I thank you for the smallest sound…I thank you, light, again…To know that I am here.

 

David Whyte’s “Blessing” poems are interpreted through a visual journey across the Irish landscape in this short film by Emmy-winning filmmaker Andrew Hinton. Musician and composer Owen Ó Súilleabháin, who has collaborated with David Whyte for over a decade, offers a reflection on the music that inspired the creation of this short film. (via Gratefulness.org)

BLESSING FOR SOUND
from The Bell and the Blackbird by David Whyte

I thank you,
for the smallest sound,
for the way my ears open
even before my eyes,
as if to remember
the way everything began
with an original, vibrant, note,
and I thank you for this
everyday original music,
always being rehearsed,
always being played,
always being remembered
as something new
and arriving, a tram line
below in the city street,
gull cries, or a ship’s horn
in the distant harbour,
so that in waking I hear voices
even where there is no voice
and invitations where
there is no invitation
so that I can wake with you
by the ocean, in summer
or in the deepest seemingly
quietest winter,
and be with you
so that I can hear you
even with my eyes closed,
even with my heart closed,
even before I fully wake.

BLESSING FOR THE LIGHT
from The Bell and the Blackbird by David Whyte

I thank you, light, again,
for helping me to find
the outline of my daughter’s face,
I thank you light,
for the subtle way
your merest touch gives shape
to such things I could
only learn to love
through your delicate instruction,
and I thank you, this morning
waking again,
most intimately and secretly
for your visible invisibility,
the way you make me look
at the face of the world
so that everything becomes
an eye to everything else
and so that strangely,
I also see myself being seen,
so that I can be born again
in that sight, so that
I can have this one other way
along with every other way,
to know that I am here.


Thank you Lori for sharing. Moved.

I’m going to remember this.

It all started with Thursday’s post, Lightly Child, Lightly. Where Cole Arthur Riley writes: “Have you ever stood in the presence of a tree and listened to the wind pass through its leaves? The roots and body stand defiant and unmoved. But listen. The branches stretch out their tongues and whisper shhhhh. Trees make symphonies without their trunks ever moving, almost as if the stillness of their centers amplifies their sound.” 

This post triggered a number of comments.

Beth, a school teacher, teaches me what that sound is: “I so love it too and there is a word for it: psithurism. These sounds of wind in the trees and the rustling of leaves have enchanted so many people over time that they invented a word to describe them: psithurism. Like many words that begin with “ps,” the “p” at the beginning of psithurism is silent, and the word is pronounced sith-err-iz-um.

Lori, follows by sharing: “I, too, am mesmerized by this sound (and now know what to call it…thank you, Beth!) This passage brought to mind Suzanne Simard’s book, ‘Finding the Mother Tree.’ So much happening below the surface

Mimi then shares: “The symphony of sound from the trees, sounds that change with the type of leaf that is singing – another gift from Mother Nature. The differences can be subtle, and demand your attention if you’re fortunate enough to stop and listen. Beth taught us both something today – never heard of the word, and I love the way it sounds – its pronunciation is perfect for its definition!”

Caitlin, here next door in NY State, furthers my education.  “My favorite sound — wind through pine trees — happy memories of Northern Ontario summer camp…The verb for the sound is soughing.”  I had to google it. A Verb: soughing (of the wind in trees, the sea, etc.) make a moaning, whistling, or rushing sound. ‘the soughing of the wind in the canopy of branches’.

Kevin, in Concord, CA, “likes sitting under an overhang and listening to rain (and wind) hitting the various leaves in my back garden. We also have a hammock for sitting between trees and watching the leaves rustle in the wind.”

Doug’s favorite soothing sound “is the sound of water in a stream burbling over rocks” and he wonders “if there is a specific word for that sound, too.”

Anneli has “stood under black cottonwoods in Montana and made a little video of the leaves whispering very loudly as the wind passed through the trees. A memorable experience.

Dale, once again, dropping 10-letter words requiring me to wear a dictionary on my hip to decipher: “I often stand amongst the trees and love the sound. Psithurism from marcescent leaves, particularly. Those leaves, usually oak, that remain on the trees in the winter have a particular sound.”

And for me, I’m with all of you.  Wind through the trees, branches, leaves. Listening to rain. Sitting in hammocks. Stream burbling over rocks.

And yet, there’s one other sound of notable mention. [Read more…]

Sunday Morning

On Aug. 29, 1952, in an open-air converted barn in Woodstock, N.Y., pianist David Tudor, known for his interpretations of contemporary music, gave the premiere of a work by John Cage (1912-1992) remarkably different from anything else in the classical repertoire. Tudor had been familiar with the full range of the avant-garde, from the spacious pointillism of Morton Feldman’s “Extensions 3” to the thorny complexity of Pierre Boulez’s First Piano Sonata, both of which were also on the program.

For the Cage piece, however, the pianist curiously sat motionless at the keyboard, holding a stopwatch. The composer had indicated three separate movements with specific timings. Keeping an eye on the timepiece, Tudor announced the beginning of each section by closing the keyboard lid, then paused for the required duration before signaling its end by opening the lid again. All the rest was stillness; throughout the performance he didn’t make a sound.

But Cage’s “4’33”” is actually not about silence at all. Though most members of the audience were focused on the absence of music, there were also ambient vibrations they ignored: wind stirring outside, raindrops pattering on the tin roof—and, toward the end of the performance, the listeners themselves making “all kinds of interesting sounds as they talked or walked out. Music is continuous,” the composer explained. “It is only we who turn away.”

Stuart Isacoff, from “The Sounds of Silence” (Wall Street Journal, November 5, 2021)


Notes:

Ditch them. You just might hear the world calling your name.

 

I hereby dub them Generation Deaf and Blind.

 I’ve always been vaguely offended by people who walk around wearing headphones, and I only recently realized why. Both my parents were profoundly deaf. I grew up watching them struggle to communicate with others, often misunderstanding and, in turn, finding themselves misunderstood.

So I never took hearing for granted. More than once as a boy, I pressed my hands over my ears, trying to simulate the experience of deafness. Other times I pretended to be Superman, equipped with superhearing to function as a surrogate for my parents.

Why would anyone deliberately tune out sound from the world around us? Granted, music makes us happy. Headphones give us control over what we hear, as well as when and where. They insulate our ears from the din of jackhammers, car horns and the noise of daily life.

The trend toward wearing earpieces in public is unmistakable. Apple has sold more than 300 million iPods since its introduction in 2001. A 2014 survey found that the average millennial wore headphones for nearly four hours a day, and 53% of them owned three or more pairs.

But pedestrians who tune out the sounds around them are taking a real risk. The number of people in the U.S. seriously injured or killed while walking in public and wearing headphones tripled between 2004 and 2011, according to one study. In 29% of those accidents, a warning—such as a horn, siren or shout—evidently went unheard.

People are free to impose such sensory deprivation on themselves. If, in commuting to and from your job, you prefer to listen to music or a podcast than to hear birds warbling or the wind rustling the leaves or an infant giggling as a puppy licks her face—or for that matter, a speeding ambulance honking at you to step aside—be my guest.

Even so, consider the alternative. Ditch the earpieces once in a while, if only as a change of pace. Listen to the sounds around you, a luxury that eludes more than a million deaf Americans. You just might hear the world calling your name.

~ Bob Brody, from “The Case Against Deliberate Deafness. Constant use of headphones creates hazards and muffles the music of daily life.” (wsj.com, Feb 8, 2018)


Photo by ShannonVanB

Oh, that is absolutely gorgeous, grass wind and pine wind.

Sometimes you trip into something, something that is so big, and so right (this Sunday morning), that you don’t want to soil it by sharing a few excerpts. (But I’m going to do it anyway, of course.) I urge you to listen to Krista Tippett’s entire 51 minute interview with Gordon Hempton where the conversation is sprinkled with Hempton’s nature recordings. Hempton is an acoustic ecologist, a collector of sound all over the world. You can find the entire transcript and audio recording here: “Silence and the Presence of Everything.” I’ve shared a few passages below:

________

“OK. So I get out of my car, all right? We’ll still hear the pinging of its engine. We’ll hear other cars and other visitors, and we’ll hear the “beep-beep” of our modern world as people are locking their cars and the rustling of our artificial fabrics against our bodies. Some people will be chattering away on cell phones. But then the sound of my backpack goes over my shoulders, and we head off down the trail. And no more than 100 yards along these tall, tree-lined, ferned path with moss drapes that add sound-deadening to the experience, we’ll hear the call-off twitter of a Winter Wren, this very high-pitched twittering sound that might be coming from 100 feet away…And then we’ll hear further away the sound of the Hoh River that drains the Rain Forest echoing off the far side of the valley…And if we were taking this hike in the fall, we would hear the bugling of the Roosevelt elk… Up close, it’s actually quite a guttural, adrenalin-filled assertion of what it means to be male and wild. But when you hear this experience from a couple of miles away, isn’t that amazing? When you’re in a quiet place, your listening horizon extends for miles in every direction. When you hear an elk call from miles away, it turns into a magic flute as the result of traveling through this place that has the same acoustics as a cathedral. […]

Yeah. Oh, grass wind. Oh, that is absolutely gorgeous, grass wind and pine wind. We can go back to the writing of John Muir, which he turned me on to the fact that the tone, the pitch, of the wind is a function of the length of the needle or the blade of grass. So the shorter the needle on the pine, the higher the pitch; the longer, the lower the pitch. There are all kinds of things like that, but the two folders where I collected, I have, oh, over 100 different recordings which are actually silent from places, and you cannot discern a sense of space, but you can discern a sense of tonal quality, that there is a fundamental frequency for each habitat. […]

But I found the sound that I enjoyed most was the sound of the silence in the volcano. The measurement of decibels actually goes into the minus point, but there still is a sense of presence, of where you are. Then once you get over the rim of the volcano, you begin to pick up what I call the mantra of the islands, and that’s the distant beating of that drum called the Pacific Ocean. […]

We’re about to enter into a giant driftwood log. It’s a Sitka spruce log, the same material that’s used in the crafting of violins, and it has a special property where that, when the wood fibers are excited by acoustic energy — in this case, it’s the sound of the ocean itself — that the fibers actually vibrate. And inside, we get to listen to nature’s largest violin. […] [Read more…]

Sit down. Shut up. Pay attention. Repeat, hundreds of times over.

I found that trees are full of sound. Wind reveals the architecture of branches and leaves, and every tree has its own wind sound, emerging from the particularities of its physiology. For example, the Ponderosa pine trees in Colorado sound different from the same species in California. Each has needles adapted to the local environment, so each sounds different when the wind blows. Broad-leaves trees are likewise diverse in their voices. City trees have rumbles of buses and trains running through them, changing the form of their wood. Birds sing from branches and insects gnaw on inner wood. Then there are tree sounds that are too high for our ears, but by listening with sensitive microphones I heard water pulsing through branches and ultrasonic clicks of distress in drought-stricken twigs. These sounds combined with the voices of market vendors working in the trees’ shade, birds singing amid traffic noise, and surf sucking at palm roots on an eroding beach. Sound is a great way into tree lives: it passes around and through solid barriers, revealing what our eyes cannot see.

~ David George Haskell, in an interview by Caspar Henderson titled: David George Haskell recommends the best books on Trees (fivebooks.com, July 13, 2017)


Notes:

  • Other notable statements in this interview by David George Haskell: “Smelling the soil, talking to other people, holding an acorn in your hand, coming to know the sounds of birds and trees: these have great power once we wake to them, partly because they are such multi-sensory activities, engaging mind and emotion… (Yet) Our modern dependence on trees is mostly hidden from our senses. We don’t hear the rain passing through forest canopies on its way to the reservoir. We don’t smell the wood pellets and coal chunks that power our computers and homes. The wood that frames our houses, holds up our furniture, and gives us paper arrives with signs of its ecological history purged. So we imagine that we’ve transcended our ancestors’ close relationship with trees. But this is illusion. There is no good future for Homo sapiens without forests. Yet forests are in crisis. We live in an age of great diminishment. In just the first dozen years of this millennium, 2.3 million square kilometres of forest were lost – cut, burned, drowned, desertified – yet only 0.8 million regrew or were replanted.
  • Photo: François Vigneron with Four in a Square (via Newthom)

 

Monday Morning Wake-up Call

drums

I hear a sound, reverberating, like a drum with poor memory.
A thing that the wind thumps again and again
against some other object the earth is holding tight…
The sound of a slow heart heard through a stethoscope.

— Tomas Tranströmer, from “Start of a Late Autumn Novel,” The Half-Finished Heaven


Notes: Poem Source – Hidden Sanctuary. Photo – Precious Things

Sound


Saturday morning work-out inspiration. Don’t quit on this too soon. Love the screech of the Hawk.

A ‘Good Morning’ you can actually feel vibrating in your chest

My favorite sound is the gentle rumble of an elephant greeting. It’s a very low “brrrmmmbrrrmmm.” A large component of that rumble is infrasonic — below the range of human hearing. It carries quite far. And if an elephant is close to you, you can actually feel it vibrating in your chest. It’s just the most relaxing, gentle and friendly sound.

Cynthia Moss, a wildlife researcher and conservationist who has spent more than 40 years living with and observing elephants in Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Botswana.


Notes:

  • Source: NY Times: Cynthia Moss
  • Note to Self: Some day, if we’re not careful, this sound and this incredible creature will be gone. And what a monumental loss to this planet it will be.

Saturday Susurrus

fall-autumn-leaves
  “susurrus [soo-suruhs]”

— (noun) As one of the most beautiful words in the English language, susurrusis defined as a soft, murmuring sound. It resembles the rustling symphony of the fallen leaves moving across the pavement or the whispers created by the branches of the trees on a windy, autumn day. Uttering susurrus also simulates the acoustics of nature’s effect; this is one of those rare words where its aesthetic, sound and feel coincide beautifully.


Credits: Photograph: Béatrice Lechtanski via Art Propelled. Quote: Thank you Rudy @ Et in Arcadia Ego*

What does it mean?

White on White

It was in June. Circa 1995. A sticky late afternoon. I jump in a Yellow Cab to visit a client’s home to inspect Fine Art collateral. The cab pulls up to his building. A massive, black granite stone polished to a high sheen. Money.

I offer the doorman my name and the purpose for my visit. He reaches for the phone to confirm. Sir, I’ll escort you up.

The Doorman holds the door as I enter the elevator. Hat. Uniform. White gloves. He presses the button. Penthouse. 

Hi. Good to see you again. Would you like me to show you around our place?

I graciously accept. My feet are damp in my wing tips; they clop on the white Italian marble floor. The echo ricochets off the vaulted ceiling, off the contemporary furniture with its sharp lines, and off the floor-to-ceiling windows. I look out over the city – – a spectacular view – – and then look down below.  I note that my hands are trembling. Take a deep breath. It’s acrophobia. Step back and away. 

Would you like something to drink?

I thank him and pass. I can’t have anything near my stomach now. I’m nauseous. Stomach is churning. I’m breathing rarified air. I don’t belong here.

The air conditioning, noiseless, offers a cooling feathery touch. I shiver. Fine Art and humidity are not friends. The temperature, constant and cool, preserves.

Here’s what you came to see.

[Read more…]

The Sound of Taste


What does flavour look like? How does it sound? These are the questions that inspired herb and spice experts, Schwartz, to create what they describe as a ‘Sonic Flavourscape’. Several tons of black peppercorns, cardamom, turmeric, paprika, cumin seeds, ginger, chilli and coriander were rigged to explode in perfect sync with a bespoke musical composition. Each explosion represents an individual piano note or chord, which when filmed at high speed, creates a surreal three dimensional sound scape.”


Light and sound poured in

Vonnegut
To the as-yet unborn,
to all innocent wisps of undifferentiated nothingness:
Watch out for life.
I have caught life.
I have come down with life.
I was a wisp of undifferentiated nothingness,
and then a little peephole opened quite suddenly.
Light and sound poured in.
Voices began to describe me and my surroundings.
Nothing they said could be appealed.
They never shut up.

– Kurt Vonnegut


Image Source: ike. Poem: Thank you WhiskeyRiver

Sounds

One minute of audio sensory stimulation.  Sounds.  A blessing that we can hear all of them.  Darren Aronofsky is a film director, screenwriter and film producer.


Sounds of Aronofsky from kogonada on Vimeo.


Source: Explore

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