I’ve been recounting my old war days on the PCT as of late; here’s part 1 and part 2 of that series. I definitely still have much to share about those adventures and I promise I will be going through all of them in due time. For now, I want to shift the focus instead on some things I have been working on for a while, because I finally feel ready to share my craft with anyone who finds interest.
I started practicing music about two years ago, when a great friend of mine introduced me to an instrument known as the kalimba, also known as the thumb piano. It was a hollow block of wood with metal tines one plucks with their thumbnails, and with two small holes in the back and one on the front for adding effects like reverb or the cool “wah-wah” effect. For the first time in my life I was making musical sounds without struggle, the melody just floated effortlessly from the metal tines, seducing me into this amazing world of music.
After a few months of playing the kalimba, I ordered a Native American flute and started practicing on that. It took me a while to be able to produce good notes, and a little bit longer to figure out how to create a melody, but within about a month or two I was making music on it as well. I lived on a farm in the Ozarks at the time, and it was my favorite thing to go out to the pond in the field and play my kalimba and flute as various farm animals would come and sit, sometimes a goat would come to nuzzle me. This was where I found peace within myself for the first time. My thoughts ceased, my anxieties melted away, and I found myself completely relaxed.
Needless to say, I haven’t stopped making music since. Two years now down the road, I have branched out musically in ways I would never have imagined. Even still, it completely amazes me that I’m capable of this at all.
I still play the kalimba and flute, but now I’m experimenting with as many different instruments and styles as I can find. It turns out there’s a whole litany of instruments that can be learned intuitively, and for me the learning process is fun. About a month ago I started playing the didgeridoo, which I expected would be an extremely difficult instrument to learn, however I’ve taken to it quite well. Adding in some throat singing techniques makes for some wonderful sounds, and playing around with different vocals and sound effects makes me feel like a kid again, blowing raspberries and making funny sounds. The most difficult part was getting my circular breathing locked in, but once you get it you have it always. Now I’ve started working rhythms into it and I’m getting some sounds such as this:
I just love the powerful, primal sounds it makes, and how when I lock into it just right, the rhythms come forth seemingly of their own accord. This type of music has always spoken to me, but the idea of that music being inside me was something I would have considered absurd just two years ago. Considering I’ve only been at the didge for a month, I can’t wait to see where I’m at with that two years from now.
I mentioned earlier that I’ve also been practicing throat singing. Now this is something that I’ve been interested in for about seven years, and I’ve listened to quite a bit of Tuvan and Mongolian throat singing, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I could actually do it. I’ve been practicing this for six months now and I’ve made leaps and bounds in progress. I went from making horrible, raspy screeches to creating a polyphonic symphony full of rich harmonics and high, whistling overtones in just a couple of months. Combine that with a Vietnamese mouth harp and you get something that sounds like it came from an ancient tribal shaman:
I really hope that you’ve found this interesting, as I certainly enjoyed sharing it. I can promise much more in the future as I continue to experiment and refine my musical ability. I’m also very interested in what people think of what I’m doing so if you have any thoughts, critiques, or advice please feel free to share it in the comments. As always I appreciate all who visit my blog, and thanks for reading!