Improvised Life » music If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Thu, 13 Nov 2014 09:20:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Celestial Music via Sen’s Sculptural Instrument Wed, 12 Nov 2014 09:57:50 +0000

(Video link HERE.) We know nothing of how Turkish musician, Görkem Şen came to create the Yaybahar, his rather magical acoustic instrument made of fretted strings, coiled springs and frame drums.  He plays it with a bow or a wrapped mallet or just his fingers, switching between them like a dancer to create hypnotic, crazy-beautiful and unexpected sounds. It’s as though he’s playing a sculpture. (more…)

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A Vexing Problem Yields Unexpected Gifts: Wondrous Images of Vibrations Thu, 23 Oct 2014 08:47:43 +0000


Since we first wrote about the mysterious mechanical vibration that shakes us awake at night, we’ve tried endless fixes to no avail and at times, have despaired of finding a solution. But amidst this difficulty have come many unexpected gifts, in the form of strangers reaching out to help, and research leading to rich layers of information about sound, acoustics and materials, and seeing our own tenaciousness in the face of a problem.

The latest gift came as we were following more trails about how frequencies work, having learned the specific freqencies of our vexing vibrations. We stumbled on a trove of startlingly beautiful images of vibrations (more…)

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Annals of Hair Design: LaBelle’s Nightbird Platter-Do (with Music) Wed, 22 Oct 2014 23:00:10 +0000


The Hair Hats in our recent Annals of Hair Design reminded me of the great “platter” do, Patti LaBelle wore when performing her album Nightbirds in the 80’s. I loved watching her perform it and wondered how she got that hair to STAY.

Years later, she came to my old studio for a photo shoot and I asked her how she got her hair to make those fabulous platters. (more…)

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Fallen Autumn Leaves are a Material for Making Wed, 22 Oct 2014 08:05:02 +0000

Walking in the park the other day, we saw a young woman lying in a huge pile of brightly-colored leaves…half buried really, resting; she looked relaxed and content.  Around her three little girls were all happily making things out of leaves. And we thought LEAVES. What a beautiful material-for-making things all around us.

That got us looking for Fallen Leaf Creations. (more…)

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Playing for Change’s Glorious, Global “Stand by Me” Mon, 20 Oct 2014 08:57:03 +0000

(Video link here.)  In 2005, Mark Johnson was walking in Santa Monica, California, when he heard Roger Ridley singing “Stand By Me” with stunning soul and conviction. Mark asked, “With a voice like yours, why are you singing on the streets?” 

Roger replied, “Man I’m in the Joy business, I come out to be with the people.” 

Mark returned with a recording equipment and cameras to record Roger for Playing for Change, (more…)

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Song for Monday: ‘Throw it Away’ (Abbey Lincoln) Mon, 06 Oct 2014 07:28:31 +0000

Chris Eldredge recently sent this crazy-beautiful song by Abbey Lincoln (below). "These magic words in a magic book" seem perfect for re-entry to Improvised Life after the challenges of the past few weeks. Lincoln's lyrics could be Improvised Life's anthem and are a fine way to enter a Monday morning.]]> 5
Neil Young’s Anthem for Climate Change + A Question Wed, 24 Sep 2014 21:46:40 +0000

To coincide with Sunday’s massive world-wide Climate Change March, Neil Young wrote an anthem and has made it free to stream.

Whose gonna stand up? Another essential question.

You can listen here or stream it at Soundcloud.

Thanks Holton!

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Music for Monday Morning (Jun Miyake) Mon, 04 Aug 2014 07:24:55 +0000

(Video link HERE.)  …perfect music for getting going on a Monday morning, as well as people dancing, leaping and gliding around in the most wonderful way (until the dark end). You can jump in anywhere to get a hit of LEAP energy.

Not content to just click one link, we can’t help but follow trails. The trails leading from this wonderful video turned us on to Japanese artist, composer, song writer Jun Miyake.

After buying Lillies of the Valley, we’ve been listening to his music on Spotify.

A groove.


via the great Hedviggen

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A Song for a Summer Weekend Fri, 01 Aug 2014 08:34:04 +0000

(Video link here.) We know a number of people taking “stay-cations”, enjoying the city as though they were visiting it anew, filling themselves up with wonderful art, food, happenings,  and not dealing with traveling for one reason for another. We’re going to do the same in a week or so, just so we can WANDER, without a schedule for a while, which is the best way we know of recharging.

We think 500 pound Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to be just the perfect 3-minute escape for those in need of a instant vacation. It’s the perfect music for summer hanging out (in a hammock perhaps).  (more…)

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Kenzo’s FAB “I’m Not Afraid of Losing” + 24 African Dances to Brighten Your Day Wed, 23 Jul 2014 08:05:17 +0000

(Video link HERE.) We love Eddy Kenzo’s joyful “Sitya Loss” (“I’m not afraid of losing”), featuring a group of boys and a girl performing on a dirt road in Uganda. After hunting for the lyrics (which are in Swahili), we found this interpretation from youtuber  jerzeykid2006able:

“In life we do not have to fear losses because we are the bosses of our own life, we have to enjoy the little life we have by shaking our bodies (dancing), as strong youth we have to enjoy our lives to the fullest because when we look at our past lives, we get to notice quite a (more...)]]> 0 Moondog: “I’m Not Gonna Die in 4/4 Time.” Wed, 09 Jul 2014 08:39:02 +0000

Photograph by Peter Martens

The documentary The Viking of 6th Avenue, recently funded by Kickstarter, chronicles the life and musical career of legendary New York icon Moondog. As a girl, I used to see him in front of Saks Fifth Avenue and other corners around town, a blind man in full Viking regalia proudly, with seeming infinite patience, standing in the midst of the passersby of the time. Many years later I would discover his music and learn his story… (more…)

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Motown Break via rdio Mon, 16 Jun 2014 23:00:14 +0000

Working hard? Why not take a break and listen to what the guys hanging out under the trees on 124th street in Harlem listen to on summer nights: Motown. You’ll find the Complete No. 1’s HERE at rdio.

It’s the music that drifts up to our Laboratory and is curiously never intrusive, but stays pretty consistently mellow with Marvin Gaye, The Miracles, and The Temptations.

In the mood for John Coltrane? The great Kottke found The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings.  There are a lot of full albums to be found, listened to, shared.

We just may shake ourselves up with (more...)]]> 0 Phillip Glass: Renowned Composer, Taxi Driver, Plumber (with Music) Wed, 11 Jun 2014 23:00:20 +0000


Recently, guest contributor Sinnae Choi wrote about the popular, simplistic “Do What You Love” notion that devalues the very real need to make a living. Composer Phillip Glass was one of the examples she originally cited of artists who kept working even when they had gained some notoriety.  His story is so compelling, we extracted it to make into it’s own article:

In 2011, Glass was questioned about his day jobs as taxi driver and plumber. He recalls: (more…)

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Virtual Surfing with Ocean Music Wed, 04 Jun 2014 23:00:45 +0000

Cy Kuckenbaker  compressed one hour’s worth of surfing footage into a two minute film. Ahhhhhh, such a nice break, especially viewed full screen. 

We were going to find some music to go with it, and then realized the music is built in: the ocean’s surf. 


via Design Boom

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