Cultural Movements Haiku

Here is my tweet submission for the #UprisingGiveaway by Strawberry Frog’s Scott Goodson:

The challenge was to define and comment on cultural movements in a tweet. Given the brevity of the medium, I opted for the haiku form to help give me some constraints, and for the LOLZ. Also, traditional Japanese haiku is more than just the 5-7-5 syllable structure, as the poetic form often references nature. I decided to play with the metaphor of waves to describe the nature of cultural movements.

The idea of “surfing” upon the power of an ocean/cultural wave, rather than trying to control or force it parallels Goodson’s advice to marketers in BusinessWorld:

  • Instead of controlling the message, marketers must learn to relinquish control and let the movement do what it will with that message.
  • Companies must learn to stop talking about themselves and join in a conversation that is about anything but their products.

The Three Great Chords of Might

I have been making music as a writer, composer, producer, and performer since my teenage years, so I am well aware of the power of just three chords. Songwriter Harlan Howard once said “All you need to write a country song is three chords and the truth.” Just substitue “country” with “punk,” or a myriad of other popular music genres, and you get the point.

Colby and I visited Harvard, our alma mater, this weekend. I noticed and photographed the inscription on the music department building, which reads “to charm / to strengthen / and to teach / these are the 3 chords of might.” Although I have taken classes in the building before, I had only just noticed this inscription for the first time, perhaps because I was accustomed to entering and exiting from the opposite side of the building from the inscription. I later learned that this quote comes from a poem called “The Singers” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The quotation really struck me because I have been thinking a lot lately about the purpose of my life and work and how I synthesize and integrate the various streams of my interests and experiences as a musician, social innovator, and as an educator.

Longfellow offers a succinct and poetic framework that helps me sum up what I do:

To charm: I bring delight and inspiration to others through creativity.
To strengthen: I support the work of changemakers and social entrepreneurs, helping them articulate and communicate their ideas in a more effective and powerful way.
To teach: From my first post-college job on the JET Programme to teaching in the MFA Design for Social Innovation program at SVA next year, as well as my work at Purpose, whether I have been a “teacher” or a “consultant,” I find my greater calling to be that of fostering learning and critical inquiry, not just to “empower” others, a rather well-worn term, but to inspire in others a greater sense of the possible. Teaching also helps me to perpetually learn more.

I forgot my native language

I got really good feedback about my NIME project in class tonight that will help me develop my Mumbo Jumbo Maracas piece.  In thinking about how I want everything to fit together, I am strongly leaning towards making my performance an ensemble piece.  I definitely want to keep both the maracas and the gibberish speech samples in the composition.  I’m thinking that I will play the Wiimote which will be triggering the mumbo jumbo language samples, while another musician will play the maracas.  A third musician will be playing a melodic instrument.  I still need to sort out the details, but that is where I stand as of tonight.  My next steps are scoring out the composition, learning more about OSC and PD.

On the way home, a lullaby-like melody and lyrics came into my head while I was in the subway.  Here are the words.  I think they will help guide me in what I want to say with the Mumbo Jumbo Maracas project.

I forgot my native language
I forgot my mother tongue
I forgot the tales you’ve told me
I forgot the songs you’ve sung

5 Minute Love Poem

Today in my Show and Tell Studio class with Nancy Hechinger, we went through some creative exercises to help develop our communications skills and the ability to respond quickly to challenges.  Our first task was to write a love poem in five minutes.  I am usually a tortured writer who takes hours to write short pieces, so I love the challenge of being forced to write something quick and raw.  Here’s my five-minute love poem:

True love waits
But it doesn’t
That’s bull$h1t
It just hits you like a bus
Out of the blue
Knocking you out
And then you wake up one day
Naked
Alone again
Is it over?