Keening Jones’ Hill Wood

Yesterday I stood and watched as an ancient, irreplaceable wood was destroyed. I hadn’t gone to listen, but to bear witness and yes, to hope that by doing so, I may be able to come to terms with my own sorrow. Sorrow for the trees, the bats, the foxes, the badgers, the plants, the insectsContinue reading “Keening Jones’ Hill Wood”

Listening With Wonder, Reverence And Joy

Wistman’s Wood, Dartmoor, Devon Wistman’s Wood is a special place. It is one of the highest oak woods in Britain, but its not like any other oak wood I’ve ever visited. The oaks grow through crevices between large granite boulders called clatters; as a result their growth is stunted and their trunks and branches areContinue reading “Listening With Wonder, Reverence And Joy”

Listening to Water

Venford Falls, Dartmoor, Devon I was in the mood for a waterfall. But, as I’m sure anyone who’s read any of my posts so far will already have anticipated, I wasn’t in the mood for a crowded one. Venford Falls, sometimes known as Dartmoor’s secret waterfall, seemed to fit the bill nicely. When I toldContinue reading “Listening to Water”

Absolute Pitch

Absolute Pitch (often referred to as Perfect Pitch) is the ability to recognise and name a musical note without a reference tone. It is possessed by about one in ten thousand people. I have just finished re-reading This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin. Levitin is a leading neuroscientist who specialises in musicContinue reading “Absolute Pitch”

Non-Aggression in Music

One of the most difficult things for me to learn as a musician has been the practice of non-aggression. This can be a tricky concept and there is often aversion to it when it is explained. But, as Chögyam Trungpa says “transcending aggression is the root of all the artistic talent one can ever imagine.¹”Continue reading “Non-Aggression in Music”

Improvisation From Scratch

I know plenty of musicians who would rather be lowered head first into a pit of adders than improvise music. Even some gifted jazz and rock musicians, who would think nothing of creating endless variation on a pre-existing melody, would be petrified at the thought of improvising from scratch. Which is odd, really. What leadsContinue reading “Improvisation From Scratch”

A Silent Minute

Chalice Well Gardens, Glastonbury Somerset One of the most wonderful things about being a Companion of Chalice Well and staying at Little St Michael’s retreat house is the freedom to be in the garden at any time, day or night, for the duration of your stay. I fell irrevocably in love with the peaceful andContinue reading “A Silent Minute”

Bardic Pilgrimage: Taliesin

Bedd Taliesin, Llangynfelyn, Ceredigion Today was a big day. For years, I have wanted to pay my respects at the grave of Taliesin, Primary Chief Bard of Britain. Never mind that this is a Bronze Age round cairn and the real Taliesin lived sometime in the 6th century. If you’ve read any of Taliesin’s poetry you’llContinue reading “Bardic Pilgrimage: Taliesin”

Bardic Pilgrimage: Daffyd ap Gwilym

Strata Florida Abbey, Tregaron, Ceredigion By now, my northward road had taken me as far as mid Wales and the second stop on my Welsh pilgrimage: the isolated, ruined abbey of Strata Florida. I had gone to pay my respects to the 14th century bardic poet, Daffyd ap Gwilym, who is believed to be buried there.Continue reading “Bardic Pilgrimage: Daffyd ap Gwilym”

Bardic Pilgrimage: Henry Vaughn

Henry Vaughn Physic Garden, Talybont-on-Usk, Brecon Beacons So, with happy anticipation, my Welsh pilgrimage has begun. The plan is to take three days heading north from Monmouth until I reach St George/Llan San Siôr on the north coast of Wales. My mother’s family have their roots in this small village, but I’ve never been there before.Continue reading “Bardic Pilgrimage: Henry Vaughn”

A Screed Against Aggressive Noise

The Silent Pool, Shere, Surrey “There are days when an uncanny silence seems to hang over the surface of ‘Silent Pool’, a small lake surrounded by trees a mile west of Shere in Surrey. And if the legend that is told about the lake is true, this silence recalls the murderous lechery of a princeContinue reading “A Screed Against Aggressive Noise”

Drone On: The Drone in Sound Healing

The Use of the Drone in Sound Healing and Spiritual Development (This essay, in slightly different form, was initially written for, and submitted for my Gong Practitioner diploma from the College of Sound Healing.) In this essay, I will explore the role of the drone in sound healing and in spiritual development, by looking atContinue reading “Drone On: The Drone in Sound Healing”

A Gift of Peace and Quiet

Climperwell Spring, Cranham, Glos It was a cold, blustery, bleak day when Apollo the nose-kissing Malamute hitched a ride on my back seat from a south London pound to Cheltenham Animal Shelter. Not an ideal day to go listening, but, I reasoned, at least not many people would want to be out and about soContinue reading “A Gift of Peace and Quiet”

Learning an Instrument – Leaving the Inner Teacher Behind

When I was a child, I had a bike with a handle at the back. Dad and I would go up the road to the shops: me on my bike, him walking behind, holding the handle. One day, he let go and I rode home, not realising that he was no longer with me untilContinue reading “Learning an Instrument – Leaving the Inner Teacher Behind”

Learning an Instrument – Old, Familiar Tunes

You’ve been working hard at learning your instrument. You are frustrated. No matter how hard you try, you just cannot play that new piece you’re working on. You could give up. I can help you with this, but first it is only fair that I reveal my own approach to teaching an instrument. If IContinue reading “Learning an Instrument – Old, Familiar Tunes”