26 May 2013

Fado and other emotions

Fado is a traditional music from Portugal. Other than a curious measure or two of music online I had no experience with it. Living in Spain I have more exposure to Flamenco music, so I found it a fun exercise to contrast and compare the Iberian peninsula's folk music recently.

I went to a concert of Minha Lua in la Sala Galieo Galilei in Madrid. I would never have found this on my own but an actor in one of our work projects knew my husband likes world music and he suggested we go hear his friend sing Fado. It made me feel very connected which is very Spanish, but it's a rare thing for me.

Flamenco music is accompanied by dancing. More dancing than singing it seems sometimes and it's full of violent emotions. The dancing is a stomping generally on a wooden surface for maximum volume. The stomping becomes part of the beat of the music. It's hypnotic and in a way shocking for the pure emotion of the thing. It is generally strong themes, love, love lost, why'd you leave me kind of stuff. I suppose it is the country music of Spain but with no relation to US country music in style.

Here's a link to a polished recording of some flamenco.  Even though this was done specifically for camera you get a feel for the emotion of the music.

Flamenco has a sort of gut-level emotion sensation. I've been in a performance where the woman's emotion was so strong that the young man at my table was visibly embarrassed even though he couldn't understand the words that cried out why, oh, why did you leave me.

So if Flamenco is emotion, I'd say it has sadness and anger in it.  Perhaps of sense of having been done wrong.

The Fado music (mind you this is my own experience here) was deep, deep emotion too. Each song seemed to have the ability to tug on a string in your soul. It pulled deeply sad emotions from you. The singer Vicky Cruz of Minha Lua translated some of the songs into Spanish so I understood some. It was a lot of love lost, loneliness, and poetry. It too was pure emotion but without the anger.  Soul wrenching sadness.  There was no dancing -- that's not to say that they don't ever, but it doesn't appear to go hand in glove with the Fado like it does the Flamenco.

It was a lovely evening. Vicky was accompanied by a cello and a guitar and  it was beautiful, touching and full of emotion. Turns out my phone videos won't upload, so here's a link to the group.
Minha Lua







13 May 2013

Do you hear what I hear?

Have you ever noticed the explosion of sound when you close your eyes?  I went to have my hair done at a nearly empty shopping center. Normally I practice my Spanish and try to chat with the beauty technician, but I decided to close my eyes and listen.

I'm working on a senses edit of my next novel  trying to add another layer to the story of the five senses. I must be a majorly visual person. I never thought of myself that way, but I find it takes a big effort to focus on elements of a scene besides what I see in my mind's eye.

When the lady started putting the color on my hair, I decided to close my eyes and listen. I enjoy getting my hair done though I am a lot lax about doing it regularly. I find someone else combing my hair to be very relaxing so I slipped into a semi-somnambulant state.

The easiest thing to hear was a baby screaming somewhere in the mall. They always scream in confined places, don't they? Airplanes, weddings, shopping centers, church. When the baby took time out, I heard a soft buzz of adult conversations, probably upstairs on the restaurant level. The foil on my head made lot of rattling sounds and the brush applying the color made a pounding sound inside my head that accompanied the rattle of the foil.

In lulls between the plastic comb and paint brush applicator clacking together ad the foil rattles, I sometimes heard music from a nearby shop. Not enough to identify a song, but the beat or a crash of symbols, a high note. In the quiet there is also a big echoing sound of air in the mall. I suppose it's just the big enclosed space sound a whoosh of air and motion.

When I slipped deeper and concentrated harder, I could hear the purr of a motor. It reminded me of a quiet house when the refridgerator kicks on, but it's a beauty salon and there are no refridgerators. I can't really identify that sound and if I don't concentrate on it, it disappears again from my consciousness. I smell the strong smell of the ammonia in the hair color and  maybe a hint of food from upstairs. Even the scents are more notable with my eyes closed.

The other girl in the shop moves some chairs and they make scootching sounds against the tile floor. Like they think I'm really asleep, she and the lady working on my hair exchange a quiet mumble that I don't catch all of. Something about sharing something, food maybe?

I hear voices nearer probably of people walking nearby on this level and the occasional race car sound and motor from a child's ride in motion.

So a quiet shopping center with few people in it actually turns into a cacophony of sounds when you unplug your brain and your eyes and listen and smell. So what can you hear?

06 May 2013

Patron huh?

I live in a village in Spain. Friday was patron saint day in the village. I had no idea what that meant. I came home from work and took the two Spanish dogs that live with me for a walk. Before we left, I noticed that little local cathedral bells were going off at an unusual time and at an unusual level of volume.

We walked toward our usual dirt track on the edge of town which is along a ridge of hills. The intensity of the bells from the cathedral was so loud that it bounced off the hills and sounded as if the hills actually were ringing bells. It was a startling acoustic sensation and I actually stopped to look in case there was something there.

Since the bells were continuing for such a long time, I decided to veer off our dirt path into the village main streets just to see if there was anything to see. I don't really know what patron saint day means but I figured something was going on nearby.

I reached a main roundabout that converges five roads and has flags from the Madrid region, the EU, the village, etc. As I crossed the big road on the red elevated crosswalk, I noticed that loads of people, surely the whole village, was walking uphill toward the cathedral. They were converging here at the round about taking the calle to the church. They were all dressed up, like wedding in Spain dressed up which is serious. Lots of high heels, dresses, the men all had on suits. My jeans and two dogs got some dirty looks from the older ladies, so I decided to walk across them and go another way rather than join the stream.

I worked my way uphill in the village thinking I'd get above the cathedral and look down on the crowd. Meanwhile the bells are still going. People were driving into the tiny side streets searching for parking and frantically putting on suit coats as they trotted down to the church. When you are from a village in Spain or your family is from a village, you come back for important days. Looks like Patron Saint day is one of them.

I was startled to see an older lady with a cane not dressed up and wandering around like me. I said the customary "hola" but as I chose my cross street she stopped me. Over the bells, she hollered in my ear about not wanting to go that way or I'd end up right in front of the entire "public." She asked me where I lived.

For some reason, I find this hard to explain in the village. Of course I know my street address, but people tend to say by areas. I can't seem to memorize mine - I've never seen it written out since it's sort of local slang. I always try to say I live by the park. The park is Arroyo de Tesoro. Treasure brook, I suppose would be a translation. I'd call it wild cat, ditch with water-sometimes park. Well, I managed to croak out, "treasure." She says where? I say "By the park, treasure park." I can really freeze up in Spanish and sound like an idiot. She got the idea and told me to go down and turn the other way. I obeyed. It seemed best even though I wanted to see what was going on.

I was by the stinky trashcans by the fish shop when another family crossed in front of me. One woman had a Muslim head covering and style of dress but could easily have been Spanish from her appearance. The rest of the family was in jeans and regular Spanish whatever Friday afternoon clothes. Then I noticed they're speaking Arabic. Okay, nobody in our village does that and we're a long way from downtown Madrid.

The bells stop and fire works start exploding up by the church. The two dogs start trotting and as the fireworks escalate, they are dragging me two-horse team style down the street toward home. We did make it safely if somewhat surreal-y.

I decided to walk to the grocery shop for some diet coke. At the round about by the stinky trash cans, I see that all these dressed up people I saw before are marching behind a procession statue of Jesus on the cross. So I walked up to where they are stopped by the bank. When I get close, they have stopped the procession and all the dressed up people who have babies are trying to balance them on the side of the statue platform and take their pictures. So this is really unusual for a girl from Kansas, and terribly interesting, so I whip out my camera and take pictures and then decide to do a video.

I'm panning the crowd and the music starts and I realize I'm filming my neighbors. Nice one. The weird American neighbor lady who doesn't know how to behave appropriately. How many times have you seen a neighbor going down the street and  you stop to take their picture? Hmmm. Going to chalk this up to a very interesting cultural learning day.
Can you see the babies being held up there on the right?
video