Tag Archives: music

Keys to the Forgotten Song #writephoto

In the beginning the keys were known. Their place and purpose was common knowledge. They were discussed in passing as we might talk about the weather, the planning of meals, or the news. The keys made life what it was: they unlocked the people’s joys and sorrows, they opened new spaces within which to begin, become and belong. They gave them access to adventure, growth, grieving and love, finding and leaving, succeeding and failing, wanting and being enough.
The keys kept the song of the world in tune, according each the measure of who they were, each knowing the reasons for the bars in the way, each aware of the immense value of the rests and how the melody could not proceed where silence was not allowed.

And then, gradually, the keys were forgotten, lost. No one could say what or where they were. No children were taught their purpose and meaning. No elders wove stories of love and belonging, grief and mending. Soon enough, such neglect took its toll.

First, the threads, soft strings that kept the world in tune, in resonant resilience, began to unravel. For the most part this unraveling went unnoticed. Only the composers among the people, trained to listen deeply to the ever present song, heard the dissolution into discord. They would often give voice to the unstable harmonies, the discordant measures, trying desperately to change the way notes were conducted over and over again long after their time had passed. Most of their warnings fell on deaf ears. Sometimes people merely increased the volume of their own individual melodies in order to drown everything else out; sometimes the composers new and disturbing melodies would abruptly be brought to an end. These latter reactions made the music of the world more and more unbearable. The strings screeched and snagged, scratched and snapped. And this calamitous clamor only amplified, increasing in tempo and pitch.

People grew frantic and desperate. They no longer could remember what the song was for, or why it existed at all. In their forgetting, they began to no longer value individual melodies. In the forgetting, they lost their threads of their stories. In their forgetting, they no longer understood the necessity of rests, that music needed not only sound but its absence to survive.

So the people found it normal to insist that the best melodies were those which never had pauses, but went on and on without ceasing. They invented ways to play ever longer series of notes without ceasing. One of the fastest ways to do this was to play the same notes over and over again without ceasing. Eventually, generations of people never rested, but lived and died without ceasing, in ignorance of the sound of silence.

Finally the time came when this arrangement was no longer a sustainable option for anyone. The din was chaotic, catastrophically cacophonous. No one wanted to part with their many unmusical creations which they valued so dearly. And so it was decided that the song should be shut away. For so long the people had shut out the silence, confining it to emptiness the way one might drive light into its shadow. In a strange twist of fate, the land ceased its singing, and the shadow was all that remained.

The people needed a way to contain such a vastly woven web of song which for so long had throbbed at the center of life like the heart and soul of the world. At once the greatest engineers of the land held a great convention at which it was decided that they should forge an iron chest and that the song should be confined to it, instead of being allowed as it was to flow and flood everyone and everything, sending as it did so the pulse of itself everywhere.

The task was undertaken immediately, and people were congratulated on how much progress they made as they worked ceaselessly to finish, day and night. At its completion, they poured the song inside, slamming the heavy lid to seal it in with a clang. It is said that, though many lost their lives in the chest’s creation, once it had been buried no one could remember how to cry for their lost ones. They did not even know how to speak to one another. Now, even the song is lost, hidden in the land where it awaits the time when once again it is set free to restore balance to the earth and soften the hardened and harsh hearts of humankind.

I don’t know why I was the one to discover the chest these centuries later, its hinges twisted and rusted with time, its three locks mocking and massive, its contents as mysterious as the legend left to us in our fading memory.

Perhaps, as I have been told I came from a line of composers, I was simply blessed with the fortune: whether good or ill I cannot yet say. All I know is the all-consuming search for the keys. All I have to follow is this single stray note according to which I can discover them. It reads: “Compassion, Gentleness, Division: at their beginning, these words hold the keys. For these are all that is needed to set singing a changing, growing, turning world. Each breaks the heavy heart of silence. Each turns a lock in the chest. When each is placed where it belongs and all three are held equally together, the song will return.”

The first part is easy enough to figure out. The beginning letters of the words are C, G, and D. But as to how and in what way these could be keys, I cannot say. Perhaps you remember?

In response to Sue’s photo prompt, The Chest.

One Million Dreams _ An Original Song

Earlier today a song came to me. It was inspired by an image I kept seeing in my mind of a million lights radiating out over the earth, each flame the spark within a person, dreaming for a better world. It wouldn’t leave me alone, so I made a first attempt at a recording tonight. Enjoy!

One Million Dreams

One million dreams fly
One million dreams fly
Over the ocean
Earth and sky

Shine, shine
You were meant to blaze brightly
You were meant to share your light

The Door Through

The room fills with people
Here to walk the painted labyrinth
Outlined in lights
We sing the songs of many times and places

And then you stand beside me
And hand over hand
The light that I am,
You are weaving, over and through

Things tenuous now, I tossed into in-between
Again, I part ways with uncertainty
Grown weary of its constant uncoiling
Assessing the world with wary narrow stare

And for a single second
One tick of the clock
Counting, counting down up there on the wall
I decide, step across, let go

Take your hand, our eyes meet
Everything I ought to run after
Around me falls away, dissolving
Even the fear of loving what I could lose

So much lighter now
Only brilliant joy
Welling up, cascading down
Earth and sky, and I

At the center, and from inside out
Around us, everyone is glowing
And it dawns on me, I’ve already answered
Your question at the heart of what we’re singing:

“I have opened a door
A door for you, that no one can close,
Will you walk through,
Will you walk through with me?”

***
Music and lyrics by Lawson Barnes and Carol Barriger

The Activity of Being

The wind breathes life into the leaves
And they are dancing,
To the music of the sunlight streaming.

High above me, the birds are not afraid
To let others hear their songs,
And with them I would wander, sharing music of my own
If only elements were all I had to live for.

So many voices, drown out by airplanes and great rivers of cars.
And the light within each creature hardly seems to shine,
Lost beneath the tides of artificial illumination
They vanish as we take what belongs to them, make it ours.

Like the birds who greet the sky at dawn,
With their ancient song of wisdom,
I will scatter drops of melody upon this place.

Perhaps, one day, every life will hear
What long-ago we soon forgot to be ours,
And as silent time passes, we’ll add back our voices
Rekindle our shining, recognize our wholeness.

It is time to remember,
For being is the great activity
Moving us, moving through us all,
And in it we have never given up participation.

Among the two many reasons, the gnawing unknowings,
Even where shadows blossom and the kindred we continue not to claim are keening,
always wonder and belonging, to hold us like beloved children,
Call us to return. Call and await us at the center.

For She Who Is

for now I climb out of the river
Onto a sunny rock,

And watch the light play, a golden echo
Sketched across my face.

There is a place for silence here,
Where motion is a small coming and going,

And all that can be heard is the drip of sunlight,
Drops of water tumbling off wet hair,

The simple, almost imperceptible sigh of the earth exhaling,
The stretching of a budding flower,

My own rhythm beneath fragile bones
All this is the music of my love.

Still the thoughts that chatter like incessant insects in my head,
Take me to where change remains a constant, wash these grey stones clean

She says to wait, to hush, to listen,
To receive, just let go.

She folds me in her arms as wide as sky,
She Who Is, with silver hair and purple eyes.