A solitary walk …
It appears today, that the only thing certain is the uncertainty of the following day. But even so, in this time of a huge void in our social interactions, the accompanying ennui, anxiety and various other psychosomatic effects that seem to have surfaced, it got me thinking about hope and optimism towards imagining better times ahead.
If the dismal employment scenario is any indication, it augurs that the lack of a living wage for some, renders stark the altogether tenuous link between human industriousness and the certitude of recompense; no denying the gravity therefore of this depressive and recessive situation. Perhaps then, it is the malleability of the intellect that we can now turn to.
Can our minds not be subject to the machinations of the will to attain an optimistic faith in the future? It is wise to prepare for the worst, one could reason within stricture, but is it not a leap of faith to expect the best? And it wouldn’t be a false premise, for what is the fountainhead of optimism, if nothing more than one’s ability to manifest the divine brightness, positivism and love through an openness to change and to embracing an unknown future. In an effort to aid this, I like to seek kinship with those that celebrate life through music when I am out walking in nature. It suffuses one’s existence with good cheer and restores faith in humanity.
I chose the solitary walk this Sunday. Although I love walking with my beloved husband, I realized, my incessant chattering takes to leaps and bounds, so much so that my feet cannot quite keep up. And again, I do enjoy the lone walk. It is an occasion for thought to have free rein, the time to breathe the air of spring, have my eyes dart to the flight of swallows and sparrows, listen to the most salubrious sounds of music in step to rhythms of foreign lands and the voices of kindred souls far away.
It is divinely beautiful; the spring flowers have cascaded through April until now, in various permutations and combinations of hues, petals and floral genera of magnolias, cherry blossoms, sour apple blossoms to the now variously coloured rhododendrons. Everywhere I look there is texture in bark and newly expressed leaf blade. The grass glows green, the phlox and tulips appear to punctuate my walk this afternoon.
There are very few people on the path, everyone is indoors, perhaps having lunch with their families and this was therefore the best time, except for a few other souls I encountered who clearly had the same thoughts as I and I had to immediately pull up my ‘neck gaiter’ since the understanding is now implicit that we will all cover our faces in our neighbourhood. But the smiles are not lost on me for they cannot quite stay hidden in the twinkle of the eye or hands raised in salutation. It is strange times like these and I discover I have rather nice neighbours.
The music of Mathias Duplessy …
I walk to the sound of strings, to the music of Mathias Duplessy. As a multi-instrumentalist and French composer, who also does Mongolian undertone singing and plays the Morin Khuur, Duplessy took his idea of transcultural musical exchange further and created ‘The Violins of the World’. The musical journey grew with the shared interest of three other virtuoso musicians Guo Gan, known worldwide as the Master of Chinese Erhu, Aliocha Regnard who plays the nyckelharpa, a traditional Swedish string-instrument or chordophone that looks a bit like the Fiddle and Enkjargal Dandarvaanchig, who also plays the Morin Khuur and lends his deep voice.
In their album Crazy Horse, in the tracks ‘Petard Chinois‘ and ‘Chinese Dumplings’, Guo Gan makes the Erhu speak in tongues, it is nothing if not a path to hope. For those that love the sound of strings, you have to take the time to watch these maestros make their instruments speak to the heart. In their newest album, Brothers of String, released in January this year, the ‘Texas Bolero’ is redemptive music if there is such a thing and surely there is. Mark Knopfler’s ‘Brothers in Arms‘ and a favourite, Ennio Morricone’s ‘The good, the bad and the ugly‘ are infused with exotic instrumentation and voice. In the track Bysalgal, Mathias and Epi lend evocative Mongolian Overtone to the lyrics that transport you in time and space to places far yonder.
Matthias Duplessy from Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
Mongolia boasts of many variants of Overtone singing also known as Tuvan throat singing, Khoomei, Hooliin Chor (in Mongolian, ‘harmony of the throat’). In Mongolian throat singing, the performer (in earlier times, herders practised this art) produces a fundamental pitch and simultaneously, one or more pitches over that. The Mongolian folk religion is animistic and tries to identify through shape, location and sound the spirituality of objects in nature. Thus, human voice tries to mimic the sound of nature, the animals, birds, wind and water through harmonic sounds. This is a philosophy best understood by partaking of this music while walking a nature trail.
My walk soon took the course of the ever expanding playlist. It was Sunday after all and the hugely busy week had lulled me into a stupor. So it was a reward, to walk a solitary path populated only by the plenitude of birds and squirrels chasing each of their kind, to the trot of the Crazy Horse , which is truly redemptive music as one Duplessy fan expressed online, the type of music that leaves your heart unbound he said, from self destructive thoughts as it steers you to embrace life. Look therefore to these amazing violinists for an extra shot of optimism in these strange times.
Photo from the Mathias Duplessy Channel on Youtube
“Crazy Horse“composed by Enkhjargal Dandarvaanchig & Mathias Duplessy
Erhu: Guo Gan
Morinkhuur :Enkhjargal Dandarvaanchig
Guitar :Mathias Duplessy