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The Daily Song: 365 More Meditations on Music

Chapter 1

By Jim GavenPublished 2 years ago 11 min read

Inspired by Ryan Holiday's book, 'The Daily Stoic', The Daily Song: 365 More Meditations on Music is a humble, insightful, and educational exercise in dissecting quotes by famous people regarding singing and their feelings about it, applying it to real-life experience. Designed to read and reflect on one page at a time for an entire year, feel free to sit back and relax while improving your quality of life. This is the first 10 days of the Chapter 1, which is yet to be titled.

January 1st

"By the time a soprano hits those lush high notes, her vocal cords are thwacking together 1,000 times per second, transforming a burst of air from her lungs into music powerful enough to shatter glass.” -Usama Rasheed

Truly remarkable. When you think about singing in this kind of descriptive, visceral way, it makes you appreciate everything going on within a couple body parts to produce musical notes through the act of singing. It is both chaotic and controlled, powerful and beautiful. 1000 times per second, too? That sounds like the act of singing would perceivably hurt your throat every time you open your mouth to do so. But, it doesn’t. This just proves that the body has an amazing way of dealing with pain and healing itself on the spot in real-time. And, to shatter glass with the sound of the human voice? It doesn’t seem possible, right? Well, it is, and has been done. Of course, you have to sing with extreme power and at an incredibly high range for a longer period of time than usual, but it has happened. There is only one word to describe all of this: miraculous. Singing is a miracle. Let us be thankful and appreciative of this miracle we get to experience ourselves every day if we want. All you have to do is sing yourself or put on any electronic device where someone is singing to witness it.

January 2nd

"I grew up in a community that was bilingual. I've done it for a while, singing in both languages."

-Jon Secada

This is great! To be able to sing in more than one language makes you essentially unstoppable. Why? Because if you’re able to do so, then the language barrier is broken down. Music is the universal language anyway, so it transcends traditional language just by its inherent nature. How cool is that? When we do something that is transcendent, we make ourselves an invaluable asset to not only the local community but to the community at large, namely society. So, if you are bilingual, or even trilingual (or more), embrace it! You’ll be able to dazzle people with your vocal prowess, making it easier to connect with anyone anywhere in a deeper way right from the get-go. In essence, you open up the door to more possibilities when you are able to meet more people on their level. Singing yet again for the win! 

January 3rd

"I think singing, when it's done well, is extremely natural. It feels great."

-Renee Fleming

Couldn't have said it better myself. Whenever we do anything in life that is natural, the product or end result tends to sound and/or look great. It's when we try to force something to happen that the end result tends to sound and/or look out of place or out of sorts. Think about it--it's like the idea of putting a square peg in a round hole and visa versa. It just doesn't quite fit the right way, no matter how much you try to squeeze it in. The same goes for singing. When we try to go beyond what our natural singing voice is, we may be stretching our vocal chords out for a bit, which is a good thing. We always want to be improving and becoming a better version of ourselves. However, there is a line where it can go too far, and you start to sound like a dying cat, a car screeching its tires, and the like. Sometimes we have to push past what our natural abilities are in order to find out where the limit is in our voice range. This is called self-discovery, and is an inherently good thing. As human beings, we want to be aware of our faults and flaws as well as our skills and talents. It's good to know both, so we can work on our weaknesses as well as continue to hone our strength's to become even more powerful than they were before. All in all, when we do something natural, it feels great not only to us but to anyone watching or listening as well. 

January 4th

"But enough joking. I am singing. This is all my life.”

-Placido Domingo

I love it! Get right to the point. Enough playing around, Placido essentially says. He wants to get down to the serious matter of it all--the fact that his focus, his energy, and his time and talent is being put towards singing. For as much as singing can be a lighthearted affair, it can also be very serious to the person who is dedicating their life to the pursuit of becoming one, and then becoming a better version of themselves through it. It's a daily practice of warm-ups, trying to match your vocals to an already existing melody, singing all different kinds of harmonies, and everything else in between. There's a lot that goes into it. Some people have the natural God-given talent where they don't have to try that hard to sound good, while others have to really work at it day in and day out to hone, adapt, and improve upon their skills. It is most certainly an entire life if you so choose to go down that route.

January 5th

"There is no good singing, there is only present and absent."

-Jeff Buckley

I love the sentiment behind this quote, because it removes the idea of judgment from the equation. If we think in terms of no good or bad singing existing, then there is no need to make fun of or give a compliment based on the result of the performance. In this sense, it would be like everyone is a good singer or no one is a good singer. The fact of the matter is that it doesn't matter if everyone is good or no one is good. Rather, if we think about singing, and other things in life, as something or someone being fully present in the moment, or fully absent in the moment, it is more accurate and non-judgmental. For instance, if someone is really into what they are doing, the passion, the joy, the power, the melodic vocal prowess will inevitably be heard and have its presence known. It would be obvious to see this person is fully present in what they are doing. Conversely, if someone is going through the motions, singing in less than a 'give-it-your-all' kind of way, the notes will most certainly fall flat, miss the mark, and it will be easy to see and hear that this person is not fully in the moment. In fact, they may be withdrawn, removed, or absent from the performance. Try this exercise out in other areas of your life, and you may find it is a better way to think about being fully present or fully absent in the moment. If it is up to me, I'd want to be fully present in the moment. 

January 6th

"The Civil Rights Movement also reaffirmed me as a singer. It taught me that singing was not entertainment, it was something else."

-Bernice Johnson Reagon

Well said, Bernice. Well said. Singing is not just entertainment. There is an element of that, of course, but it is so much more than just that. Why does anyone sing, first and foremost? Because it makes you feel good. It makes you feel light on your feet. It makes you want to take on the world. Now, as singing pertains to the Civil Rights Movement, it did and continues to do wonderful things. 

Singers used the act and art of singing to make a statement. They would sing and march in unison with other people for a just cause. This kind of singing brings people together for a common meaning or purpose, and, as we all know, there is strength in numbers. Singing is inevitably louder than talking, so many people singing make their presence known for longer periods of time. Singing can also be used as a means of creative expression for oneself, but also to practice the freedom of speech and expression. And, last, but certainly not least, singing has a real tendency to drive away hate and foster love. This is where the real transformation can come for people. 

January 7th

"When I'm singing I try not to be a singer with a capital S. I just try to get it out so I feel comfortable with it."

-Robert Wyatt

I love this! It's not about the titles or trying to prove oneself. What it's about is singing for the pure enjoyment and sake of singing. It's the act of doing something because you love it, and not because of the results, accolades, prestige, glitz, or glamor that could come along with it. When we do anything for the right reason(s), we are essentially removing our ego's from the situation. And, this is the best thing we can do in the end. 

January 8th

"My energy to sing, I get it from my singing. Singing was not a reason to make a living. This is the only thing I wanted to do."

-Nana Mouskouri

This is a great example of a positive feedback loop. In order to have the energy to sing, one must start the action of singing first so that the forward momentum has the ability to carry you into the act of more singing...and more singing...and more singing. It's brilliant, and true! 

The fact that Nana acknowledges that 'singing was not a reason to make a living' is a great observation and revelation for someone to have as a professional recording artist and performer like her. Why? Because it means that she wasn't doing it for the wrong reasons. Her intentions weren't to 'become rich and famous' by singing. Her intention with singing was much more real, organic, and pure since she states it 'is the only thing she wanted to do'. When you have a genuine interest in pursuing something, the motivation is not usually money. After all, when you do something solely for money, then the joy tends to get sucked out of it. Time tends to drag on while doing it, and you feel as if meaning and purpose has been lost in the shuffle. Let this be a reminder to us all that we owe it to ourselves to do something because we enjoy the act of doing it, we enjoy the process of figuring something out (figuring various things out over time), and, just maybe, we enjoy making others feel good while we do it as well. This last reason isn't essential, but it can give us a sense of meaning and purpose like we are connected to our fellow brothers and sisters on the Earth.  

January 9th

"It's okay to spin around and around in the same place. Just so long as you're singing your heart out.
THAT's what life's all about."

-Chica Umino 

Life is about living loud and proud! And, this is exactly what singing your heart out entails--putting all you have into what you are doing for the sake of the song in a powerful, memorable performance. If we pour all the energy, time, and focus we have into singing, then we won't have to worry if we gave it our best. We can rest assured knowing we absolutely tried our best, so we have to be happy with whatever comes of that result or achievement wise. The same goes for living life. If we pour all the energy, time, and focus we have into living the best kind of life we envision for ourselves, then we won't have to worry if we left anything on the field at the end of it. We can rest assured knowing we lived our lives to the absolute best of our abilities, and will have no regrets because of our efforts.  

January 10th

"That to me was really, certainly, the gateway into discovering John, ... I feel I found the speaking voice through the singing voice."

-Joaquin Phoenix

What a great way to look at a situation--by studying one part or area in such detail so as to best extrapolate the thing you are looking to find and then copy/replicate. It might seem counterintuitive to find a speaking voice through a singing voice, but not with Johnny Cash. Joaquin is referring to his role playing the southern country star in the movie, 'Walk the Line' here, and he couldn't be more right about his approach. Since Johnny sings as if he is talking, a sort of 'talk-singing', if you will, the two almost go hand in hand. All you have to do is put a little bit of a quiver or shakiness in your throat when singing a song in the style of Johnny Cash, and there's his singing voice. His speaking voice is very similar to this, so it's a minor adjustment or tweak to achieve the desired effect/result. The moral of the story is to not overthink it. Sometimes it really is that easy. Let us remember that there is genius in simplicity, and this is a perfect example of that idea.  

Hope you enjoyed this taste of 'The Daily Song'. I am hoping to publish it in its entirety by June of this year with an audiobook to follow, so definitely be on the lookout for it in a few months.

Thank you so much for the support :)


About the Creator

Jim Gaven

My mission is to write inspirational stories that make you feel good about yourself, put a smile on your face, and think of things in a different way.

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