Thursday, November 7, 2013

Body Slapping for Peace


It’s time for my favorite musical gathering— Keith Terry’s International Body Music Festival. A week of concerts and workshops put on by grown men and women who spend their days slapping their bodies and making odd sounds with their voice. People who come from far and near, from cultures with all sorts of different attitudes about spending your adult lives chasing fun and frivolity (mostly summarized as “Grow up!”), from all walks of life, but united in their determination not to grow up and get serious jobs sitting in front of computers juggling numbers and such. Whether from Bali, Turkey, Greece, Spain, Brazil or Oakland, they are united in their determination to uncover and discover every tone and timbre the human body is capable of producing and join them into a coherent artistry that leaves audiences gasping in amazement.

I’ve moved amongst all kinds of people— from so-called normal adults to Zen students to jazz musicians to Orff teachers and beyond, but I have to say that Body Musicians are some of my favorite people on the planet. You have to be slightly crazy to devote your life to such things, slightly offbeat (and onbeat and in-between beats) and strange, have a low tolerance for dull routine and a high fascination for patterned magic, a stubborn unwillingness to wholly grow-up joined with a fierce dedication to practice and perfect routines— in short, just my kind of folks!

When I find something good, I, like many, feel compelled to convince the world that this is The Way. Not by preaching or proselytizing or scaring people with threats of hell if they don’t clap and snap to the beat five times a day, but simply by inviting them into the party. Besides the proven truths of stimulating the immune system, pumping up the cardiovascular system without the Zumba membership, opening all the channels in the neuro-circuitry of the brain and lighting up the synapses, cultivating rhythmic integration in the body, connecting to your fellow beings in a way many times more profound than the fake smile handshake of peace in the church service, it’s just so damn fun! And free! Available anywhere, anytime, with anyone! Those dang foreigners may have different accents and words than us, different clothes and customs, different foods and festivals, different religious and philosophical beliefs, but hey, they all have bodies and they all can make sounds. Let us join together!

And so Body Music as the untried route to World Peace and Harmony. Besides all the benefits above, body musicians must practice for many hours a day to get their routines in the muscle memory. Consider this: all the time they are practicing, they are not shopping for unnecessary things that are clogging the planet. They’re not buying a gun at Walmart. They’re not using their hand-eye coordination to practice pulling triggers. They’re not listening to hateful talk radio and learning how to despise others. They’re not playing Grand Auto Theft XV. You get the idea. If only Body Music were mandatory in the schools and work place, come on, can’t you feel it? What a wonderful world this would be!

Slap your body for peace! Spread the word— and then get thee to the Body Music Festival! 

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