Happy Birthday, Tilly!
Tunes for a Monday Morning

On Singing & Music

a Fairy Song by Arthur Rackham

“It may be laid down as a general rule that if a man begins to sing, no one will take any notice of his song except his fellow human beings. This is true even if his song is surpassingly beautiful. Other men may be in Beauty & the Beast: After She Had Done Her Work She Would Sing and Play  by Edmund Dulac
raptures at his skill, but the rest of creation is, by and large, unmoved. Perhaps a cat or a dog may look at him; his horse, if it is an exceptionally intelligent beast, may pause in cropping the grass, but that is the extent of it. But when the fairy sang, the whole world listened to him. Stephen felt clouds pause in their passing; he felt sleeping hills shift and murmur; he felt cold mists dance. He understood for the first time that the world is not dumb at all, but merely waiting for someone to speak to it in a language it understands. In the fairy's song the earth recognized the names by which it called itself.”  - Susanna Clarke (Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell)

"Why does exquisite song stir us deeply? Perhaps, more than any instrument, song can capture us because the human voice is our very own sound; the voice is the most intimate signature of human individuality and, of all the sounds in creation, comes from an utterly different place. Though there is earth in the voice, the voice is not of the earth. It is the voice of the in-between creature, the one in whom both earth and heaven become partially vocal."  - John O'Donohue (Beauty)

The Green Singing Book by Elizabeth Shippen Green

"There is a profound sense in which music opens a secret door in time and reaches in to the eternal. This is the authority and grace of music: it evokes or creates an atmosphere where presence awakens to its eternal depth. In our everyday experience the quality of presence is generally limited and broken. Much of the time we are distracted; we might manage to be externally present, but often our minds are secretly elsewhere. Music can transform this fragmentation, for when you enter into a piece of music your feeling deepens and your presence clarifies. It brings you back to the mystery of who you are....Listening to music stirs the heavy heart; it alters the gravity."   - John O'Donohue (Beauty)

The Piano Lesson by Carl Larsson

         I want to thank
my mother for working and always paying for   
my piano lessons
before she paid the Bank of America loan   
or bought the groceries
or had our old rattling Ford repaired.

I was a quiet child,
afraid of walking into a store alone,
afraid of the water,
the sun,
the dirty weeds in back yards,
afraid of my mother’s bad breath,
and afraid of my father’s occasional visits home,   
knowing he would leave again;
afraid of not having any money,
afraid of my clumsy body,
that I knew
         no one would ever love

But I played my way
on the old upright piano
obtained for $10,
played my way through fear,
through ugliness,
through growing up in a world of dime-store purchases,   
and a desire to love
a loveless world.

Choir Rehearsal by Otto Piltz

“Our songs travel the earth. We sing to one another. Not a single note is ever lost and no song is original. They all come from the same place and go back to a time when only the stones howled.”
- Louise Erdrich (The Master Butcher's Singing Club)

The Choir Lesson by Auguste Trupheme

"Singing has always seemed to me the most perfect means of expression. It is so spontaneous. And after singing, I think the violin. Since I cannot sing, I paint."   - Georgia O'Keeffe

A Woman Singing by Godfried Schalcken

“Then the musical instruments appeared. Dad’s snare drum from the house, Henry’s guitar from his car, Adam’s spare guitar from my room. Everyone was jamming together, singing songs: Dad’s songs, Adam’s songs, old Clash songs, old Wipers songs. Teddy was dancing around, the blond of his hair reflecting the golden flames. I remember watching it all and getting that tickling in my chest and thinking to myself: This is what happiness feels like.”   - Gayle Forman (If I Stay)

(That's how I feel when the instruments come out too.)

The Singing Lesson by Frederico Zandomeneghi

“I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.”   - Mary Oliver

Singing Praise by Dick Sargent

The art above is: "A Fairy Song" by Arthur Rackham (English, 1867-1939); "Beauty & the Beast: After She Had Done Her Work She Would Sing and Play" by Edmund Dulac (French, 1882-1953); "The Green Singing Book" by Elizabeth Shippen Green (American, 1871-1954 ); "The Piano Lesson" by Carl Larsson (Swedish, 1853-1919); "Choir Rehearsal" by Otto Piltz (German, 1846-1910); "The Choir Lesson" by Auguste Joseph Trupheme (French, 1836-1898); "A Woman Singing" by Godfried Schalcken (Dutch, 1643-1706); "The Singing Lesson"  by Frederico Zandomeneghi (Italian,  1841-1917); and "Singing Praise" by Richard Sargent (American, 1911-1979 ), for the Saturday Evening Post.

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