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AcousticView – Rumination Regarding Resonance

AcousticView By Aaron Rowan

A Rumination Regarding Resonance

Would you believe me if I told you that music is a fundamental force of the universe, on the same level as gravity and magnetism?

Famed Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter once gave a concert in Sofia, Bulgaria in the winter of 1958. A flu epidemic was raging during that time, and there was a great deal of coughing going on among the audience that night. But a recording of that recital reveals something interesting: there were passages of Richter’s performance during which the coughing fell silent. It is as though Richter had the power to suspend the physical symptoms of an entire theater full of people through his music.

This intangible power may also extend beyond affecting the emotional (and physical?) tides within the human soul, and into the larger realm of nature. A few years ago I viewed a documentary exploring the relationship between music and the natural world. I do not usually go for documentary films, but this had me mesmerized from first frame to last. It’s called ‘The Reach Of Resonance,’ directed by musician and writer Steve Elkins. It follows four pioneers working in the fringes of the musical realm:

-Bob Ostertag; creating a symphony using the movements of a street riot as a template, and exploring other social/political issues through the lens of music; -Jon Rose, inventor of unique musical instruments, traveling the globe playing barbed-wire fences with a violin bow; -Performance artist Miya Masaoka, using music to interact with insects and plants; -and composer John Luther Adams, discovering the music-like structure hidden within the geophysical phenomena of Alaska (such as the Aurora Borealis.)

The film has been screened and won awards across the globe. You can find more info and upcoming screenings at I cannot recommend this highly enough – it will change the way you think about music forever.

This year’s installment of the Modesto Unplugged Music Festival is seeking all those who wield the power of music to submit their original work in the Americana, bluegrass, folk, country, and related genres to our songwriting contest. For a $10 entry fee, singer-songwriters will have the chance to win a cash prize, and more. Five finalists will be invited to perform their songs as part of the closing night Festival showcase, and the top 3 as judged by a panel of accomplished songwriters will receive a share of the prize pool. The entry deadline is Saturday February 1. You can email to get instruction on where to send your entry package and what to include.

This songwriting competition will serve as a segue into the as-yet-unnamed women’s songwriting conference being spearheaded by our very own country-rock ambassador Patty Castillo Davis. This will be held a few weeks after MUMfest wraps, in late April or early May. It will be a whole day of memorable performances and workshops featuring noted songbirds from around California and beyond. More info in the coming months!

Caption: Nate Ignacio brightens the air and sings on the streets of Modesto



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