Fiddling With A Few Thoughts

A few weeks ago, I made mention in this posting that I was having difficulty finding music that spoke to me; that I was actively looking for a new sound or song that would somehow capture how I was feeling or where I was at that moment in my life. If you are curious: No, I did not find it. But, that is not to say that I did not discover something inspiring.

You see, a very kind gentleman took time to respond to that post, and he offered to your author a selection of songs and musicians that I greatly enjoyed.

From those songs I few ideas came to my mind that I will share over the course of the next few days, but first I wanted to take a moment, spread the music and (most importantly) say:

Thank you, Ian. I was humbled that you took the time to respond, and am appreciative that you were kind enough to share.

If you have a few minutes of quiet, I recommend taking the time to listen:

Farewell to Uist: Duncan Chisholm

Kan- Night Ride

.    .    .    .

Recognizing Excellence

The fiddle is under-utilized in mainstream US radio. Charlies Daniels is famous for “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” and has even landed himself a GEICO commercial. Boyd Tinsley is probably most famous in the United States over the last decade as the “violinist” for the Dave Matthews Band. But otherwise, you would be hard-pressed to find the fiddle anywhere near the radio dial, outside of NPR.

So, when Ian sent me the link to the music that had such a strong influence with the use of the fiddle, my ears were pleasantly surprised. The piece by Duncan that he shared was particularly interesting to me because he was a musician who displayed many of the skills that I admired in the virtuoso electric guitar players without detaching emotion from the notes he played.

“Wow…he is good,” I thought to myself.

But was he? As I mentioned above, my experience is extremely limited with listening to fiddlers. How am to know what a good fiddler sounds like? I supposed that only experience would afford me the opportunity (in time) to differentiate what separates a good from and excellent fiddler, just as I had developed with guitar players over the last 30 years. Or, perhaps, I could someone else with more experience listening to fiddles provide me with their opinion of a performer’s prowess.

It then occurred to me: finding a good musician is not all too different from finding a good physical therapist.

As little as I know about fiddling, a person who is in pain and is seeking professional care probably knows even less. They don’t know what the letters that follow a name mean and they can rarely differentiate between DPT, DO, DC, LMT, OCS, CSCS, etc.

Although we understand that it should not work this way, patients often only know that they are in pain (or are injured) and that they want someone to help make them better. They may have seen a therapist or two before, and perhaps they have heard a recommendation or two from an acquaintance, but they are otherwise naive.

That naivete is frightening…

There must be hundreds of thousands of fiddlers in the world (think: those in healing professions), but only a select few land a recording contract (think: licensed professional in science-based fields). Now, remove the media (no more records, tapes, CDs or mp3s) and all that remains are live performances. Now the listeners need to set 30-60 minutes aside to go somewhere and listen to the music, after work, before the kids soccer game and somehow still get to the grocery store and mow the lawn before dark.

How many fiddlers would they get to hear? How far would they travel to listen?

More importantly, how much more likely are they to necessarily enjoy whatever it was that they heard, if they never had an opportunity to listen to anything else?


It had turned out that I had found the music I was looking for. It had been in my music library for the better part of 4 years, but had never been accessible to me (emotionally) until recently. I listened to the album that contained this song for 5 hours on my way to the Dermoneuromodulation course in Montreal. I suspect that the music speaks for itself.

. . . .

(Fast forward to after two nights in a Super 8 motel and two days at a continuing education course…)

It is amazing what a couple of days of escape can do for the soul. After a weekend surrounded by people of similar interests and passions and stimulating conversations over both a nice Italian dinner at a restaurant and (later) a beer in a small physio-clinic…well, I was listening to a different tune on the way home.

And no, my foot wouldn’t stop tapping…nor did I want it to.

Fiddling With Ideomotion

Two months ago, I did not know the difference between a fiddler and a violinist. I now understand that they use (essentially) the same tool, but their differences lie in how they use it and this understanding has led me to think about movement therapy in the context of these two similar, yet ultimately different, performers.

Classical music is enduring, evoking feeling in it’s listeners across the world, yet it is only background music in my own home. It does not grab my attention or bring me pleasure. Music performed by Martin Hayes, on the other hand, grabbed my attention when I heard it for the first time. I understand, however, that different people have different responses to different music across the world based on their own experiences, likes and dislikes. What sounds good to me may not sound good to another and vice versa. Why would movement be any different?

Classical music became what it most essentially is, a dialogue between the two powerful sides of our nature instinct and intelligence. And there began to be a difference at the point between the art of improvisation and the art of composition. An improvisor senses and plays the next cool move but a composer is considering all possible moves, testing them out, prioritizing them out until he sees how they can form a powerful and coherent design of ultimate and enduring coolness. (Michael Tilson Thomas, 8:55)

Such is the way with exercise for painful conditions. It has been studied and talked about endlessly for decades. Initially improvised, the culture has developed a handful of “ultimate” and “enduring” activities designed to give an individual the best chance for a successful outcome. But much like music, just because it endures does not mean it will touch each “listener”.

When I was searching for something to listen to, I longed to be able to perform my own music. I wondered if I would be satiated if I could perform what I felt I needed to hear, but I lacked the ability to express myself. There was music within me, but I could not get it out. As a result, I was “stuck” listening to others people’s music, none of it fulfilling to me at that time, in that context. I was living (unhappily) in a sonic void.

Eventually, after a month of trial and error and listening to hundreds of artists, I heard something that satiated me; until that time, I had felt like something was missing. It would have been wonderful if I had been able to express myself from the start.

. . . .

I suppose that I didn’t believe that someone could do something emotional and touching and deep and from your heart and expect to exist in the rational world so I ignored the possibilities of playing how I felt. (Martin Hayes, 5:50)

Sound familiar?

Originals: Pt.1, Pt.2, Pt.3, Pt.4, Pt.5