Sounds and Silence

From my memoir Sounds and Silence: The (mostly) True Adventures of a Curious Musician

When I was six years old my father, a violinist and an opera buff, took me aside to tell me that I didn’t cry when I was born. I sang.

“It sounded just a teeny like an opera by Bellini,” he said.

I was shocked, shaken, ashamed. Bellini? Dad knew how much I preferred Puccini.

Well, I didn’t really sing opera when I was born. But I did sing, and as my head popped out of the womb, I swear I heard the opening of Richard Strauss’s Thus Spake Zarathustra. You know, Duuhhh Duuhhh Duh Duhhhh? And when the theme came to a climax on a tonic C, I leapt out of the womb, slapped the doctor’s hands away, and sang a C two octaves above middle C matching the final chord. That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

Thus begins the first chapter of my memoirs, Sounds and Silence: the Mostly True Adventures of a Curious Musician. If it was a recipe for the stock for a stew, you’d combine the over-the-top and self-deprecatory humor of Dave Barry with the funny and wide-ranging writings on travel and science by Bill Bryson, add a touch of the poetic melancholy of Paul Theroux, and finally channel the outrageous mind of my favorite travel writer, Eric Hansen.

To this stock I add my experiences as a musician and ethnomusicologist, a musical anthropologist with field experience and stories from Africa, Europe, New Zealand, and elsewhere. I am particularly interested in how music is used for all kinds of purposes, so I wonder about things like “what is elevator music actually doing?”

From fighting off baboons in Africa, to taking my sons trick or treating with soundtracks, to discussing the relationship between music and mathematics, my memoirs cover experiences not found in the average memoir. A former webmaster, I have developed my own online platform , and many of my footnotes suggest readers can go to my website and click on links that take them to performances of the music I discuss, or to quirky connections, or things you never knew were true or mostly true or not true at all.

I am currently looking for an agent to help with the publication of my memoirs.

Here is a demonstration of three of the links I have in my book.

Sheila Chandra demonstrating the vocal equivalent of tabla drumming. Listen to how her voice even imitates the sound of a drum being pressed.

Kora Music from The Gambia

Camina Burana, The Entire Work

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