Posted in Life, music

I love the sound of the birds

Photo by Sreenivas on Unsplash

I hear their singing before the sky begins to lighten. The birds are awake, welcoming the dawn. I love to hear their voices.

Their song is joyful. Some people hate the morning. But obviously the birds love it. It’s like they couldn’t wait for the faintest brightness on the horizon to start singing.

I feel joy when I hear their song. Maybe that’s part of the reason I love the morning so much. I don’t know why they are singing. I don’t know what they are singing about. I don’t recognize the tune. But they sing it over and over again, and each time they do, it makes me feel good. It reaches a place in my head that releases some kind of happiness into my soul.

Some of the songs are so simple. A single note, over and over again. Some songs are choruses repeated again and again. Some melodies are complex. When I’m out on a walk, I’ll sometimes whistle to imitate a bird song. I’m not very good at it. But as we go back and forth, their joy becomes mine. Whether it’s true or not, I like to think we’ve got a little conversation going. I know, they are probably thinking, “You’re not a bird.” Just like the cows I moo at who chuckle in their heads, “Does he think he sounds like a cow?” If the owls haven’t yet gone to bed, I’ll hear them talking from one stand of trees to another. I’ll add my “hoo-hoo-hoo-hooo” to the conversation. I don’t think I’ve ever fooled them, though.

Their song is hopeful. Most bird song sounds optimistic to me. Somehow their song says, “It’s going to be a great day!” Even the doves, whose “whoo” sounds mournful, do it in a positive way. It’s a new day. It’s filled with possibilities. The birds just can’t help but sing about it.

From their vantage point, either up in a tree or flying in the air, they probably see the first rays of the rising sun before I do. Their song announces another chance to both live and love. No matter what happened yesterday, I’ve got another chance today. I’ve got a chance to do it better or a chance to keep up the good work.

Their song is alive. Creation was pretty quiet until God spoke and birds filled the sky. Suddenly, there were sounds above the trees and seas. Hawks screamed as they glided overhead. Crows cawed. The staccato brraattt of a woodpecker working on a tree filled the air. Ducks and geese added their quacks and honks. The creative voice of God made this world a noisy place!

That last paragraph reminded me of all the words we’ve created to describe the sounds of the birds. Tweet. Chirp. Squawk. Peep. Cock-a-doodle-doo. The land, water, and air are alive with the songs and sounds of birds, and I’m alive, too.

Posted in eyes, music

Is that a sharp or a natural?

Photo by Betty Rotaru on Unsplash

I have been thoroughly enjoying my new lens implants following eye surgery to remove my cataracts. My distance vision in my left eye is crystal clear. My reading distance vision in my right eye is perfect.

And then I sat down to practice my trumpet. My music stand isn’t far away and it isn’t close up either. It’s about one arm’s length from my eyes, and it’s not in focus! I just can’t see all the ledger lines below or about the staff. Is that note in a space or on a line? Is that a sharp or a natural? I can’t move the music closer because I’ve got a horn in front of me. I can’t stand further back, either, cause the notes will be too small.

Hmm. I did not foresee this dilemma. I had to come up with a solution. I need to get my lip in shape for Easter. So I came up with a solution. I purchased a pair of cheap reading glasses, popped out the right lens, and wore them with just the left lens in place. Voila! Every note is in focus. Pretty slick. I’ll just keep them in my trumpet case, next to the valve oil.

My followup appointment with my eye doctor is this week. I’ll mention it, but I can’t imagine there are any cheaper or easier solutions. I only spend a little time each day playing trumpet, so I can’t see investing a lot of money in glasses for that purpose.

Posted in Christmas, music

The evolution of Christmas music at home.

Even thought we didn’t decorate our Christmas tree until Christmas Eve while was growing up, we did begin playing Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving. After telling Alexa to play jazz Christmas music on iHeart radio, I’m marveling at how much the listening experience has changed.

Currently, I’m streaming “The Christmas Song” performed by a jazz steel drum ensemble. Shazam doesn’t even know who they are.

45rpmMy earliest memories of Christmas music involved a stack of 45s played on a small record player with a built in speaker. I am still amazed by the mechanics of the record changer. A stack of 9 records might give you half-an-hour of non-stop music. Then you flipped the stack over to listen to all the other sides. Songs I remember include Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, Silent Night, Rudolph the Red- Nosed Reindeer, and Frosty the Snowman.

Next song is “Do you hear what I hear?” played by a solo jazz guitarist that Shazam also cannot identify.

consoleSometime in the 60’s my parents bought a console stereo system, a five foot long piece of furniture with built-in speakers, receiver and turntable. My mom and dad bought a number of 33 LPs, which provided multiple-tracks per side, about 45 minutes of music per side. We could load a stack of those and have hours of music in the house before we had to flip them over. The label “hi fidelity” on the outside of the console meant it was state of the art for the time, but in reality not much better than what we had before. Mostly just louder. The albums I most remember include “The Many Moods of Christmas” by the Robert Shaw Chorale, a Perry Como Christmas album, and a narrated LP of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” and the b-side “Rudolph’s Second Christmas.”

Next song streaming: “I’ll be home for Christmas” by vocalist Brian McKnight.

Around this same time, some FM stations began playing non-stop Christmas music on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We would play that station non-stop for those two days, exposing us to much more music.

Next song: “We with you a Merry Christmas” by Terry Wollman’s ensemble.

I never acquired any 8-tracks, so cassettes were next. It must have been after I got married that we got a stereo receiver with a cassette deck. It certainly was a lot easier to accumulate, store and take along cassettes filled with Christmas music. Until it broke or stretched or twisted or got stuck. From those days I remember Canadian Brass, Amy Grant, and The Carpenters.

Next song: Louis Armstrong, “Zat You, Santa Claus?”

By the time we came to Florida, most of our music had migrated to compact disks. These were great because you could easily skip to whatever song you wanted. Our collection included Stan Kenton Christmas, more Canadian Brass, and many different vocalists. We still have some of our CDs around, somewhere, but don’t play them very often. If I do pull them out, I have to play them on our DVD player. Cause we stream most of our music.

Current song: “Angels We Have Heard on High” by Caribbean Jazz Project.

hero_01Depending on where I am, I’ll go to iHeart radio, Pandora, Spotify or Amazon Prime to stream any artist or genre of Christmas music I’m in the mood for, on a phone, iPad, computer or Echo. And the music will play forever if you let it. Youtube has plenty to choose from, including live performances to watch. Netflix offers a four-hour fire with Christmas music in the background.

Current song: an old recording of “Winter Wonderland” by Ella Fitzgerald.

Plus, for any song that plays, I can use Shazam to find the lyrics, play a video, and buy it for myself if I want to add it to a device.

It really is amazing how much music has both changed and stayed the same. So many of the tunes are classic. So many arrangements are new, making the variety almost endless.

Current song: “Let it snow” by Wynton Marsalis.

The least-evolved part of Christmas music in my home is pulling out my guitar to sing with my kids, both a generation ago and now with my grandchildren. Never gets old!

One more: “Feliz Navidad” by Spyro Gyra.