“Harumphingly” & other English words I learned recently

New English words I learned recently. Learning a language is a continuous experience. Everyday I’m surprised! Like:

Insofar sounds very formal, right? I’d be happy to find a moment in a conversation when I could use it, alone or with “insofar as”, which in French is “dans la mesure de”.

Lackadaisical is apathetic but sound so silly, right? I DO wonder what is the color of it. Is it casual or nonchalant, is it lazy? Blithe, blasé? Can lackadaisical be voluntary, sarcastic? Cool?

Trespass is a common word but I really can remember it, each time I have to check.

Call time is maybe “ladies and gentlement we close the store!”, but it’s also “to say stop”, right? To announce the end.

Onus as a law word, but also obligation, responsability. Is it common?

Make do for “be content with what is available”. In French we say “faire avec” : to make with.

To doll up, oh I love this one so much! We have great verbs for this one. Bichonner is when you doll up a friend, you help her. Se pomponner is based on the noun “pompon” (yes the decorative fluffy ball). It’s something like “to pompon myself”.

Tryingness (The state or condition of being trying (arduous, difficult to endure) sounds difficult to use.

To scatter, disperser, éparpiller, with all the rest : across, on, over.

Harumphingly was amazing to discover. Harumph is maybe the way French say “Pfff”. And I wonder if I could say I’m an harumpher.

Snug, I wonder how come it could mean “warm cumfortable” AND “tight-fitting”. So “a dress fits very snug” can be something to say? To fit snugly? I love the “form fitting” color of it though. We say “épouser à merveille” for this marvellous dress : “It spouses you at marvel”, somthing like that.

So there’s that gives “alors voilà” (so there). Urban Dic says : “A phrase said after describing something strange, awkward, ironic, hilarious, crazy, or otherwise profound.” Good!

Thanks for reading!

Photography: “La Dordogne”, a French river

Photography: “La Dordogne”, a French river. How to photograph a river? She’s like the lady you’re in love with: she’s complex, multiple, given, elusive, clear, dark, changing and marvellous. What do I choose? The light? Water? Trees? Rocks? Here are 14 pictures of La Dordogne, near the little town of Carsac.

Photography: The roofs of Sarlat, Périgord, France

Sarlat-La-Canéda is a medieval town in France, near Bordeaux. Yes, it’s a good place to drink wine and eat meals made of ducks and geese (confits and all).

Today I choose to show you the roofs. I took many pictures thus you’ll see streets, forests, rivers and… the cemetery.

I added a little Poulenc because it’s my little obsession of the time.

Have a good day!

Rivière, French painter

Rivière, what a fantastic name to wear, right? Henri Rivière (1864-1951) was a French painter. He’s a bit forgotten today in France. Etchings, lithographies in the “Japonism” manner (cf Hiroshige).

It’s very… French, and you’ll need a little Poulenc music to listen to (I provide a link at the end) and some Paul Valéry poems too.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Rivi%C3%A8re_(painter)

Have a nice day!

Music Chronicles 6: Tricky Creatures & The Old London Voice

I went on using poems for music (do you have some for me I could use?). Today: Verlaine!

Léandre le sot,
Pierrot qui d’un saut
De puce
Franchit le buisson,
Cassandre sous son
Capuce,

Arlequin aussi,
Cet aigrefin si
Fantasque
Aux costumes fous,
Ses yeux luisants sous
Son masque,

— Do, mi, sol, mi, fa, —
Tout ce monde va,
Rit, chante
Et danse devant
Une belle enfant
Méchante

Dont les yeux pervers
Comme les yeux verts
Des chattes
Gardent ses appas
Et disent : « A bas
Les pattes ! »

— Eux ils vont toujours ! —
Fatidique cours
Des astres,
Oh ! dis-moi vers quels
Mornes ou cruels
Désastres

L’implacable enfant,
Preste et relevant
Ses jupes,
La rose au chapeau,
Conduit son troupeau
De dupes ?

Colombine

English Translation here: https://www.oxfordlieder.co.uk/song/5112

Again, a walking bass. I love them! Dong dong dong dong dong. I tried to add less mechanical music. I added string chords, but interrupted them sometimes. I tried another style for the end, a long stroll of bass string going nowhere…

The pictures I took along a long walk strangely fit the song: creatures. Birds. Drawings. Things.

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For this one I found an old voice from the London docks, with a bell, announcing something.

The game is the Moby one: add drums, JP, bass, strings, saxes and whistles. Then it’s a puzzle around this loop: adding things/cutting things. I should chorus but nope. I should double the bass with somme upper pianos… maybe.

I stole some pictures to clip it.

Have a great day!

Music Chronicles 5: The Past & The Little Queens

I’m casual, I know. When I compose I don’t finish. I draft. I need a producer!

Also, I sing and I shouldn’t. But well, I’m the only singer around 🙂

Also, I build films with a few pictures and the Ken Burns effect. I don’t want to finish, it’s boring. Voilà.

These days I have fun with poems.

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“Aimez-vous le passé ?” means “Do you love the past?”. I googletranslated the poem for you:

Do you like the past And dream of stories Evocative With erased outlines?

Old rooms Widows of steps Who smell all low Iris and amber;

The pallor of the portraits, The worn-out relics That the dead have kissed, Dear, I would like

May they be dear to you, And talk to you a little Of a dusty heart And full of mystery.

“Veuve de pas” : widowed of steps, meaning “deprived of people walking in these rooms”.

I found pictures I took in Cabourg ten years ago in Normandy (yes it’s near the D-Day beaches), hop, iMovied.

The music is an exercise about obsession: there’s no change, no chorus, it “walks” all the time.

I wrote the bass after hearing “In the Army Now” by Status Quo : dong, dong, dong, dong, adding a tatatatata guitar over it.

The game was to weaveknit chords under this walk. I added little dissonnances in the piano, it’s a bit irritating for ears and all – but now so much. Here it is:

Aimez-vous le passé

Aimez-vous le passé
Et rêver d’histoires
Évocatoires
Aux contours effacés ?

Les vieilles chambres
Veuves de pas
Qui sentent tout bas
L’iris et l’ambre ;

La pâleur des portraits,
Les reliques usées
Que des morts ont baisées,
Chère, je voudrais

Qu’elles vous soient chères,
Et vous parlent un peu
D’un coeur poussiéreux
Et plein de mystère.

Paul-Jean Toulet, Chansons

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I wanted to try another one, so I googled “dance in poetry” to find this “Dansez, Petites Reines” (Dance, Little Queens). I found a possible translation (I did not use the whole poem) which changes things a bit:

THE GRANDFATHER'S SONG. 

Dance, little Queens, 

All in a ring ; 
Loves to Lasses 

Sweet kisses will bring. 

Dance, little Madcaps, 

All in a ring ; 
The crabbed old mistress 

Will grumble and fling. 

Dance, little beauties, 

All in a ring ; 
The birds will applaud you 

With clapping of wing. 

Dance, little Fairies, 

All in a ring ; 
With corn-flower garlands 

And fair as the spring. 

Dance, little women, 

All in a ring ; 
Each Beau to his Lady 

Says some pretty thing. 

The game here was to alternate a crappy vintage sound and a more luxurious one in the choruses (voices and instruments). I had fun with the bass line, and linked parts with a golden trumpet.

I found images with ducks for YouTube, because why not, right?

Here’s a remastered version: https://soundcloud.com/user-894673824/dansez-les-petites-reines-24-04-2021-14-54-mastered

Good day!

Dansez, les petites reines,
Toutes en rond.
Les amoureux sous les frênes
S’embrasseront.

Dansez, les petites folles,
Toutes en rond.
Les bouquins dans les écoles
Bougonneront.

Dansez, les petites belles,
Toutes en rond.
Les oiseaux avec leurs ailes
Applaudiront.

Dansez, les petites fées,
Toutes en rond.
Dansez, de bleuets coiffées,
L’aurore au front.

Dansez, les petites femmes,
Toutes en rond.
Les messieurs diront aux dames
Ce qu’ils voudront.

Some 2020 Pearls of Avant-Garde

I explored, methodically, the Quietus Top 100 Albums of 2020 (https://thequietus.com/articles/29302-the-quietus-top-100-albums-of-2020-norman-records), and found a couple of things I could love.

( thequietus.com ) is a magazine about intelligent music, movies and some other arts like graphic novels or architecture. It’s typically the chest-like website, full of possible discoveries.

Many (most of the) musics I don’t like here, but it’s always interesting, even when it’s awful or ridiculous. My brain is playing like a kid with colorbricks, analyzing how the artists push the cork a little or much too far.

Even the texts, the critics, are cool. Vocabulary gives a hint for each musician. “an album designed to both inspire calm as well as disrupt it” makes me want to listen.

What I selected here is, I agree, the less avant-garde possible. My pearls, emeralds and nuggets come often like this, digging, finding

I’ve been amazed by Hen Ogledd (26), who begins like Robert Wyatt then develop a… splendid pleasure of making music (I’m probably influenced by his great eyes). The most adorable guy of the list?

Katie Gately (49 )surprised me with her Waltz. I loved, immediately, the way she marked the first beat of this dance. Then, it’s a crescendo, weaved with surprises, sounds, breaks. It puts her into the territory of Björk, Kate Bush, even Dead Can Dance. Lyricism! Modulation under a bridge, responding voices, changes, this climbing. Fascinating, right?

I found another clip (same musician), which frightens me a bit more, but the clip is so fantastic that I had to keep listening. She explores limits, between pleasure and chaos. This music is like… growing like she’s alive.

I listened the broken things of Malibu Liquor Store, the swarming The Homesick (try The Pawing), the floating pedal steel guitar or Susan Alcorn, the acid synth loops of Lorenzo Senni, the rotating sickness of Sex Swing, the laments of Keeley Forsyth, Nadine Shah, the strange clips of UKAEA, the silly repeats of Horse Lords.

Then Memnon Sa (76 ), an insisting music with synths. Simple and haunted.

Mary Lattimore (35)? Quiet, but neve too much (which is always hard to achieve). Try Ana Roxanne too.

Thanks for reading!

Next to this I found two names you can explore : Chapelier Fou & Olafur Arnalds. Good day!

“The Most Strenuous Intercourse”: Conversation

I just read a book from Michael Herr, an American writer and war correspondent, who wrote Dispatch, a great book about the Vietnam war.

He wrote a book, a “personal biography” about Stanley Kubrick. He worked for him for years as a writer (he co-wrote Full Metal Jacket).

Kubrick was exhausting, very intelligent, and constantly calling people on the phone. He was living near London but spent many hours a day talking to friends and collaborators. He stayed American all his life and stayed connected to his country all the time.

Herr writes that when Kubrick ended a conversation (called by him a “strenuous intercourse”) with you, he knew everything about what you had in your head about a subject. Devouring your brain…

  • Well, I didn’t know this word, “strenuous“, so I found: energetic, vigorous, requiring strength. Also: unremitting, dogged, tenacious. OK!
  • But “intercourse“, really? For me, it was about sex only, but I found: discussion, and this example: “The two businesses had a lot of intercourse over the years”. OKeyyyy!

I ADORE this ambiguity. If in this blog I look for structures, I can’t agree more:

A great conversation is very similar to great sex.

And it installs an “instant roof” over both persons.

  • Listening
  • Attention to the other
  • Games
  • Attempts
  • Giving
  • Deciding together
  • Ecstasy
  • Progress
  • Talking
  • Connecting
  • Intimacy
  • Exploring
  • Laughing
  • Staying silent together
  • Pauses
  • Going fast
  • Changing rhythms
  • Surprises
  • Dancing
  • Ideas
  • Segments
  • Communication
  • Learning
  • Listening!

Thanks for reading!

“Intentions and Elegance”: Overthinking about Art

I read a good book about a… harpsichord player. I found ideas. Here they are.

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The easy question is “What is it?”. Another question is “What does that mean?”, therefore “What does the artist want to say to us?”. This is a totally higher question, right? Instead of the work, you ask about the artist’s mind, and their will. Does art need a meaning, after all?

Where should we, instead of focusing of things in front of us, focus on what the maker wants?

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If you are a Bach (b 1685) specialist and you want to study or play Mozart (b 1762), you have to make a jump in time and music, and Mozart will appear very modern. But if you come from 19th Century, it will feel like a loss.

From where will you come, to study this or that?

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If you’re enthusiastic, do you master your work?

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Does elegance need the existence of another person? What about the idea telling that real elegance consists in not getting noticed. And Balzac says that to reveal some economy of means is inelegant.

It’s from Latin “elegans”: who knows how to choose.

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A pretentious simplicity, does that exist?

Goethe : When an intention is too visible, it irritates

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Who plays – and how – the tango of strength/delicacy?

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Purity of the sensation, or of the landscape?

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When you touch the harpsichord‘s key, the note appears, that simple. There’s no possibilities of ppp or fff. It’s “the note”, always the same intensity, it’s a yes or no thing.

Without any possibity of nuances, of touch, the subtleties must come from elwhere: the phrases.

Where else do we have this?

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Deep understanding” and at the same time, “spontaneity” (or precision/passion). Both. Same time.

Where? Sex? Conversation? Acting? What kind of skill is this?

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When a rule emerges, its exceptions appear at the same time.

In French: “Déroger à la règle” (The English “to contravene” and “to infringe” sound “to go against”, to fight, but the French one sounds “to take a hidden door”, to depart from, to invent my own path).

An artist who knows enough rules to depart from them: to explore/invent.

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What is a work of art with simultaneity of significations? Sorrow and courage at the same time; violence and sweetness; pride and vanity. What kind of richness is that?

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To admit” (it’s the same in French, admettre) is a curious verb: to confess, to acknowledge, to allow entry, to accept validity, to place, to permit, to conceide or recognize.

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A style emerges, how?

  1. Origin.
  2. Development.
  3. Blossoming.
  4. Refinement.
  5. Saturation.

Where? Examples?

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When can’t we prevent aggravation (or stop worsening)?

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Baudelaire: The restless crowd, whipped on by pleasure

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Do you produce differently (by other means) or something else?

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Is the existence of the past Law, or Force?

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Acknowlegment or recognition? Even gratitude, if you push?

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Which one is the most interesting? Beauty created by nature, or beauty created by men?

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Could you go that far, without the resistance of it?

Thanks for reading!

And what about Japanese Post Rock?

It is the moment to explore Japanese Post Rock because why not.

So what is “Post Rock”? Let’s Wiki:

Post-rock is a form of experimental rock characterized by a focus on exploring textures and timbre over traditional rock song structures, chords, or riffs. Post-rock artists are often instrumental, typically combining rock instrumentation with electronics.

Good! The tool here is easy:

  • Find a field you don’t know at all
  • Explore a micro-part of it

It can be Hungarian jewelry, or Italian photography, and then you choose a century, or a single artist…

The game here is to listen to things, randomly, like a kid picks up shells on a shore. Here we go:

A Picture of Her is a bit boring with their jazz-rock, technical and with a always-the-same guitar sound.

Anoice: Quiet music with piano, sometimes a little dissonant, sometimes a little “japanish”. Climates, like sad movie music. Some violin. I like it, and some colors are interesting, but… too shy.

Behind the Shadow Drops: simplistic naive melancholia is terrible, right? It is! There’s a laziness, here. Dumb ideas stretched for too long. Not a single harmonic spark. Shame!

Floating in Space has the same problem, but it’s a little better. Too much sugar, and no colors. I couldn’t find a single good track.

Gargle is mildly more interesting, because of the accordion. But, well, sigh…

Kukangendai is Math Rock (a subdivision of Post Rock, more complex). This music is pulsating, it’s like watching fabric, or machines. I find it boring but interesting. Brain, brain, brain. No body.

Lite is much, much better. They’re good, fast, intellingent, complex :

Mono seems the most prolific band on this list. Plenty of albums, between prog rock and film music. They take their time, and they like big badaboum crescendoes. It sounds sometimes like Joe Hisaishi. It’s too conventional for me, but many people love them! Here’s a best of :

Mouse on the Keys, two keyboards and a drummer! More dynamic, more jazz, I like it with a but, always. A bit too… disheveled, maybe?

Nabowa? Cool! :

Ovum seems to like loud music and electric guitars, hmmm.

Qujaku, dark, intense, too much.

Toe, math rock, it knits! :

World’s End Girlfriend, the lone young genius type. First album, 15 years old. Devilish energy in the 1st vid, and a cool waltz to finish this page.

Thanks for reading! What did you like here?

(For this last one wait until 5:20 for a cloud of fantastic harmonies)

Second One Aside

My daughter told me that she wanted to create “another” Instagram account to post, this time, only good pictures, like according to the ancient laws of this social media, which was: one picture (not many), square, no video, no story.

It is a tool for this page, right? I call it on the spot : “Second One Aside”.

  • You have a house, a home, but you rent a small apartment downtown, to write. It’s cool, alone, quiet, and in the middle of the city life.
  • You read a great big book, but you begin a small essay aside, to make the first one last longer, to make a pause, to breathe, to invent the pleasure to go back.
  • You’re married, but you have a lover or a friend you like to walk with because it’s another body – another brain.
  • You have a passion, a hobby, but you have another one aside. As a photographer, you paint, for example. The other craft brings you joy, a distraction, but also teaches you other things, it… enhances you.

It’s infinite! Where’d you apply that? Where’s/what’s the “second one aside”, and what could it bring?

Thanks for reading!

What did I shazam recently?

What did I shazam recently?

Most of the time, I don’t listen to my Shazams afterward. I did it because of “an element”, a sound, an idea, something which made my eyebrow upping up. If I “like” the YouTube film, I’ll find them back one day. Maybe.

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S. Decoster, because it was the end credit music of a great quirky French movie called “Perdrix” (“The Bare Necessity” in English). Nothing great here but I Shazamed it though, probably because the movie was hilarious and balanced.

The loopy “Je veux être à vous” means “I want to be yours”, BUT as you know, French has two “you”, the you for the persons you know well, and the you for the persons you don’t. Thus “I want to be you” with the “polite you” is charged differently, because it’s adressed to someone you don’t know from a long time.

Poltrock, Mute #2, navigates in interesting waters. Quiet piano music can easily be sugary – here it’s not because of the modulations of course :

Bon Entendeur, Basta Cosi, a sound, and a singer who does not sing but speaks.

Portugal The man, Fell it Still, the groove?

Lana Del Rey, For Free, a Joni Mitchell cover??! The song is splendid, and Del Rey has a good idea to sing un-reverbed, it whispers in ears. It modulated all along like smoke. Joni’s version stays much better of course. Here are some of the lyrics:

I slept last night in a good hotel
I went shopping today for jewels
The wind rushed around in the dirty town
And the children let out from the schools

I was standing on a noisy corner
Waiting for the walking green
Across the street he stood and he played real good
On his clarinet, for free

Nobody stopped to hear him
Though he played so sweet and high
They knew he had never been on their TV
So they passed his music by

Sting, Mad about you. Great song, right? Production is strange, it’s like… rustling, quivering:

Mahsa Vahdat & Mighty Sam McClain, Ambassador of Hearts.

Naïssam Jalal, Un sourire au cœur.

Duran Duran, Save a Prayer, and old thing I listen today with new ears, the bass line, the attemps for vocal harmonies, the chorus which climbs then falls back, modulations like stairs.

Mansfield. TYA, Ni morte ni connue, for the “old French new-wave” sound. Neither dead neither well-known.

Celeste, Love is back, because the vintage sound, the smiling desire to compose a similar base, and the broken Amy-like voice.

Colman Jones, Kiev, a dreamy walk in an unknown city under lukewarm clouds:

Ophélie Gaillard, Dos Gardenias, makes me ask someone to dance in the dark:

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(…)

Have a nice day! Je vous souhaite une très belle journée.

The Binomial Tango

This little article is about the fact that between two artists you often choose the “obvious” one, but sometimes you come back to the choice and pick up the other one, because… Let’s see.

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When I was 30 I watched Fellini‘s movies in awe, with a smile, and a question mark above my head. He looked like a clever silly artist, full of exaggerations and weird images, cf Satyricon. And I also watched Antonioni‘s movies, like Eclisse. This guy seemed much more serious, full of clever questions about incommunicability in couples and deep thoughts about the sense of life.

More than 20 years later, I still adore Antonioni and I often watch his movies, but I prefer, by far, Fellini today. I explored his worlds, read a lot about his work, analysis, and interviews, and I realized the… richness of all of it. The baroque, the myths, the fragmented aspects of reality. It’s vast, clever, sensitive…

So, I see the “obvious” choice in many things, today. Because we change and we age, of course, we go deeper. We understand deeper the idea of efforts, which lead to extensive discoveries.

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I have another example with the double-headed Beatles, Paul McCartney and John Lennon. I read a lot about them, I listened and dismantle their music. And of course, I preferred Lennon! He’s stronger, takes more risk, he’s the fool who wrote the Walrus (while McCartney wrote Yesterday). Lennon is spicy, Macca is sweet. Voilà.

But the more you dig, you realize that McCartney is stronger, is a better musician. He wrote Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, which is a splendid masterpiece, very quietly though.

So I always loved Brahms, who is strong, heavy, very Taurus, with earthian symphonies and concertos, and I didn’t like Schubert, whose music is closer to Mozart. But today Schubert’s Great is unreachable. I eventually found out the nuggets, the colors, the subtleties in this…

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The structure here is simple:

We often have choices between similar things. One seems obvious, and we choose this one. But sometimes we reconsider things and we bend over the other one, to find out that its treasures were maybe hidden, too subtle, or complex/difficult. It’s a tango!

What are your examples?

Thanks for reading!

The Principle of Difficulty: Chronicle 68

JF Billeter writes about “The Principle of Difficulty”, something like : It is better to be aware of the difficulties of a domain and have fun than to be ignorant of it and to fail.

I wrote it, and thought about difficult domains. Imagine you want to learn to speak Chinese, imagine you want to understand the whole Bob Dylan work, imagine you don’t like opera and you want to explore its worlds…

It’s huge, big, and well, difficult, fractal, complex, it’s a continent. Then, it’ll keep you happy busy for a long time.

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There’s a French painter who is funny to read about : Chardin. He is, like Millet, out of any “system”. Modest. Watching the ordinary. Here’s one. You can watch, but also read. What does this man seek?

From his point of view, it’s a principle of simplicity – but it’s probably very difficult to achieve it!

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The Feynman technique for teaching and communication is a mental model (a breakdown of his personal thought process) to convey information using concise thoughts and simple language.

Hmmm should dig this!

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There are many ways of helping/listening. C. Rogers talks about:

  • An advice (“If I were you, I’d…”).
  • A suggestion (“Maybe you could…”).
  • Support (“I am with you…”).
  • Order (“Don’t let it go…”).
  • Questioning (“Did you really say that ?”).
  • Judgment (“I think you did well”).
  • Interpretation (“Here, you settle your accounts with…”).

All these are interfering! The only good way is the unconditional listening :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unconditional_positive_regard

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Whatever the mood, there’s Art!

Thanks for reading!

Music Chronicles 2: “Déguisée” – the dress the night the house before the ocean

The sea, the waves in the night, Pacific. A tall woman, in an evening dress, solitary. It’s all blue-gray.

So, I wanted to write a song, but I’m not a lyricist, and I’m not a singer. I tried many things, then I made it an instrumental.

It was made to be “De Façon Déguisée”, in disguise. For Dominique A.

A slow dance, with a big pensive bass, marimbas in echo, brushed drums and a mattress of strings.

For chorus I wanted to add an… irritation. Thus I added a too-loud snare drum, an insisting piano, like an itching.

She dances alone, therefore I added flutes, and doubled the marimbas with a sound on the left.

But maybe she sleeps now. It stops. Birds in the morning patio give her the sun.