IN SOUND THINKING: On Listening / We Are Music

by Keith Johnston 

I believe we are all born with gifts, talents and abilities.  On our journey, we engage in the great unifier, “music”, but the question is, are we listening to the ebb and flow of what this life is offering? Regardless of race, gender, culture or nationality, music is central to the human condition. We are sound personified, vibrating at specific frequencies that define who we are as living breathing instruments.

Music is all about listening, affecting and being affected, feeling and experiencing the power of orchestrated sound. Whether we are aware of it or not, we listen with all five senses and then some. At the heart of all music is listening. Whether we are playing music, or even unconsciously exposed, we are transformed by the sound in some way. It doesn’t matter how good of a musician we are as much as how well we listen and respond.

Life is all about making music. In our everyday activities, walking, talking, eating or dancing, we exercise the three elements of music; rhythm, melody and harmony. Take notice of how nature has its own orchestration with a plethora of instrumentation through all life forms. Even when listening to people speak—the tone, rhythm and melodies of their native language create a unique musical exchange, a conversation grounded in rituals that are foundational to their identity.

The power of listening is evident in the most remarkable displays of music; an African drummer’s ability to calculate a dancer’s next move in a split second, a jazz musician’s telepathy or the ability to spontaneously spit rhymes in complex rhythms and melodies is an example of this high science from the cosmos. If we are fearless enough to study, practice and observe we can reach new heights through the sound of music. This universal language is essential to our health and unifies people as nothing else can. It is also an effective way to enhance our academic facilities; math, science, literacy, etc.

Anything that breathes is music, shifting the atmosphere, making a statement or raising a question. Sound is the source of all life. As we venture on our personal path, interacting in various ways, we are making music. Our individual journey is orchestrated by choices, circumstance and relationships composing an original piece.

Music is sacred in whatever way each individual might define that term. So, as we create, let us strive to harmonize or at least find relevance in the dissonance in this improvisational jazzathon called life.

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Sound Thinking NYC: My Summer Intensive Reflection

by Jasmin Bota

This past summer, I became part of the Sound Thinking NYC family and it has completely changed the way I view the music industry. Joining Sound Thinking NYC with the majority of my music background coming from choral environments, was definitely daunting at first due to the fact that I knew this program would be heavily technology based. Up until Sound Thinking NYC, I had no clue what ProTools was or how to use it. I had never tried recording my own music or even thought about producing beats before due to its difficulty but this program has completely changed my mind.

STNYC-Orientation

Through many workshops in various studios and workplaces such as Downtown Music Publishing, Platinum Sound Recording Studios, and many more, I was able to not only learn about music production and its many steps, but to see a future in music for myself. Being part of this program has given me this new appreciation for music and has helped me listen to my favorite songs from a different perspective. Learning to use ProTools, my musical ear was trained on new levels that helped me create beats from scratch as well as learning how to sample from some of my favorite songs to create a beat to enhance it. I met many people in the music industry that shared inspirational advice about confidence, speaking out, and how tough it is being a woman in music. Hearing from real people within the industry and learning about their endless uphill climbs has inspired me to become more confident and passionate about the career I would love to pursue in music.

In Sound Thinking NYC I was also taught what it means to be an effective leader. I was taught how to balance attention and ideas to minimize problems within a group as well as how important it is to make relationships with the people around you. Sound Thinking NYC became my family this summer and I couldn’t be happier to check in on them every once in a while to see how they are doing. Though the intention through this summer intensive was to learn about music and to really understand the ins and out of the industry, I think as a person I gained a lot more than music knowledge from this wonderful experience. I now have a huge supportive family that I know will accept me and support me on the long road ahead of me. There really isn’t a program quite like this one and I am beyond grateful I was able to experience this opportunity. I cannot wait for what the future holds.