Friday 21 November 2014

A Musical Month

Whenever I sit down to write these Musical Notes, I think to myself, what on earth am I going to write about this time? A minute later and I've realised how much there is to say about what's been going on in my local, Newent, musical life and it becomes more a case of how to cut this information down to manageable proportions. It's been said before - there is something in Newent's air that makes it a focal point for music making.

Last night I took part in the Newent Community School concert in Gloucester Cathedral with hundreds of people, children and adults either performing or listening in the audience. Listening and performing are dependent on musical education, whether a formal process, or simply 'self-taught' and the successful results of all those ingredients were there in full view. It's the fact of relationships, of a coming-together, between the many facets of making music that brings it all to life.

This month I was introduced to a project applying itself to relationships in music making that could well have a significant influence on local music and beyond. 'Soundscape', the brain child of David Sass, has the aim, like our orchestra, of promoting music, encouraging musical participation, education and relationships between musicians and the public. Unlike the orchestra, it is coming from the direction of rock and popular culture rather than classical. This I like. There is much potential for mutual support and some interesting projects that could involve our players. Time will tell, but watch this space.

Our Music Appreciation Group (NOMAG) meets again shortly and, thinking above about popular culture, there is something that bothers several of its members that I hope to help with. This is the relationship of digital technology and listening to classical music. For anyone not at home with a tablet, laptop or smartphone, the words 'streaming', 'podcast' and 'download' can be pretty alien creatures. Streaming, for example, and 'the cloud' have confusing visual associations with rivers and the sky that are quite alarming. Come along to the next meeting for a simple clarification if you will.

Oh, yes, and just in case you were wondering about the picture at the beginning of this newsletter, it's a bit of that alarming but in this case beautiful technology: 'cymatics' is the art of making music visible; the picture is a typical cymatic image made from acoustic vibrations and is remarkably similar to the image of the 'mandala', a pictorial representation of psychological wholeness and healing. Mandalas were created in the religious art of many different cultures as inspiring objects for meditation. Happy musical meditating!