I wonder how many posts I titled Monday Morning since 1994…
Click here for the answer.
The sky was spectacular as I set out on my four mile walk this morning. I listened to the new album in the sequence of tracks I had settled on and loved everything I heard. Well, except for one little thing that I will investigate today. Today I will pick imagery for the album cover. Because this version of vision 2020 will be called the Lockdown Version I searched my catalog of about 25,000 photographs for images that looked through windows at the outside. I also came across a photo of a birdcage that I felt was very poignant.
Regardless of the title and the time this music was created in, I find that it is upbeat and hopeful. How did Roshi Joan put it?
I am not an optimist nor a pessimist. I am hopeful.
And now I will have breakfast:
Sometimes simple is better. Last night’s performance had no technical difficulties. Perhaps I was taxing my aging laptop too much by trying to use two additional USB cameras. It did work once and then never again.
For the slideshow that has come to bookend my streaming performances I picked images from a tour in Japan in 2009. Travel has become difficult, if not impossible, and I thought some virtual travel was in order. Traveling without moving. Armchair travel. The slideshow progressed towards photos that were very impressionistic and all about the color and the light. Here are a couple of samples:
I have always enjoyed the color photography of Ernst Haas and Arthur Meyerson and in these photos I think I was able to express a little bit of what moves me about their vision.
Since the photos of the slideshow were taken in Japan I drank tea instead of wine. The cup was designed by the Japanese-American designer Isamu Noguchi. The tea itself, however, was Chinese Pouchong tea. I love that tea and have been drinking it since I discovered it at Ten Tea in San Francisco’s Chinatown around 1992, or so.
I hope you enjoyed the evening. There will be another performance on Tuesday morning at 11:30am, Santa Fe time, and then I will take a break from live-streaming. I will be back, but I don’t want to set a date for it. Maybe it’ll become more of a surprise thing… just some morning or afternoon or evening that I feel like playing on Twitch. If you follow me on Twitch they will inform you when I start streaming.
I don’t think about time. You’re here when you’re here.
I think about today, staying in tune.
— John Lee Hooker
I remember seeing Mr. Hooker when we performed on the Tonight Show, around 1994 or so, where he was a guest as well. The most Zen-like quote uttered by a musician?
This is something I wrote circa 1993 – link. I believe it was published in Musician Magazin around that time.
Instrumental Music is to vocal song what a book is to the movie. Reading is active. When you read the book your imagination fleshes out the story. You imagine the scenery, you imagine the persons talking, imagine how they look and move. Movies are passive. When you go to a movie, you sit and watch. A better movie will move your mind, will challenge your perception, but your mind is not as active as it would be while reading a book.
In a song a hero or heroine will tell their story. They will tell U how they feel. They R the center of attention. The lyrics, the singing rule the listener. The listener is passive. Instrumental music works differently. The listener becomes the center of attention, rather than the singer. Instrumental music works on our intuitive mind whereas vocals/lyrics seem to push us into the intellectual mind. Instrumental music can be ignored easier than vocal music. In order to get the picture from instrumental music, the listener has to invest something, has to let the music resonate within him, has to flesh out the mood the music portrays, just as a reader has to fill the words with life. W/o that imagination a book is just words and the music is just notes.
Some of you will point out that a book has words too. Yeah, so it’s not a perfect analogy. However I am trying to compare the active process of reading with the passive process of watching. Secondly I admit there are lyricists who are more abstract and less literal than others, but even the most abstract lyrics pull us out of the music. Techno is mostly instrumental because lyrics get in the way of trance. The mere sound of language changes the way we listen.
Instrumental music works on several different levels: as background music to work by, to think by – or as foreground music when the listener tries to relive the artist’s emotions or intentions. There is an attention that songs demand, that makes them coarse. By that I mean that vocals always catch our attention. The voice of another human being happy or in distress. It doesn’t work very subtly – just as in a movie a lot of the subtleties of the book are lost. If the mind is a pool of water, instrumental music will sink + vocal music will float. Instrumental music will rain on the brain, can fall through the cracks. Non-verbal communication. It reaches the listener directly. Sub-consciousness to sub-consciousness. Like the Zen painter who creates his work in seconds on very thin paper – so thin that it might break under the weight of the brush if he hesitates or thinks for a moment. Ideally music works the same way, and every musician would probably agree with me that for us the biggest high is when a group of musos spontaneously performs something they have never played before. The mystical experience. My soul is my antenna, I am the instrument + the guitar is my amplifier.
Miso soup was the first soup I enjoyed. No matter which soup my mom made, I never loved it. Pea soup with hambone, lentil soup with onions, minestrone, chicken-noodle soup, white bean soup with greens… my dad would rub his hands in anticipation when a soup was carried to the table. He truly loved them all, and I only ate them because I had to.
The very first time I had miso soup I loved it. Such clean flavor, so few ingredients, light, meatless. I was a vegetarian when I first tasted miso soup, maybe that had something to do with it. No, perhaps not.
I rarely ever ate in a Japanese restaurant without having miso soup first. That’s another thing about Japanese cooking. Great portions… what I mean by that is, the portions are never too large… unlike in German restaurants or even more so in American restaurants, Japanese places seem to offer plates that leave me feeling great.
I would love to do a miso journey through Japan… to find out how soybeans become a paste, how they are fermented and how they turn into miso. Perhaps I could walk from one place to the next. In my mind miso is created by artisans, but that could be a very false and overly romantic notion. I imagine wooden vats, which contain a potent smelling brew of fermenting soy, inside a wooden shed. I imagine men with white headbands who are using huge wooden implements to turn the soy over. I might even imagine the soundtrack that accompanies these actions – a mix of koto, the Japanese zither, with synthesizers…. like a Ryuichi Sakamoto soundtrack.
I am walking through the store. In my cart are green onions and two packages of tofu. I stand in front of the refrigerator that holds containers of miso and am trying to decide… red miso, white miso, mellow miso… I might boil some udon to go into the soup. That’s is not traditional, but it will taste good.
(I found this little piece from 2018 in a folder this afternoon)