November 30, 2006

give thanks


Before we move on to December and onto our next series of exercises, let’s give thanks for everything we’ve learned in November.

I am grateful I downloaded all of my music into my computer and it is organized, finally!

I am thankful that Louise made me a wonderful CD as part of her exercises!

I am grateful for another month of creativity.

I am beyond grateful that I don’t have to work a safety job so I can be an artist every day and I pray that continues!!!

I am grateful that I’ve been humming and singing during my day.

I am grateful for this new blog and the discipline it creates in me to put creativity first every morning.


Think about this past month and make a gratitude list. Write down at least five statements of thankfulness and remember, thank yourself for taking on a new way of exploring the world and your creativity.

And one last exercise - pick five or six CDs that you no longer want/need and swap them with a friend or organize a group swap so you end up with 5 or 6 CDs that are new to you. Do this every couple of months so you have new music for free!

how to sing the blues

Daily Creator L.P. sent this in to give us all a good laugh.

by Lame Mango Washington(attributed to Memphis Earlene Gray with help from Uncle Plunky, revisions by Little Blind Patti D. and Dr. Stevie Franklin)

1. Most Blues begin, "Woke up this morning."

2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues, 'less you stick something nasty in the next line, like " I got a good woman, with the meanest face in town."

3. The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes ... sort of: "Got a good woman - with the meanest face in town. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher - and she weigh 500 pound."

4. The Blues are not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch; ain't no way out.

5. Blues cars: Chevys and Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft an' state-sponsored motor pools ain't even in the running. Walkin' plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.

6. Teenagers can't sing the Blues. They ain't fixin' to die yet. Adults sing the Blues. In Blues, " adulthood" means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.

7. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or any place in Canada. Hard times in St. Paul or Tucson is just depression. Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City still the best places to have the Blues. You cannot have the blues in any place that don't get rain.

8. A man with male pattern baldness ain't the blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg cuz you skiing is not the blues. Breaking your leg cuz an alligator be chomping on it is.

9. You can't have no Blues in an office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster.

10. Good places for the Blues:
a. highway
b. jailhouse
c. empty bed
d. bottom of a whiskey glass

Bad places:
a. Ashrams
b. gallery openings
c. Ivy League institutions
d. golf courses

11. No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, 'less you happen to be an old ethnic person, and you slept in it.

12. Do you have the right to sing the Blues? Yes, if:
a. you're older than dirt
b. you're blind
c. you shot a man in Memphis
d. you can't be satisfied

No, if:
a. you have all your teeth
b. you were once blind but now can see
c. the man in Memphis lived.
d. you have a retirement plan or trust fund.

13. Blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the blues. Gary Coleman could. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the blues.

14. If you ask for water and Baby give you gasoline, it's the Blues.Other acceptable Blues beverages are:
a. wine
b. whiskey or bourbon
c. muddy water
d. black coffee

The following are NOT Blues beverages:
a. mixed drinks
b. kosher wine
c. Snapple
d. sparkling water

15. If it occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to die. So is the electric chair, substance abuse, and dying lonely on a broken down cot. You can't have a Blues death if you die during a tennis match or getting liposuction.

16. Some Blues names for women:
a. Sadie
b. Big Mama
c. Bessie
d. Fat River Dumpling

17. Some Blues names for men:
a. Joe
b. Willie
c. Little Willie
d. Big Willie

18. Persons with names like Sierra, Sequoia, Auburn, and Rainbow can't sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

19. Make your own Blues name (starter kit):
a. name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.)
b. first name (see above) or name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Kiwi,etc.)
c. last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.)
For example, Blind Lime Jefferson, or Cripple Kiwi Fillmore, etc.(Well, maybe not "Kiwi.")

20. I don't care how tragic your life: you own a computer, you cannot sing the blues. You best destroy it. Fire, a spilled bottle of Mad Dog, or get out a shotgun. I don't care.

November 29, 2006

feng shui in nyc - hgtv

My friend and former roommate has her own show on HGTV! If you'd like your house designed for free - please see below and tell her Susan referred you.

I'm still searching for more fantastic & gregarious people, couples or families for my new "Fun Shui" tv show! We've already shot one episode and it was the most WONDERFUL, FUNNY, INCREDIBLE experience!!!! -- so send in your bios NOW while we still have a few slots left for the season and get in on this AMAZING opportunity that could very well change your life!

• We're looking for funny, energetic people who aren't shy in front of a camera!
• I'm looking for people who would be interested in having a room of their home redesigned.
• I need you to live in a HOUSE (no apartments allowed this season unfortunately - sorry!)
• I need you to live within approx. 70 miles of NYC.

• I'd be using Feng Shui principles in the room design, and selecting styles and colors that best work for each of your individual lives, goals, challenges, etc.
• This show will be driven by the results we can create in your life, so we will be selecting people with very specific issues they'd like to see changed in their current circumstances. We will be doing a follow-up interview after each episode is filmed to capture any positive results!
• We would be shooting for 4 days straight (Monday-Thursday), so you would need to be available for those days of shooting. We could work with you on your availability.
•You don't need to have any prior understanding or appreciation of Feng Shui (skeptics are welcomed!)

1. An email confirming that you're interested in doing the show
(send to:, with subject line: FUN SHUI CANDIDATE: [YOUR NAME HERE])
2. Contact info: name, phone, email, address, distance from NYC, etc.
3. Photograph of you, & anyone else in your household
(if you don't have a photo, email ASAP anyway! We can get this from you later in necessary)
4. A brief bio about your personalities -- capturing yourself or your family in a nutshell!
(your story, your struggles, your quirks, what makes you unique...whatever you want to tell us!)
5. Write why you're deserving of a "Fun Shui Makeover"
6. Write how you feel about your current home: the room you like LEAST and why, the room you use MOST, and why
7. Describe 2 of the MOST important things that you'd passionately like to change about your life (ie. changes around : career, income & wealth, love & relationships, spirituality, creativity, children, healthier relationships with family, wisdom & knowledge, your reputation with friends, family or your community, fame, etc.)

My producer, Amelia, will be contacting you if we feel you would be a great candidate. She will arrange to meet with you in person to take a quick video interview and tour of your home (for me to study only) and give you more detailed information.

Send info to:, with subject line: FUN SHUI CANDIDATE: [YOUR NAME HERE]

We are wrapping up our casting for this first season, and are gathering names of candidates immediately and most likely will be wrapping up all the casting by January.

Don't miss out on this AMAZING opportunity to change your HOME, your LIFE, and to help EDUCATE (& entertain) people across the country about the amazing powers of Feng Shui.

EvolvingArts Interiors
Feng Shui Consulting • Interior Redesigning


one more try

“An opera begins long before the curtain goes up and ends long after it has come down. It starts in my imagination, it becomes my life, and it stays part of my life long after I've left the opera house.”
~ Maria Callas

You think you snuck past those exercises you didn’t like? Not so fast.
Missed a day ‘cause you were stuffing a turkey? You’re not off the hook yet.


Read over the November exercises (look under Archives on this site).

Which of the exercises was hardest for you? Why? Which triggered the most resistance or dread or numbness or apathy or anger or boredom or avoidance?

Pick one or two of the music exercises that seemed the least effective for you and try to tackle them one more time. Give yourself another shot at it and see what happens. Any movement? Results? Changes?

Commit to working at least one of these “uncomfortable” exercises in your artist toolbox. Why?

Why not.

November 28, 2006

best of the bunch

Years from now, after I'm gone, someone will listen to what I've done and know I was here. They may not know or care who I was, but they'll hear my guitars speaking for me.
~ Chet Atkins

November is nearly over. Just a few more days. Now it is time to take stock of what we’ve accomplished in this month. We devoted this month to music. We expanded our musical libraries with new genres and artists and we re-activated familiar songs. We used songs to inspire creation, as lyrics for scenes, we sang in the shower and danced in our living rooms.

As we move into December, let’s find a way to keep music a big part of our creative process.


Read over the exercises we’ve done in November. (Click on the Archives section of this site.)

Which of the exercises was easiest for you? Why? Which of the exercises was most effective at reaching a new level of awareness or experience? What have you learned about yourself? How has music enhanced your creative process?

Which of the exercises will you keep in your “toolbox” as an artist? Why?

Pick your BEST OF THE BUNCH - three or four of the music exercises that seemed most effective for you. Look them over carefully. Are they related to one another in some way? Think about WHY they may have worked for you and how you can use them on a more regular basis.

Commit to working them into your creative process. See what happens.

November 27, 2006

the one hour body of work

"Classical musicians do this all the time. They want perfection. So they piece things together. Eight bars of this and six bars of that. Glenn Gould said that with a recording he wanted to make perfect versions of pieces."
~ John Abercrombie

Okay, gang, this is the big Momma of an exercise. If you do this one, you’re going to end up with 10 new scenes, 10 new sketches or 10 new ideas so don’t be overwhelmed by it – just go with it!


Look through your new and improved musical library and pick 5 songs that seem like they might be related to one another in some way. By emotional resonance, narrative themes, energy, sound, just a feeling you have in your gut. Don’t sweat over this – pick the songs quickly without much thought.

Now, do the same thing to find 5 songs that seem completely unrelated to one another and to the first 5 songs you picked. You should have 10 songs total now.

Take those 10 songs and alternate them, put a “related” song first then follow with an “unrelated” until all 10 songs have been organized. Don’t think about it too much. Just put them in that order quickly.

Get your paper, your sketch pad, your paints, your computer – whatever you are working with. Press play on the first song.

Now, write, paint, sketch, draw, dance, design creating a piece/scene/dance/sculpture/outfit based on this particular song. You can only create for as long as the song goes so move quickly. Don’t over think it. Use the song as both your inspiration and timer.

When the next song begins, stop your work from the first song immediately and start a new piece, new scene, new monologue, new painting, new sketch. Again, use this new song to inspire and time your work. Don’t think. Don’t try to make connections. Just let your work flow without thought.

Do this for all 10 songs. By the end of it, your hands should feel like they might fall off! Tada! You’ve just outlined/sketched 10 mini-pieces.

How are they related? Are they at all? Is there a larger collection/story here?

November 26, 2006

ambient triggers

"Sound comes out of a life experience."
~ Bill Laswell

One of the things we can do to keep our subconscious working for us and focused on our current project is to create a conducive, ambient environment for that quiet part inside that is always mulling things over and turning them into tangible ideas.

One of the new things I’m using to keep the creative juices flowing, when I’m exhausted and have decided to do the dishes instead of writing, are the BBC Sound Effects discs from Nepal. I’m working with a new character “Julian” who is traveling to Nepal to find a child. The discs create ambient noise in my house and hopefully, will result in better writing on my part.


Go the library and check out any of the 60 BBC Sound Effects discs that might be related to your current work or go to and search over 250,000 tracks for tracks you can use to help enhance your work on a specific scene. There are tons of sites online that provide free downloads. Look around.

Think about using sound effects to not only support your current work but to inspire new ideas. Download 30 or 40 minutes of tracks and shuffle them in your IPod and then give yourself that 40 minutes to write or paint or design or choreograph incorporating and adapting to each new sound you hear.

Maybe it starts with a rainstorm and then you hear a doorbell and then a train. Try to find a way to connect these sounds, embed them in your work.

November 25, 2006

fall fest

Actor Clent Bowers, playwright Aurorae Khoo and myself at Fall Fest 2006 in Santa Monica, CA.

An excerpt from my play, "How Cissy Grew" was performed as part of the festival. The mini-production starred Josephine Hagerty, Ned Menoyo, Nick Mills and Betsy Reisz. It was directed by Casey Stangl.

A full reading of the play will be presented in April at The Odyssey Theatre in LA.


What happens when you turn a song into a monologue?

Baby, I know I sent you packin' but…I want you back. Livin' without you ain't no livin' at all. You know that ain’t easy for me to say. I miss your naggin', I miss hearing you gossip with your Mama on the phone. Baby, you know I didn’t mean to crash that coffee cup up against the bedroom wall. Without you here cryin’ and cussin’, I pace the kitchen every mornin', up til’ midnight walkin' the floor. Home ain't home anymore. Come on, honey, come home and spend my money. Come back, honey. I’ll let you take a swing at me. I only told Bobby how I sent you runnin' cause you didn't do me right but if you’d come back nobody else’d have to know. You could do me wrong. So come on, honey. Come home. Spend my money. Come back, honey, take a swing at me. Come back, come back, mama, come back.

It changes the whole tone of the song to remove the line breaks and turn it into a monologue. Changes the playfulness of the song into a rather menacing, pathetic character when you simply change the format of the piece.

What happened in your exercise?

lyrics to scene

Take Another Swing At Me
~ Randy Travis, Greatest Hits Vol 2

I know I sent you packin'
But now I want you back again
Livin' without you ain't no livin' at all
How I miss your naggin'
And your tongue a-waggin'
And the crash of the coffee cup
Up against the bedroom wall

In the kitchen early in the mornin'
Midnight walkin' the floor
Without your cryin', cussin' and your moanin'
Home ain't home anymore

So come on, honey
Come home and spend my money
Come back, mama, and take another swing at me

I told my friends how I sent you runnin'
Cause you didn't do me right
But if I looked up and saw you comin'
You could do me wrong all night

So come on, honey
Come home and spend my money
Come back, mama, and take another swing at me
Come back, mama, and take another swing at me
Come back, mama, and take another swing at me
Take another swing at me...


Pick the exercise below that best fits your current work. If this character doesn’t move you or is just too different from your aesthetic then find lyrics that speak to your current work and apply some of the exercises to your choice of song.

Create a chronological time line for the characters suggested by the lyrics above.

Draw, sketch or paint the living environment or world of the character.

Design an outfit for the character.

Use the lyrics of the song as inspiration for dialogue between two characters.

Storyboard the song as if creating a music video.

Write a song that tells the woman’s point of view.

Plan and cook a meal for the character.

Choreograph a dance for the character or the song you chose.

Create a specific shade of color that represents the character.

November 24, 2006

charlie and bob

Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?
People'd call, say, "Beware doll, you're bound to fall"
You thought they were all kiddin' you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin' out
Now you don't talk so loud
Now you don't seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal.
How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?
~ Bob Dylan

I had a screenwriting teacher named Charlie Purpura who forced us, a group of aspiring screenwriters studying three-act structure, to watch a documentary about Bob Dylan as part of our class.

I thought it was the stupidest thing. Why were we wasting our time watching a documentary about a singer, not even a writer, when we were supposed to be learning how to write a blockbuster movie that would make us millions to pay off our outrageous NYU student loan debt?

It’s only now that I understand that Charlie was trying to introduce all of us to the most condensed form of storytelling available to a writer. The narrative song. And that Bob Dylan had perfected that particular form of storytelling and turned it into not only art but a political movement.

Take a look at and randomly pick three or four songs. Track the narrative progression and see how complicated and densely compacted each line is in its simplicity.

This is a discussion about the tremendous freedom that can be found within the smallest of boundaries. How limits and structure can actually enhance creativity. How the smallest stroke of a brush, the stitch of a hem, the fold of the clay creates a tidal wave of emotional resonance.

Learning to simplify. Boiling down to truth.

And by the way, Charlie - we miss you. RIP.


Write a story-telling/narrative poem to the melody of a familiar song.

This can be a song that already has lyrics but you want to write new lyrics or it can be a song that has no words and you’ve always hummed along with it, making up a little story in your head.

Try to finish at least one verse and one chorus.


For anyone shooting a short film - I encourage you to check out Barbara's film on the IFC website which so simply and clearly tells a tiny but complete story. See below for more info:

Daily Creator B.C. writes:

"Visit and give Blocked a ranking of 10 (or 9.9 if you're mad at me for some reason). The films with the highest ratings will get airplay on IFC, so I would greatly appreciate your TEN ranking. Thank you in advance for your support. Best wishes for an awesome holiday season."

lusaka sunrise

Silas is the brother of my dear friend, Josephine. He's created a short film shot in Africa about how football coaches are teaching the boys about AIDS and HIV as part of their program. See below for more information.

Daily Creater J.H. writes:

"Dec. 1st is National AIDS day. My brother, film director Silas Hagerty, has created a short film called Lusaka Sunrise which makes me shiver. His goal is to get as many people to see this as possible to increase education and awareness on Dec. 1. Please watch the short and send this information out to your friends and family."

November 21, 2006

go live

“I love when one of my band members
plays something unexpected that inspires me.”
~ John Legend

One of the things I never do (and I know I should do it because I love it when I do it) is actually spend money on tickets to a performance of some sort. When so many of your peers and friends ask you to attend readings of their new plays or comp you for their shows, it’s easy to spend more time watching plays in their development process than seeing them in production.

Maybe as a painter, your “fun” time ends up being spent in galleries. As a novelist or poet, you always find yourself at readings. As an actor, you shift uncomfortably in your movie seat as you watch the performances of other actors instead of losing yourself in a film.

When the majority of “entertainment” time gets swallowed by what is, in truth, “work” time, it becomes clear it is actually time to go have so good, old, mindless, rock-out fun.


Find a band you want to see or a band you’ve never heard of, check the paper to find out what Broadway musicals are touring in your town. Maybe the opera? A symphony? A local open mike?

If you’re a performer or a musician and all of this still feels like work, then you need to find a ballet or a modern dance performance happening soon near you. Something musical that doesn’t trigger that competitive voice: “My band is better than...”

Find a live performance. Buy tickets. Set the date in stone.

November 20, 2006


“Musicals are, by nature, theatrical, meaning poetic, meaning having to move the audience's imagination and create a suspension of disbelief, by which I mean there's no fourth wall.”
~ Stephen Sondheim

You may hate them, you may love them but how much do you actually know about American Broadway musicals? Do you understand their structure? Can discovering more about the structure and components of a musical expand your own writing, costume design, sculptures, paintings, etc?

Visit the website: for a rather comprehensive look at the history of musicals.

Can the form serve you in some way? Can you twist and manipulate it to create a new way to express yourself?


Rent a DVD of a musical – doesn’t matter if it’s an oldie such as West Side Story or Singin’ In The Rain a more recent offering like Rent or Moulin Rouge. Maybe rent both the old version and updated version of a musical like Gypsy or Chicago and compare the two.

It can be a musical film or it can be an adapted from the stage version or it can be a taped performance of a live show, does not matter. Whatever you prefer.

As you are watching the movie/performance, pay attention to how the music, lyrics and movement work together to create a story. What does each particular song have to accomplish in order to drive the plot forward? How does the visual support the song?

Play the same scene again. This time, close your eyes and just listen to the song. Without the visual, what’s different?

Play the same scene again. This time, mute the volume and watch the visual. What can you tell just from the movements?

Play the same scene again. Mute the volume and instead, play a completely different song from your music library at the same time – what happens when you change the song? What happens if you add a rap song underneath the visuals of Evita?

Watch the whole move with a completely different soundtrack of songs. Was there any synchronicity? Were you able to create a narrative of seemingly random pieces?

visual tricks

Daily Creator L.P. writes:

Our friend, Shuji read about this in the Japanese newspaper: This Japanese psychologist who is studying "visual psychology" won an award recently. A website of his work is available - it is pretty amazing, even if you can't read the Japanese text that goes with it. The website images he's created use color and pattern to trick the eye into perceiving movement or shape (as in #3, which looks like a central sphere but is really a simple grid).

Here's the website address:

November 17, 2006

dance baby dance

“The dancer's body is simply the luminous manifestation of the soul.”
~ Isadora Duncan

How did the singing go? Let's move from the throat to the legs. Stop listening and start dancing!


Find a time today to turn up the music, pull the shades and dance with wild abandon. Don’t try to be pretty. Don’t try to choreograph a routine. Just dance to a song and let it take you over.

Let it be messy and silly and fun and absurd and completely unscripted. No aerobics moves – this isn’t exercise, no old cheerleader routine, no MTV moves – just you – the way YOU move organically.

Great songs for dancing:

Hey Ya! - OutKast
Why Can’t I Be You – The Cure
Toma – Lil John & Pitbull
Hash Pipe – Weezer
Get Ur Freak On – Missy Elliot
Pump It Up – Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Ruffneck – MC Lyte
Music – Madonna
Love To Love You Baby – Donna Summer
Dirty Old Town – David Byrne
Celebrity Skin - Hole

if you're in nyc

Producing 101: How To Get A Show Up, And An Audience In

The Summer Play Festival and The Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting (MOFTB) will present its fourth panel on December 9th. Titled Producing 101: How to get a show up – and an audience in, the panel is designed for aspiring theatre producers.

The panel will be moderated by Katherine Oliver, Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting. Panelists include Broadway and off-Broadway professionals Sharon Fallon (Independent Producer and co-Chair of the League of American Theatres and Producers' New Producers Alliance), Chad Beckim and Molly Pearson (co-Founders and Producers of the Partial Comfort Theatre Company), Seth Goldstein (Producer and General Manager of The Splinter Group) and Victor Lirio (Chief Artistic and Producing Officer of the Diverse City Theater Company).

The free panel will take place at the Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row, at 410 West 42nd Street (between 9th and 10th Avenues) on December 9th from 10:00am-11:30am. Guests should RSVP to by December 7th.

November 15, 2006

making a building sing

I met Anna Schuleit while at The MacDowell and was deeply, deeply moved by her work. Her site-specific installation, Habeas Corpus, filled the empty, destroyed halls of the Northampton State Hospital with the sound of The Magnificant/Harmonia Mundi. A song to release the souls of all those who had lived and died in the institution. A haunting and profoundly emotional experience. I encourage you to see the documentary made about her efforts.

If Anna can make a building sing, then you can make yourself sing.

More about Habeas Corpus:
More about Anna’s work:


“I never did consider myself a singer, I just let people watch me feel music and how it comes through me. Singing is just one way of getting it out of me.”
~ Erykah Badu

We’ve been listening to music and exploring new genres but now it is time to BECOME the music. It is one thing to be a passive participant. It is quite another to turn your body into the creative outlet.

Easiest way to jump in that frying pan? SING.


Listen to your favorite songs all day and start by humming along with the melody. If you don’t like to hum, then whistle. If you can’t whistle (and I’m a person who can’t whistle) then drum the beat on the table. Find a way to physically express the music beyond listening.

Here are a couple of voice warm ups you can do:

1. Sing “Me–Minny-Minny-Minny-May-Mah-Moooooooo” on a single note. Move up one note and sing the phrase again. Sing up and down the scales, note by note to push beyond your comfort range. Nice and easy. Lots of breath.

2. Blow air through your lips and let them flap like a horse. Now, hum from the top note of your range and let the sound slide down the scales as if a pebble falling from a cliff. Do this fast. Don’t linger on a single note. Now, combine the lip flapping and the scale sliding. Got it? Reverse it and flap and slide up. Combine and flap and slide up and down.

Once you are warmed up, put on your absolute fave and sing along, ALOUD. Uncomfortable? Sing in the shower. Sing in the car.

Just sing.

Suggestions for Songs to Sing Along:

Take Me With You – Prince
You Are My Sunshine – Norman Blake
Tide Is High – Blondie
Love Is A Battlefield – Pat Benatar
Wash Me Clean – k.d. lang
Coward of the County – Kenny Rogers
Into The Mystic – Van Morrison
Four Women – Nina Simone
We Will Rock You – Queen
All of Me – Louis Armstrong
Besame Mucho – standard
Arms of a Woman – Amos Lee

November 14, 2006

susan’s song pairs

two songs that evoke the same emotion

Mystery – Indigo Girls
World Spins Madly On – The Weepies

two songs that evoke opposing emotions

Honky Cat – Elton John
Hush, Hush, Hush – Paula Cole

two songs that represent her version/his version of a specific one-time event

Punk Rock Girl – The Dead Milkmen
Hard Headed Woman – Cat Stevens

two songs that bookcase the beginning and ending of a relationship

I Drove All Night – Cyndi Lauper
Time Is Running Out – Muse

two SONGS that seem like the older and newer version of each other

Crazy – Patsy Cline
Crazy – Gnarls Barkley

two ARTISTS that seem like the older and newer version of each other


Joan Baez
Michelle Shocked

two songs that seem related

Transatlanticism – Death Cab For Cutie
Breathe Me - Sia

two songs that have nothing to do with one another

The Show Must Go On – Queen
Cottage For Sale – Roberta Flack

two songs that remind you of the same person

Rock & Roll – Led Zeppelin
The Boys of Summer – The Ataris

two songs that remind you of that person’s enemy

Dueling Banjos – Eric Weissberg & Steve Mandrell
Black Betty – Ram Jam

two songs that remind you of a specific time of life

Happy House – Siouxsie & The Banshees
Friday I’m In Love – The Cure

two songs that represent your future

I Can See Clearly Now – Johnny Nash
Hanging By A Moment - Lifehouse

two songs you would want with you if stranded on an island

Feelin’ Alright – Joe Cocker (for the hopeful days)
Blue – Joni Mitchell (for the sad days)

two songs you never want to hear again

Spice Up Your Life – Spice Girls
I Shot The Sheriff – Eric Clapton

musical pairs

“Originality is simply a pair of fresh eyes.”
~ Thomas W. Higginson

Or, maybe, Originality is simply the ability to see a fresh pairing.

For the past few days, we’ve been expanding our music library. Let’s take some time today to find news ways to connect these new pieces of our growing puzzle.


Look through your music library, old and new. Create the following pairs of songs:

Two songs that evoke the same emotion
Two songs that evoke opposing emotions

Two songs that represent her version/his version of a specific one-time event
Two songs that bookcase the beginning and ending of a relationship

Two SONGS that seem like the older and newer version of each other
Two ARTISTS that seem like the older and newer version of each other

Two songs that seem related
Two songs that have nothing to do with one another

Two songs that remind you of the same person
Two songs that remind of that person’s enemy

Two songs that remind you of a specific time of life
Two songs that represent your future

Two songs you would want with you if stranded on an island
Two songs you never want to hear again

What happens when you start positioning songs against one another, side-by-side, playing them together, listening to them back to back? Do they tell a story? Evoke a certain narrative? Hear any themes? Is there a larger story to be told here?

I encourage you to attach your song pairings as comments to this blog entry. It would be great to see the results of this exercise.

November 13, 2006

visual artists you should know about

Daily Creators:

While we are spending this month exploring music as our inspiration, I wanted to also point out a few visual artists I met while at The MacDowell Colony who have work going up all over the world.

DOROTA MYTYCH (Current Show in Australia)

Dorota's work is so moving and deceptively beautiful. Look closer at everything she does. There are many, many layers to her work. The closer you look, the more you are involved. She has an exhibition in Australia, if anyone is traveling but you can visit her website to see her work:

MICHAEL ZHENG (San Francisco)

Michael has a site-specific installation in this year's Emergeshow. The piece is entitled "Media Shower (Pardon Me)" andexplores the architectural characteristics of the site, as well as the building's historical link to the Examiner newspaper and in turn,to Patty Hearst.

The show can be viewed until 11/19 and is found at 988 Market Street @6th (the Warfield Building) San Francisco. For more information:

Michael says, "Be sure to catch a paper strip as it flies down from above. For those of you who can't make it, I have some pictureson my website for the show including images from my performance at the opening."


Christine's artist book "Continuum" and accompanying prints are now available through the Margarete Roeder Gallery in NYC:

genre exploration part two

“Without music, life would be an error. The German imagines even God singing songs.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

How about these genres? Know them? Listen to them? If not, check them out.

Marching Bands
Maskanda – Zulu Traditional Music
Nederpop – Netherlands Pop Music
New Wave
Olonkho – Yakut Epic Songs
Outlaw Country
Pansori – Korean Folk Music
Peyote Song
Quan Ho – Vietnamese Vocal Music
Qawwali – Sufi Religious Music
Rake & Scrape
Sawt – Kuwait Urban Music
Shalako – Armenian Folk Dance
Speed Metal
Tanchaz – Hungarian Dance Music
Tuvan Throat Singing
Villanella – 16th Century Neapolitan Songs
Waila – Chicken Scratch
Work Songs
Zapin – Malaysian Pop
Zouk Funk


Find one song per genre listed above and listen to it. If you like it, buy it, download it, save it, whatever. If you have a strong reaction AGAINST a certain sound, pay attention to that too. What about it pushes you away?

How do these new songs relate to your current work? Can you incorporate them? Work against them? Use them to further a character, a plot point, a painting, your research?

November 12, 2006

genre exploration part one

“A jazz musician is a juggler who uses harmonies instead of oranges.”
~ Benny Green

Are you familiar with these genres of music?

Aak – Korean Court Music
Ambient Techno
Baila – Sri Lankan Dance Music
Christmas Carols
Dance Hall
Dhimotika – Traditional Greek Songs
Doo Wop
Easy Listening
Gagaku – Japanese Classical
Hajnali – Transylvanian Wedding Songs
Indie Rock
Italo Disco
Kecak – Balinese Monkeychant
Kundiman – Filipino Songs Westernized


Pick five to ten of the above listed genres of music that are the most unfamiliar to you. Research their most popular songs, artists and download the songs that strike your fancy. Why are you drawn to it?

If you have a strong reaction AGAINST a certain genre, pay attention to that too. What about it pushes you away?

How do these new genres relate to your current work? Can you incorporate them? Work against them? Use them to further a character, a plot point, a painting, your research?

November 11, 2006

your exact opposite

“The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth.”
~ Niels Bohr

As artists, and we don’t like to admit this aloud, we often consider ourselves to be trendsetters, different, more courageous, less bound by society, less restricted in our thoughts and feelings, more motivated, more driven, more open-minded.

But are we really?

Think about your last five or six pieces, stories, plays, songs, dresses, quilts, movies, blogs, etc. Are you repeating yourself? Are you safe within a certain voice? Are you pushing the boundaries of who you are as an artist?


Pick a style of music that seems to be the exact opposite of everything you like, everything you are currently inspired by or using to support your creative process.

If you are currently using music from the 40s to inspire your new collection or play or painting, find out what happens if you try to add an element of the 80s to what you are doing.

If you are listening to classical music and have created a character who is a professional chamber musician then put that character into a hip hop club and see what happens.

If you personally are drawn to music with a strong melody or narrative line, maybe it’s time to explore atonal choral selections.

Identify what type of music would qualify as your exact opposite. Find it. Use it.


L.P. writes:

“Last night I watched the movie "Touch the Sound." Afterwards, while cleaning the kitchen, I noticed I had an extremely heightened sense of sound. Each knife and spoon, clatter of plate, and ding of glass contributed to a lovely kitchen concerto, which captivated me. Here is the blurb about the movie:

Extraordinary solo percussionist Evelyn Glennie is the subject of this documentary, which explores the connections between human sensation, time, sound and rhythm. Glennie, an accomplished musician who's been deaf since age 8, is so sensitive to vibration that she essentially hears through the sense of touch. Here, she's captured in improvisational solo and group performances in intriguing spaces, from a New York City rooftop to a zen garden.

I recommend the film, with the suggestion to make time to listen to life afterwards.”

November 10, 2006

a sense of place

“I think actors sometimes don’t give their characters
a sense of place.”
~ Kevin Bacon

I have no idea what Kevin Bacon means in this quote. Is it an actor’s job to develop the sense of place or is it the writer’s job? Is the viewer responsible for understanding a painter’s sense of place or is that the painter’s job? Does a composer have the responsibility to develop place within his melody? Does that burden fall to a director or a scenic designer or a costume designer? What is this “sense of place” – how does an artist establish it, use it, need it? Can music help us establish a sense of place?

Who knew that Kevin Bacon was such a philosopher?


Pick a specific place – such as a country, an island, a city, a house, a town, a club, a state, a region – and explore its music.

Perhaps you pick Jamaica and spend the day listening to Bob Marley. Maybe you pick the Louisiana bayou and spend the day researching Zydeco. Maybe you loved Puerto Rico so download some salsa. Maybe your childhood home always had classical music playing in the kitchen. Use that as your inspiration.

What is the music that defines a specific place you are writing about, singing about, composing for, painting, sculpting, shooting, designing for, inspired by?

Also, we’ve had some suggestions from two of our Daily Creators. Two websites that might be helpful to everyone during our music exploration:

November 09, 2006

a look at me

the music of an era

“It doesn’t really matter what era I’m in.
Because I haven’t ever really felt quite in an era,
I don’t feel out of one.”
~ Robert Wyatt

The music of an era is the voice, soul and memory of a very specific time period. The 50s brought the birth of rock & roll, the 60s brought civil disobedience manifested through folk songs, the 70s ushered in the decadence and frivolity of disco.

But what about the music from the Civil War, the Big Band era of the 20s and 30s, the Baroque Age, the Romantic Era, the Middle Ages. What about music from a World’s Fair? Not only a specific era but a specific event.


Pick a time period, a decade, an era or an event and listen to the music all day long.

Research the hair styles, clothing design and big news stories that happened during that period.

What were the scandals? Who were the personalities?

Could any of those stories be updated to make an interesting narrative for now?

Could any of those images or songs be used in your current work?