Archive for the ‘from the music room’ Category

redstart on the antenna
I haven’t posted any music here for a while, but this photo I took the other day instantly reminded me of one of my favourite songs…..

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Opera Paris


That most human of practices. Yes, I know birds sing and so on, but look at the place of music in human life.

Is there any other creature which creates and enjoys music as much as human beings? I don’t think so. Indeed, I think we tend to hear the music in Nature, or rather, that we turn the sounds we hear into music. We even talk about the music of the spheres, as a way of thinking about the structure of the cosmos.

Iain McGilchrist, in his wonderful The Master and His Emissary, discusses the theory that music preceded language and that rings true for me.

Music is as individual as we are. How easy we find it to recognise a particular singer, or guitarist for example? Or to recognise the work of a particular composer?

Music moves us. It can affect our mood, lifting us up, getting us going, slowing us down, calming us.

Music opens the floodgates of memory taking us back in an instant to a particular time of our lives, or to a particular event.

Music connects us. It connects us to individuals in our lives, both those still with us, and those who have passed on. Sharing the experience of a concert can create an intense feeling of solidarity and belonging with the others in the audience.

Music moves us physically too, affecting our heart rate, our breathing, the release of a cascade of hormones in our bodies which change our internal environment…..one of the ways in which music can heal.

Music can inspire us, stimulating our creativity or helping us to achieve certain goals.

These days it is so easy to create playlists, to gather together particular works of music which can influence us in certain ways. And we can share those playlists with others too.

So, here’s an idea. Why not make yourself some playlists? List some of the ways in which music affects YOU and then gather some particular examples together to make playlists for each of those ways. Then use those playlists where and whenever you desire. Experience for yourself just how music can re-enchant your life.

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How lucky am I? To live amongst the fields of gold?
fields of gold

(not barley, but vines, in my case!)


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According to a government report workers who retire early risk “boredom, loneliness and poverty“.

Well, that’s something to look forward to, huh? Strange report – probably part of a fear campaign to try and keep people in employment for longer. What are they suggesting, actually? It’s better to retire later? Or that if you are working, even on a minimum wage, zero hours contract in your 60s and 70s you will avoid “boredom, loneliness and poverty”?

I suspect this kind of thinking says more about how we live than it does about the respective benefits of employment and retirement.

Funnily enough, I just stumbled over this quote from Goethe –

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I’ll be continuing to do that once I start my early retirement next month! And much else besides. I’m anticipating that the post-employment years will include lots of discovery, creativity, personal development and fun.

Meantime, here’s a little music

and a little poetry

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

– from Mary Oliver’s The Summer Day


Here’s a fine picture

glorious seedhead


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Wonder is one of my most favourite verbs.

I like the French word émerveillement which captures the essence of wonder for me. I think this is a great way to approach Life.

There are two aspects of the verb wonder which really appeal to me.

The first is to wonder in the sense of curiosity…….as in “I wonder what this is?” Here’s an example – “Is this a rock, or a tree? I wonder how these markings formed on this rock?”


rock weathering

The second is to wonder with a sense of amazement……as in “Wow! look at the patterns of the rock and the patterns on the stream, and how similar they are!”

rock waves

sparkling water


I would like to propose that an attitude of wonder increases the quality of your life, whereas, an attitude of scepticism, or nihilism…..hmm….well you tell me if you find those attitudes life enhancing.

Just as a wee bonus today, here is a great song about wondering…..


And, another bonus (well, it is my birthday!)


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Spotted these tadpoles in a pond up near Aberfeldy yesterday. This shot of them captured only a small portion of the hundreds swimming around the edge of the pond.

What do you think about when you think of tadpoles?

I bet you don’t think what I do.

Here’s what happens when I see tadpoles. I hear a song in my head. “Share it” by Hatfield and the North.

Do you know that song? Do you know why I hear it when I see tadpoles? Well, when I was a teenager, my friends and I were great fans of bands like Soft Machine, Caravan, Camel, and Hatfield and the North. So when Hatfield and the North played the Student Union at Edinburgh University we went along. My friend Ian seemed to know all the words of their songs and sang along. At the end of the concert, Ian made for the front and asked Richard Sinclair, the singer a question. The question?

“I can make out all the words of ‘Share it’ apart from the first one. It’s “something is screaming in my ear” but what’s the something? Richard Sinclair leaned down from the stage and whispered one word into Ian’s ear. What was the word?


If you don’t know the song, here it is


Listen carefully to the very first word. You’ll see he wasn’t kidding! 

But do you know what amazes me most about tadpoles? Metamorphosis.

During metamorphosis, a tadpole loses it tail, grow legs, loses its gills and grows lungs, rewiring it’s nervous system and on and on…..the number of changes are astonishing. How does it do that? We know a little bit about some of what’s involved (hormonal changes and different responses in different tissues to the same hormones) but we absolutely don’t know how these these massive changes are co-ordinated. 

Amazing. Completely amazing

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When you’re looking for something to photograph, just looking out of your window, or looking up to the sky, gives you enough inspiration.
I just love the multi-layered effects here….looks like range after range of mountains disappearing into the distance.
What you can’t see here is that the clouds were all moving very fast. This particular view changed before my very eyes…..as the Japanese culture emphasises – transience increases the beauty

Actually, when I look at clouds, I often hear Joni Mitchell singing in my head! If you’ve got a few minutes watch these two videos.

Firstly, this is Joni singing Both Sides Now in 1970

The, here she is singing the same song in 2000

What a difference! I know Heraclitus said you can’t step in the same river twice, so maybe it’s obvious that you can’t sing the same song twice

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