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Music and Silence

The music Fay is listening to cloaks the scene in front of her with profound meaning. The sugarbird – seconds ago frantically fluttering between the eggplant throats of two ivory strelitzia flowers – now seems calmed by the notes that drip into the heart of the shrub, one by one, like a necklace of nectar he can sip from.

Arvo Pärt – Wind Repertory Project.

Alina – Arvo Pärt – Listen and discover music at

‘Arvo Pärt (b. 1935) is an Estonian composer, often identified with the school of minimalism, though he rejects this label (and, even more vehemently, the label of “holy minimalism”, which he describes as meaningless.)’ (Quote from

Sofia Gubaidulina Asgatowna – Wikipedia.

Sofia Asgatovna Gubaidulina, (Russian София Асгатовна Губайдулина) (born 24 October 1931) is a Russian-Tatar composer.

‘During her studies in Soviet Russia, her music was labeled “irresponsible” for its exploration of alternate tunings.’ (Quote from

Under the pearlescent skin of the heaving sea a cabinet of curiosities is revealed by the stirring sound of piano notes– crystal monsters of the deep shape-shift with the swaying motion of sturdy kelp stalks.

GEO 565: Geographic Information Systems and Science.

Fay thinks of the school of jellyfish that swam with her at Boulders a month ago, their virtual shapes pulsating towards her. The hot pain as one of them leashed her wrist with a tentacle bracelet.

Jellyfish – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The white sails of a small boat reflect the last rays of the sun.

Fay’s Dream:

Fay is walking across a dusty field towards an isolated tall building. It has an old-fashioned lift with a metal grille cage. The 6th floor is where she needs to go; she has a job interview and feels nervous. An unusual-looking man is following her. Something odd about his hair worries her, and his nose seems too small for his face. Behind the building is a ceramic bisque factory, filled with kitsch figurines: bisque-fired gnomes and fairies and various fruits and angels, as well as Disney characters, like Sleeping Beauty and Goldilocks.

The man following Fay turns out to be the owner of the factory, and the person who is going to interview her.  Fay watches him from a window on the 6th floor landing as he walks down to the ground level using the fire escape stairs. He seems only interested in working the deep brown soil of his back lot. There are several large containers filled with verdant vegetables and herbs, and a chicken coop.

giy – grow it yourself | urban sprout.

An enormous workhorse plods past with baskets filled with fresh produce strapped across his broad back. The scene is shrouded in mist.

As Fay follows the man down the stairs, she thinks back to that one time when the old lift shuddered from side to side, causing her to slip and fall onto the metal floor.

A woman with pale turquoise eyes has joined the owner of the factory in his garden. A garnet bead is clamped to her nostril with a slim, wooden washing peg; Japanese-looking and elegant. She is telling him about a group of children she had just met, who gave her a cloud message. A carnival feeling develops during her telling and the horse reappears, with flowers braided into its mane. Vintage Horse Clip Art: Victorian Die Cut of Black Circus Horse with Fancy Reins.

Fay wants to continue staring at the woman, but instead looks at the man. It doesn’t take her long to realise that she cannot work for him; cannot spend her days painting his collection of kitsch figurines while he works outside, in the sunshine, elbow-deep in rich, crumbling soil.

present tense

I love listening to music, and I love working. I don’t seem to be able to do both simultaneously – or at least not for longer than a few tracks.  About two weeks ago this changed, when I discovered (Probably the last person on the planet to do so, but if this site is unfamiliar to you, do check it out – it basically allows you to create your own ‘radio stations’, tailored to your individual taste.) It has enriched my working experience, expanded my music library and reacquainted me with old favourites, like Tom Waits.  Oh, what joy!

Tom Waits – Little Drop of Poison – Video, listening & stats at

Image from

I love listening to cello music – it seems to be the only instrument I can always listen to. Creating my own ‘cello’ radio station, I discovered Zoë Keating’s contemporary cello music for the first time. Addictive bliss. (Click on tags below images for a listen.)

Zoë Keating – Legions (War) – Listening & stats at

Image from  

Nick Cave’s music was vaguely familiar to me (I’m basically musically illiterate), so it was wonderful to actually listen to a few tracks of his music – his ‘Rather Lovely Thing’ is rather lovely.

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – Counting The Stars – Listening & stats at

Krzysztof Penderecki (b. November 23, 1933 in Dębica) is a Polish composer and conductor whose works are often composed in remembrance of 20th century catastrophes. Threnos for 52 string instruments (1960) is dedicated to the victims of Hiroshima, and the piano concerto Resurrection was composed as a reaction to the 11 September 2001 attacks on the WTC. The works’ instrumental tonal colouring and dramatic sounds are very emotional.

Polish Requiem, which he began in 1980 with the composition of the Lacrimosa, is dedicated to Lech Walesa. 

I liked listening to the Adagietto from Paradise Lost from Cello Concerto No. 2 and Divertimento for Solo Cello (1994) I. Sarabande. (Sextet & Clarinet Quartet etc. – Krzysztof Penderecki – Listen and discover music at


Schott Music – Krzysztof Penderecki – Profile.

And then of course there is tango music – instantly uplifting, adding a certain je ne sais quoi to an otherwise ordinary working day. Too many artists to mention, but Manga De Tanos was a new discovery.

Manga De Tanos – Discover music, concerts, stats, & pictures at

Image:   manga de tanos – quintetto di tango argentino.

My cello radio station introduced me to Unwoman (aka Erica Mulkey). I can’t figure out the ‘unwoman’ part, but never mind, her cello playing is sublime. She is based in San Francisco, and is a cellist, singer and songwriter.  I like this quote (from about her music: “Layered with skillful cello, rich vocals, and electronically arranged beats, her solo music is a futuristic homage to her classical training.”

Treat yourself and listen to a track or two.

Unwoman – Discover music, videos, concerts, stats, & pictures at

Adam Hurst’s music blends Middle Eastern, Indian, and Gypsy traditions with Western Classical sounds. His style of  playing has variously been described as “original, unique, improvised and melodic”. Listening to any of his tracks instantly calms me down. Beautiful.


Adam Hurst – Discover music, videos, concerts, stats, & pictures at


I am so happy that I’ve found a way to  make my days more musical.

Let me know what you’re listening to at the moment – happy creating!


A note on the title of this post – inspired by one of my favourite novels of all time, by Rose Tremain. Quoting from Goodreads: “Set in 17th century Denmark, this is the story of an English lutenist summoned to Denmark to join the King’s private royal orchestra. While there he falls in love with the Queen’s maid and becomes embroiled in a tug of war in the royal court.”

I think it’ll read rather well with a bit of Zoë Keating in the background.

Music and Silence by Rose Tremain – Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists.


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