The piece of music that has inspired me to make my first post since late last August is called “Starting Again”; perfect, no?
Here’s the story. Per my usual Saturday morning routine, I was nursing a mug of coffee and listening to Weekend Edition Saturday. As regular listeners know, NPR plays brief snippets of music between its news segments. This morning, the music that followed a report called “What It Means For Art When A Museum Rejects Money From The Sackler Family” was barely 10 seconds long but its effect was immediate: I needed to know what it was, and needed to hear more, ASAP. I’m sure I’ve made similar comments in earlier posts, but this phenomenon truly fascinates me. What is it that’s happening in the brain at a moment like that? How is it that a fleeting sequence of notes can trigger such intense feelings of connection and desire to hear more? What neurons are firing? What neurotransmitters are being released? Whatever it is, I’m just glad it happens. (Equally intriguing is the fact that many people, perhaps you, dear reader, will experience absolutely nothing in the way of an emotional response to the music and simply think, “Meh.” That’s part of what makes life interesting…vive la difference!) (Side note: someday I’d love to be PET scanned while listening to a favorite piece of music and see where my brain lights up.)
But I digress.
In just this manner, NPR has introduced me to other wonderful music over the years, and I knew that, once Weekend Edition Saturday was over, the NPR web site would post the key information for each music ‘button’, as the snippets are called: the name of the piece and the artist. Until just about an hour ago, I’d never heard of Stan Forebee, but I’m now looking forward to exploring his catalog. He’s originally from the Netherlands, but is now based in Australia. He started taking piano lessons from his father at age four, and started writing his own music at 14. He’s dabbled in hip hop and electronica, but as his Spotify bio notes, he’s “all about the jazz”; one of the three albums he released last year, Jazz Sessions, includes samples of Bill Evans, a major influence.
The piece that hijacked me this morning, “Starting Again”, appears on his 2016 EP, Reflections. I won’t even begin to try to describe all the different things that are happening in this music, only that its three minutes and 26 seconds convey, to me, a feeling of serenity, and of a kind of bliss. See what you think. (One of the reasons I shared the piece via Soundcloud rather than, say, YouTube or an mp4 file, is that you can see the comments that Soundcloud listeners have made at different points; my favorite, at 0:28, is “yeeeeah“).
Forebee appears to enjoy alternative headgear. There’s his getup on the cover of the Reflections EP, and there’s this ornithologically-themed choice:
The NPR story that led me to Forebee is worth listening to, and if you’re not familiar with the Sackler family and why a museum might reject a gift from them, check out this excellent New Yorker article by Patrick Radden Keefe from 2017. The title: “The Family That Built an Empire of Pain”.