s slideshow of photos from last night’s performance in Toronto, a performance I enjoyed very much. The venue was beautiful and sounded great and the audience was as wonderful as I remembered Toronto audiences to be. We were having some gremlins in the monitor system, but the performance transcended those.
Winter Garden, Toronto - Ceiling1
Photo of the ceiling. About the Winter Garden Theater:

Designated a national historic site in 1982, the Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre Centre is the last “double-decker” or stacked Edwardian theatre facility in the world. Built in 1913 as the flagship of the famous Loews chain of vaudeville theatres, the 1,500-seat Elgin theatre (downstairs) is a sumptuous affair with royal boxes and exquisite gilded plaster details. Upstairs, however, is the magical Winter Garden, named for the trompe l’oeil paintings of vines and pastoral, and the fabulous simulated fire-proof garden that hangs from the roof, including thousands of beech boughs. Multi-million dollar renovations mean that for all the ambiance, these two theatres are state-of-the-art.

Toronto Soundcheck
Steve’s photo of the soundcheck.