Music of Playce: There are rhythms everywhere - how did I come up with some of these ideas?

From the cycle of the seasons to the flow of spinal fluid in a vertebrate, from the patterns of buds on an elder stem to the gurgle of water down a plughole, from the rattling of reed stems to the drone of a petrol pump at a service station, there are rhythms and patterns everywhere.

As I see it it is up to us to see the musicality in the world around us.

For so long, here in England anyway, we have been educated that things are things, separate objects. A musical instrument makes music. A pianist plays music by interpreting a sheet of paper with marks on it.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

People make music with cups on tables, or tones by storing a crystal glass. A musician called Stephan Micus even plays plant pots and strokes granite blocks to make music. Cosmo Sheldrake is a contemporary musician who uses found natural sounds to compose music, who I have had the pleasure of working alongside at a couple of Art Of Mentoring Events - here is a fascinating glimpse into his world from BBC Sounds:

The world is sound

We have voices, heartbeats and hands so we can bring the world alive through musicality if we want to, in a way that is individual to us.

Through teaching didgeridoo, where there is no written music, I  looked to the world around me for clues as to how to help myself and then my students make, record, represent, express the music arising from them as we play the didgeridoo, (one of the oldest and most simple instruments in the world which goes by many other names such as Yidaki). 

I showed my students how I looked at objects around me and how I used patterns to represent the beats or pulses I was making as I played... how a cover leaf could be a count of three, how a row of 6 windows in the top of a school hall could inspire a 6 beat pattern, how I could 'play' the floor of the room by looking at the way the grain of wood on floor boards moved  and how I could subtly change the sound of the didgeridoo to match the movement...

I also found that by asking my students to find objects that represented the sounds they were making, and then placing them, the students could 'write' their own music. A sort of natural notation.

The more I played with these ideas, the more ideas came to me.

I could see a melody in a horizon or the margin of a leaf. We could make up rhythms and musical patterns depending on the landscape, plants and buildings around us. It was..

Music of 'playce'!

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