Music and the Heart

How Music Can Literally Heal the Heart.

Its structural attributes and physiological effects make it an ideal tool for learning cardiology; studying heart-brain interactions; and dispensing neuro-cardiac therapy

And this:

The reason these heart-music mappings work is because abnormal heart rhythms tend to form simple inter-beat-interval ratios. In fact, the distinctive rhythms in Beethoven’s music so closely resemble those of heart rhythm disorders that cardiologists have speculated that they may be transcriptions of Beethoven’s possible arrhythmia, his interoceptive awareness of his own heartbeat enhanced by his deafness.

Lemons >>> make lemonade. Arrhythmia of the heart >>> compose great music.
There is something important hiding in this. Our very shortcomings, our problems, our flaws, can help us reach for something amazing.

From Scientific American

Nature Boy

On The Ethan Hein Blog I found a nice list of recordings of Nature Boy.

There was a boy, a very strange enchanted boy. His name was eden ahbez, he was a hippie decades before that was a common thing to be, and he wrote “Nature Boy“, which Nat King Cole turned into a major hit. The tune has become a jazz and pop standard, and has been recorded uncountably many times.

I am listening to the version David Bowie recorded with Massive Attack, which I hadn’t heard before. It’s apparently from the movie Moulin Rouge.

My favorite version of Nature Boy isn’t on the list, however. It’s from the 1999 album Fascinoma by Jon Hassell. This version begins with solo trumpet – the softest trumpet sound you will ever hear – and then Rono Majumdar joins the trumpet with his bamboo flute. Check out the album Hollow Bamboo by Rono Majumdar, from 2000, as it is also excellent.

I remember talking to my friend CR about the song and she had a great story about meeting eden ahbez, the Nature Boy of the song. I’ll ask her about that.

This and That

Saw the following tweet by Ethan Hein

Your periodic reminder that Yusef Lateef recorded himself blowing over a record from the 1930s and put it on one of his albums, a breathtakingly fresh idea and one that I would love more jazz musicians to try

Link to song on YouTube

I just listened to this piece that was relesed in 1976. Very cool. I looked up copyright rules and learned that until 1978 music copyright was 28 years with an option to renew for another 28 years. The option had to be picked up in the 28th year of the original copyright term. The copyright holder could have easily missed the deadline or lost interest, so the copyright of the original music Yusef Lateef played over likely had expired.

When you just want to play your guitar but your Dad is that dude from Pink Floyd!

Found here.

Very funny. Lemme show you the E-chord, son!

I’ll end with this tweet. I love the comment: I ordered beer, so why did they bring me beer?

Consciousness + Breadfruit

Yesterday my RSS reader delivered a post called Thoughts on Reincarnation to me which prompted me to look up my own post called Memory Leaks from 2006 – by the way, the search function of the Diary works quite well and I use it often.

Both posts consider experiences that are sometimes explained with the concept of rebirth or reincarnation and how they might occur without it. After all, the concept of reincarnation is probably 3,000 years old and perhaps we can think of new ways to approach these experiences.

I wrote about “crossed wires” and “leaky memory” and the other post, very sensibly, points to DNA. Both posts start with the premise that everything is not only connected but one. Follow that with this thought about the universe:
Physicist: The Entire Universe Might Be a Neural Network.

On a different note, yesterday I ate breadfruit for the first time, roasted on a small fire. I found that it does indeed taste like sweet and doughy bread. Also reminded me a little bit of stealing a bite of raw dough from the kitchen table when I was little. I really liked it. I learned that the British brought Breadfruit from Polynesia to the Caribbean to feed slaves. Next I want to try breadfruit chips and breadfruit curry.


I am intrigued by the sense that culture itself has a wild edge. As Claude Levi-Strauss remarked years ago, the arts are the wilderness areas of the imagination surviving, like national parks, in the midst of civilized minds.

This is a quote, tweeted by a Gary Snyder Quotes Account, from the book The Practice of the Wild by Gary Snyder, published in 1990.

Wilderness of nature and wilderness of culture. Wilderness outside and wilderness inside. I believe we need both to flourish. Some people are uncomfortable with wilderness of nature or of culture, but they also reap the rewards of it. One example of that is the amount of medicine found in the wild corners of the shrinking Amazon forest. In terms of music think of how much bass playing was changed by the wild Jaco Pastorius or guitar playing by Jimi Hendrix. When they first exploded onto the scene there may have been many who didn’t like it, but now there is hardly a bassist or guitarist who was not influenced by them.

I think this dovetails nicely with my old Spinning circles image of culture.

In the fringe is where everything exciting happens, never in the center. Cultures are like spinning circles. In the center they don’t move very much, that’s where the traditionalists live, the conservatives. Towards the rim is where the action is, that’s where the artists hang out. Life is a little more out of balance there sometimes and the spinning can make you dizzy there. What is most exciting is that many of the culture circles overlap and if you can stay in a spot where several things overlap you can find new clouds of ideas. Ideas are not bound to any individual, there are bound to a time. Many people in that spot will come up with similar ideas. Sometimes this cloud of ideas forms a new circle and the center of it hardens and becomes a new tradition. The longer it can remain liquid the more alive it will remain. Life is change.

Rant #5

Hidden Imagery

Colossal has a post about the hidden image discovered in a restored Vermeer painting. It got me thinking about hidden art and an artist’s intention. It is cool if an artist hides an image inside his/her work, to be discovered eventually – or not. It could be a political statement, for example a portrait of a powerful monarch with an underpainting of some of their greatest failings, or a portrait of a smiling person with the hidden words “they never looked that happy in real life but I was paid well to make them look this way”.

In this case, however, that is not the case. Colossal writes that:

…it was assumed that Vermeer had altered the piece himself. Only after they performed a series of infrared reflectography imagings, microscopic analyses, and X-ray fluorescence examinations in 2017 did they realize that the Cupid was covered decades after the painter’s death, even though they still aren’t sure who marred the original piece or when.

What was the reason for this cover up? Did a new owner of the painting object to the nudity of the cupid? We may never know. What a story though!!

(((click on the image to see a larger version)))


Photography seemed to me, as I stood there in the white gallery with its rows of pictures and its press of murmuring spectators, an uncanny art like no other. One moment, in all of history, was captured, but the moments before and after it disappeared into the onrush of time; only that selected moment itself was privileged, saved, for no other reason that its having been picked out by the camera’s eye.

from Open City by Teju Cole

That quote was preceded by the description of this photo (I found the image here) from 1930, by Martin Munkacsi, and the statement that Henri Cartier-Bresson had developed the ideal of the decisive moment from seeing that image.

That is a beautiful statement and certainly true for any photograph involving some kind of movement, especially by people or animals. Perhaps I prefer landscape photography for the very reason that it can have a more timeless quality. I do like to take photographs that don’t look like anything would happen before or after the image was taken. Such a landscape photograph has a different quality, absent of the onrush of time, absent of the obvious decisive moment.

I imagine everyone has had the experience of walking in the woods or across a vast field or beach, and thinking that, because of the absence of anything that could date what we saw, time might suddenly change and thus, when we returned from that scene, we would find ourselves in a different time period. In the past or perhaps in the future. I remember thinking that when I was a kid and, truth be told, the thought has also occurred to me many times as an adult.

(((Last night I watched the excellent film Faces Places, on Kanopy of course, and Agnes Varda and JR traveled to the small graveyard where Cartier-Bresson was buried. Always interesting when a name comes up more than once within a day.)))

PS: My preference of landscapes photography does not mean I don’t love Muncascsi or Cartier-Bresson. In fact I think their work is awesome. It’s just not something I can do or am drawn to.


Do you know about Kanopy? If you are a member of a public library it is possible that you can access a lot of great movies on Kanopy – for free. The Santa Fe Public Library enables me to watch five movies per month and it’s indeed a very nice collection of films. If you are interested in international or indie movies you might find that Kanopy has more of them than the usual streaming services you have to pay for.

Just last week I watched My Old Lady (Maggie Smith, Kristin Scott Thomas, Kevin Kline) and Found Memories. I enjoyed both movies a lot. The former reminded me of a stage play – and when I checked it was indeed written and directed by a playwright – and the latter was a beautiful Brazilian movie about a secluded village of elderly people into which a young photographer enters. The film features some of the beautiful photos the photographer takes with some kind of portable camera obscura. Madalena, one of the villagers, teaches the photographer how to make the daily bread for the village by the light of an oil lamp. Photography and bread! It was like the movie was made for me. No guitar though…

Social Media + Photography

My two-week trial period of Glass ends tomorrow. I don’t think I will continue with it. I couldn’t tell you why, exactly. I just don’t love it. Glass seems nice to look at and safe to use, but I am not clicking with it. There is no search for subjects or a way to tag a photo. Most people display the EXIF code of their images. That data will be useful to some people, but it never interested me. I don’t care what kind of camera somebody uses or which lens and settings. So, I started thinking about WHAT would make a social media app great, especially one that’s enables media sharing – mainly photography but also text, video, gif, and audio.

There are only two ways to make such a site work: one can mine data and sell ads (the ad agencies are the customers) OR the user has to pay for a subscription (the users are the customer). Could there be a third option? Could the case be made that like the postal service there should be a national social media service? Funding could come from “simple ads” – meaning ads that don’t rely on mining personal information – like old fashioned TV ads that were the same for everyone. That might bring in enough money to fund the service since there would not be shareholders and CEOs who would expect billions in annual revenue.

Once the funding is figured out (one of the above three options or can you think of a fourth?) what do we want the service to look like? Feel free to say like Twitter, but… or like Instagram, but…

How should one allow people to freely express themselves WITHOUT at the same time enabling entities to create bots to influence minds? Should there be a way to make anonymous posts? How?

PS: I am not going back to Zuck’s Instagram. No way. I can share text and images on this website right here, especially after some renovations. :-)

Trip Report

I just listened to this podcast and really enjoyed it. Michael Pollan was interviewed by Kara Swisher for Sway. About 40′.

I remember reading Ken Follett’s “The Pillars of the Earth” and wondering about the protagonist and his young son both drinking ale for breakfast and throughout the day. I did a little searching and discovered that ale or beer was simply safer to drink than most water sources and imagined that people likely had a small buzz on all day, every day. I wondered how many men fell to their death while building cathedrals because they had one cup to many.

No wonder then that the arrival in Europe of coffee, tea, and chocolate in the 17th century brought about so many changes. Voltaire supposedly drank more than forty cups a day. Weak coffee? Tiny cups?