Category Archives: Thoughts

Let’s Come Together and Sing for Change

Hello world,

a while ago my talented friend Jihae had the idea to start a beautiful initiative to help the overwhelming global refugees crisis in most continents through music, I was very happy to contribute and help producing this project along with Oscar-winner score producer Teese Gohl.

Now it’s a reality: Let’s Come Together is an interactive musical peace movement to activate the public’s participation in supporting UNHCR and NGOs in their fight for human rights in the midst of a global refugee crisis through the power of music.

Every week starting November 5th 2015 until December 7th, a group or a choir will perform “Let’s Come Together” and record the video of the performance to share on social media. The Putney School in Vermont has already launched the project with Jihae and Teese a few days ago.

We invite you to do the same! You don’t have to be a singer or a musician to participate, just gather your tribe of friends and sing.

Share a video recording of your version of “Let’s Come Together” on http://www.facebook.com/LetsComeTogether7 with hashtags #SaveRefugees #LetsComeTogether #UNHCR


LET’S COME TOGETHER

Words & Music by JiHAE
Arrangement by Teese Gohl
Production by Simone Giuliani and Teese Gohl

Let’s come together in one harmony
Let’s come together as one family
Since only love can heal the world
Let’s plant love and hope in every boy and girl

Let’s come together as one heart and soul
To brighten the weather and to break the mold
Since only love can heal the world
Let’s plant love and hope in every boy and girl

Come let’s come together for everyone’s freedom across the lands
Oh let hope overflow from the cold river to our loving hands

Let’s come together and sing a new song
A song full of laughter, a song of joy
Since only love can heal the world
Let’s plant love and hope in every boy and girl
Together we can heal the world
Let’s plant love and hope in every boy and girl

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On Dec 7, 2015 we are inviting people of all ages, races, nationalities and voices across the globe to gather together and sing at a public place in your town. Be sure to post  the time and location of your singing gathering on: www.facebook.com/LetsComeTogether7

Please also visit Jihae’s ‘Causes’ page for a lot of useful information about the refugee crisis and more details about this project.

“We don’t choose the place we are born, just as we don’t choose to live where natural disaster strikes. If we turn our backs on innocent children and families that have been stripped of everything but their lives, can we expect the world to do anything different if misfortune befalls us?

Each time the international community chooses to ignore international law due to fear and xenophobia, our civilization deteriorates further. If we use race and religion as a reason to ignore people’s right to freedom, can we expect others to do anything different to us?”

– Jihae

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ON LISTENING

Our ears can perceive vibrations and then convert them into sonic feelings. Our eyes can recognize the many shapes of light and convert them into signals that become visual images in our brain. It has been discovered that inside our brain, our hearing system is very close to other areas of the brain that regulate our life: pain, pleasure and other basic emotions.

The main difference between our hearing and all the other senses is that for instance, we are able to close our eyes if we want to, but we can’t control the penetration of a sound inside our body. We can’t close our ears. We are bounded to receive many audio signals every day with no direct control over their source or intensity.

In our society, hearing is not considered a very precious asset after all: we put a lot of attention and emphasis mostly on our eyesight. We teach our children to pay attention to both sides of the street before they cross, to make sure that no cars are coming, but we rarely teach them to listen to the sound of a car. We rely almost exclusively on our eyesight as a tool for survival.

We have poor habits when it comes to hearing and we often take it for granted, until we realize the importance of this vital sense, until we end up mistaking hearing with listening.

One of the most important gifts of our ‘listening’ is linked to memory.
A memory, something we remember, is directly linked to our thoughts. Our ears are intelligent when it comes down to ‘remember’ things, more than we think.

To our ears, even a slight form of repetition in music will become an essential element: music moves within a timeline, it moves forward, but our ears are able to memorize and store what they already heard the first time. We could say that our ears have a conscience of the present and the past. We can’t have a memory of a sound on its first note, but when we hear the second note, we can already connect it to the first one, automatically.

Our ears create a connection between the past and the present and they send signals to our brain, expecting ‘something’ to be happening in the near future.

Listening to music is very different from reading a book: when we are listening to a concert we can’t repeat something that wasn’t fully understood while it happened. The listener has to flex his/her own conscience and concentration to receive the information that just received.

To listen means to use our ears together with our thoughts.

Alfred Hitchcock never intended to have music during the shower scene in Psycho until he understood the incredible power of the music that the composer, Bernard Hermann, wrote for that specific sequence of images. That scene became Hitchcock’s trademark.

Only when our ears and eyes work together, we get to understand the incredible importance of listening.

ON INTENTION – Part II

I have recently scored a soundtrack for a short movie that inspired me very much for its genuine content and powerful simplicity.

I found the story so compelling and beautiful that at first I thought of writing something that could be defined minimal and very polite, with the intention of leaving enough space to the characters without overshadowing them and let the story evolve without too much distraction.

After a few days of work I realized what I was doing was ok, but was not exploiting the full potential of the beautiful message that the director was trying to convey. In other words, everything was fine to my eyes and ears, but my work wasn’t adding much to the movie. It felt detached. Why was that? How could that happen, since I felt so attached in the first place to the story and the characters?

The answer came to me the day after, when I asked myself (I often talk to myself): what is this movie really about? What is the sparkle that triggers all the events in this movie? What’s the primal dynamic? My answer was: intention. That was the only thread to follow in the story, the one element that I needed to translate into music. I kept ‘intention’ as my only reference and as soon as I started writing new music everything fell into place, magically.

This wasn’t anymore an issue of priority, space or importance of the music vs the story; this time everything was simply about intention. This newly-acquired notion made my music grow with and within the story. It was all unfolding under my eyes and I was happy to realize that I had very little to do with it. It feels good when that happens. It feels like natural magic because while we make music this way we become what we often forget we are: sophisticated human emotions translators.

I laid down a piano part and focused on the intention of my playing rather than worrying about quantizing or fixing dynamics, I gave priority to spontaneity rather than perfectionism. Then I wrote an orchestration for double bass, 2 cellos, 2 violas and 4 violins supporting the piano part and used the same method, when arranging.  Then I decided to trade themes from the piano to the oboe and hired an oboist to come in and record.

The player showed up the day of the session and we started recording. It was not what I expected. Sometimes it happens, guys. The musician was very young and things weren’t exactly going smoothly. Although he was a very good reader, he wasn’t emotionally aligned with the intention of the music and the result was a big sense of detachment in the delivery. Perfect performance, but no intention! Not enough real love. After about 30 long minutes, I suggested we took a break.

I explained what I meant and asked if this time he could please play while following the movie on the screen and forget about the music chart. He started playing again and this time it glued flawlessly with the other instruments: not a perfectly read performance, but a perfectly emotionally one!

This time he played his part with everything that was really needed: a lot of honest intention. When the kid was playing I felt his hesitation, his hope, his fear, his decisiveness, his bravery. I thought at some point he felt he was the main character of the movie. After two takes we were done, no punch, no edits. I kept everything in. The director loved the soundtrack and I did too because this time I felt extremely connected to the story.

The purpose of the music synced to moving images should be of serving the story, not to create another one. There’s always a different balance to be found between music and the images and it changes according to each story. Every story is different: different characters, different synergies, different settings. But at the core, there will be only one thread and it’s up to the composer to find it and translate it into music.

In my mind, the image of a good soundtrack is that one of two solid rails and I picture the storytelling as a train. The train must get to its destination, the rails must support it and guide it so that the message will be delivered.

Balance is everything.

ON HABITAT

Etymology: Latin, it inhabits, from habitare
Date: 1796

1 a : the place or environment where a plant or animal naturally or normally lives and grows
b
: the typical place of residence of a person or a group
c : a housing for a controlled physical environment in which people can live under surrounding inhospitable conditions (as under the sea)
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How does the habitat/environment affects a person? How much? In what measure and way?

It’s important to relate to the place where we happen to be, temporarily or otherwise. When we like wherever we are, we feel relaxed, at ease and we can release creative energy, we are open. On the other hand, when we don’t like where we are we feel misplaced, not in sync and disconnected. We feel something it’s not right.

The word ‘place’ means something different to different people. Sometimes great people with the best intentions and good spirit can become completely jaded and completely shift their attitude, when living in an inharmonious environment.

I see this as a beautiful reminder that we are animals, we belong to the animal kingdom. No matter how evolved we think we are, we are connected to our habitat and it has nothing to do with the quality of the furniture.

When I travel to a ‘place’ that is not my usual habitat, I’m always curious to experience new feelings. If I’ll end up in a habitat that I don’t like or has a vibe that I don’t like, this change of scenery somehow will affect me, even if temporarily. It will affect the music that I will write and the way I will react to the dynamic of the city. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

How do you feel about this?

ON INTENTION

Music has instantaneous powers.

It’s a snapshot, a moving frame in a slow motion timeline, that is our life.

When the content of music is genuine, it reaches us with the strongest impact: we feel that those lyrics were written for us, that the melody was composed exactly the way we wanted it to be. We awake and feel comforted.

A true artist has the ability to speak out his mind through music reaching anybody, instantly. The most beautiful thing to me is that when this message is genuine, it freezes a moment in someone’s life and makes that instant eternal.

For example, when Bob Dylan wrote ‘Blowin’ in the wind’, his message had a planetary impact. It affected millions of people and transformed Dylan’s thought – the thought of one man – into the most precious personal belonging of whoever took his message in. Everybody in the 60s felt that shot, instantly. Isn’t that the closest thing to a divine happening? Instantaneous transformation. No politician, spoke-person or religious leader can achieve that, in an instant.

The reason why we become so attached to a specific song in time, it’s because when we are receptive, especially at a young age, we take that moment in, fully – without any doubts or hesitations – and we make it ours. It becomes our moment, forever. It’s frozen in time and we lock it away as our most precious belonging, it instantly becomes part of our cherished memories.

This explains in part everybody’s favorite complaining line: ‘In my times music was much better, the lyrics were more genuine, the singers were more real, more this, more that…’ – That is very interesting because people will always say that: in the 60s, the 70s, the 80s, the 90s and it will be said about music that hasn’t been written yet.

It simply means that different songs have different meaning for different people.

Someone’s most precious song can be from 1952, from 1973, from 1985, from last week, from next week. Who cares when the magic happens..? This only confirms the fact that music is still one of the most powerful ways of communications, no matter its commercial value.

It’s an instant shot in someone’s life and it reflects a specific moment in our short terrestrial life: a song is just another milestone that we decide to set in our path to make our staying on this planet more enjoyable or heart-wrenching, up to us.

That’s why I think that the true value of an artist lies in the ability of delivering a message that always maintains its purest intention at the time of its conception. Time will do the rest.

ON TRAVELING

Etimology:
TRAVAILEN, TRAVELEN to torment, labor, strive, journey, from Anglo-French TRAVAILLER. Date: 14th Century.
TRAVAGLIO in Italian, it’s the labour pain, part of the delivery after pregnancy. Labor = work

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When we travel, we start a journey not only towards a physical destination, but also towards an emotional one. When we travel, we are starting the process of becoming what we have always dreamt of becoming. We are letting the unknown enter the field, we let our resistance go and we are closer to understanding who we really are, beyond the environment that we’re leaving behind.

Like in its etimology, the word travel contains a very broad set of descriptions: take the torment, for example.
What is the torment, if not a movement of our soul struggling to reach its desired destination? To strive, to devote our serious efforts and energy to the cause of traveling, to move, to shift, to transform. The preparation for a journey, the beginning of traveling, it’s nothing but a reflection of what’s happening inside of us, while we are preparing to accept anything that will come our way and welcome it as a tool for our growth. Like a warrior painting his face before he goes hunting, so the girl applies make-up before she begins her journey, not knowing what she will find on her path. Different times, but equal tribal customs. The excitement that we prove before we travel, doesn’t come only from a reaction to our expectation to see a new location, because the real novelty will be to find a new location inside of us. We know this but we don’t admit it. Or perhaps, we will understand this only at the end of the journey.

In any case, the physical movement, the logistic movement, becomes a mere reflection of what’s happening within us. It’s an expansion of our boundaries, and because of this, can sometimes create anxiety and fear. Fear of realizing that we are not who we think we are and fear to witness a reality that doesn’t match the one that we have created in our existing dimension. Fear of leaving our comfort zone, a place where we are accepted, a place where everything moves with inertia, in a constant motion moving in the same straight line unless modified by an external force.

Traveling to a different place means being able to let go of all our existing notions about culture, behavior, discipline, audacity and sensibility. While we are traveling, we are starting to understand better where we are going and where we are coming from.

ON GLOBALIZATION & ART

Image has always been a very important factor in entertainment, but it has now surpassed any previous expectations.

There is a certain quality about the marriage of globalization and media and it lies in the fact that entertainment is now more than ever a big escape from the magnitude of real-life social and environmental atrocities happening and perhaps it will soon be the only outlet left.

For a person who doesn’t work in the entertainment industry or is not part of it,  it has become more natural and very rewarding to be part of a TV show, to recognize his or her story in the lyrics of a song, to feel an active character of a play or simply being part of a live crowd.

People want to belong. People don’t want to be left out.
People don’t want to feel abandoned. People want to be part of IT.
People want to be in the loop. We all want to be in the loop.

But is there even a loop? I think it looks more like a gigantic rubber band being stretched endlessly.