Monday, April 9, 2012

Imagining A to Z: H is for Hack the Music

H is for Hack the Music

To hack is to cut away; to clear.

Sometimes clearing away in order to experience what has been in front of you or alongside you, but nonetheless remained hidden, requires a bit of hacking. A bit of clearing. Oddly, clearing can also be achieved by being in a place that is full. It is inside a fullness that clarity is achieved.

There is a story Jonah Lehrer tells in Imagine about David Byrne and it reminded me of John Cage's understanding about traffic, music, and silence and how being full can lead to insight, inspiration.  I think it has something to do with triggering the right hemisphere.  Anyway, here's Lehrer writing about David Byrne:
While Byrne celebrates the pleasures of biking—“ The wind in your face, the exercise, the relaxation”— he bikes mostly for another reason: it lets him listen to the city. He describes cycling as a form of urban eavesdropping, a way to overhear the hum of the streets. “When you’re stuck in a car, it’s like you’re in a bubble,” Byrne says. “You can’t hear anything that’s happening outside. But when you’re on a bike, you can tap into the atmosphere. You can feel people doing their thing. It’s a kind of connection.” When I met Byrne outside his office loft in SoHo, on a cobblestone street filled with fancy clothing boutiques, he was carrying a muffin and a helmet; his shock of white hair was perfectly vertical. He led me inside, up three flights of stairs, and down a grim, industrial hallway. (The building used to be a sweatshop.) It was a warm day, and the windows of his studio were wide open— the sound of the street seeped in. “I like it a little noisy,” Byrne says. “It reminds me where I am.”
from David Byrne's Bicycle Diaries.

In this interview with John Cage, he helps us to uncover the relationship between traffic and silence.

Lehrer, Jonah (2012-03-19). Imagine: How Creativity Works (Kindle Locations 2431-2434). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
Note: In this series of post during the month of April, I am participating in the A to Z blogging challenge, with each day focusing on a letter.  In order to bring some cohesion to this process--releasing the imagination is the focus of each post.


  1. I like a quieter sort of noise, but I guess that's why I'm a country mouse. Wind in the trees, bird chatter, distant cars and lawnmowers, the train in the valley - those are my sounds.

    1. I imagine it is what rests beneath them--the music so to speak, that both Cage and Byrne are about. Not the surface 'noise' but the music. Thanks, I like country sounds as well.

  2. It's amazing how different the process is for everyone. I find a combination of being by myself in the wilderness with nothing but the hum of the Earth and observing humanity ignites creativity.

    1. I found your blog through the A To Z Challenge (I'm unofficial) and so glad I did. I bought Lehrer's book a few weeks ago, and I used to teach music to Kindergarten classes, starting by helping them hear music in the world around them. This is a fabulous blog, and I'm so glad I found it. I love the way you think, write, and your approach to teaching (my husband is a teacher). I'll definitely be coming back often.

      If you do check my blog, brace yourself. I'm new to the blogger platform and completely lost, as well as lost with focus on the challenge. More failing better awaits.


    2. I think it is in the hearing, not necessarily what is heard that might matter. Thanks:)

    3. @Maxine: I did check out your blog and left a comment in reference to your post about heroes. Thanks so much for taking a look and commenting. Appreciate it and hope you will add to the conversation.


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