National Concert Hall Commissions New Mindfulness & Music Listening Track
This Newly commissioned Listening Track by the NCH, is an experiment in Mindfulness & Music, a collaboration between Una Keeley & Nick Roth.
A new Mindfulness & Music track, has been launched by the NCH. This 20 min listening track, was launched on the 22 June 2021, and is gaining worldwide attention. At time of writing, it has been listened to, over 76,000 times, the largest listenership of any NCH YouTube video to date. “Take Notice” is a new meditative listening experience, an experiment in music & mindfulness, a creative collaboration between MBSR Mindfulness Instructor Una Keeley & Musician/composer Nick Roth.
Una Keeley, writes below, about how this commission came about, and her experience collaborating on this Track:
3 years ago, I sat late into the night, deep in conversation with Mindfulness Instructor & musician, Fionnuala Gill. We were both attending a MTAI teachers retreat, in Teach Bhride, Tullow. (Mindfulness Teachers Association of Ireland). We had never met in person before, and yet within seconds of saying hello, we found ourselves recognizing in the other, a fellow creative spirit. The conversation, was a soulful recognition, of the inter-connectedness between mindfulness and creativity; The intimate relationship between beginner’s mind, curiosity, openness, navigating the unknown, and the ability to creatively respond. We shared and explored this fertile territory together, into the late hours. This conversation has stayed with us both, and in November of last year 2020, Fionnuala reached out with this opportunity, inviting me, as a Mindfulness Instructor and fellow creative, to take up this commission with the NCH.
The NCH were keen to respond to the needs of people during the pandemic, and to encourage people to use music as a tool for their mental wellbeing. They were interested in how mindfulness exercises and practices could help achieve this, and how music and mindfulness could combine to create a deep, immersive, listening experience.
I was asked to steer the project, and to help identify a musician to work with. Nick Roth, a musician / composer was invited by the NCH to collaborate, and we began the creative journey together. The skill set needed to accomplish this project, was wider than, just being a Mindfulness Instructor. I am fortunate to have 30 years’ experience, designing and facilitating creative projects for institutions, under my belt, (including the Irish Museum of Modern Art for 15 years). I am also a professional artist, and have worked with artists from many backgrounds. This familiarity with the creative process, combined with the practice of mindfulness, informed how the project progressed.
The skills of mindful listening and mindful communication, were invaluable. As it took many a long conversation, exploring and gently teasing out, what we were attempting to achieve, and how we might do this. The mindful practices of “staying open”, employing “beginners mind” and “trusting the emerging”, allowed the piece to slowly manifest.
Music is often used in the background on meditation tracks. This commission however, had as its aim, to bring music centre stage, engaging in an intimate dance with mindful guidance. The track invites the listener into a deep embodied listening experience, where the sonic soundscape becomes the arena, for wakefulness, attention and awareness.
We created this “Take Notice” track, as an invitation, to consciously turn the attention towards the act of listening; awakening our innate capacity to hear and ‘take note’ of the soundscape around us. Our Attention is one of our most precious gifts. When we purposely turn our attention towards the act of listening, a myriad of sonic qualities can begin revealing themselves to us. Sounds which were previously unheard, come into greater focus, available now to be relished and savoured. This track is an intimate weaving together of music, sonic sounds and the voice. It guides the listener on a deep meditative listening experience. The ear, mind, heart & body are all invited to engage in the act of listening.
While working on the track, Nick introduced me to the work of American performer and composer Pauline Oliveros, and her exploration of Deep Listening. Researching her work, I found strong correlations and connections with the practice of mindful listening. Nick made contact with flautist Claire Chase, for whom Pauline was an incredibly important mentor figure, and we were given permission to weave, a short performance of one of Pauline’s scores into the track. (13 Changes, the final movement)
Using high end professional sound engineering techniques & filters, Nick was able to place my voice into the 360-degree, sonic soundscape of existing caves and cathedrals, adding an ethereal quality to the voice, and to the recital of the poetic lines in Olivero’s (13 Changes).
In January this year, the music department of University College Cork, opened a new €2 million sound studio named after Pauline Oliveros.
This has been a wonderful experience, merging the practice of mindfulness with the arts. Working on this track has stirred the creative waters, and offered inspiration for further pieces. The NCH is now actively seeking a sponsor, to hopefully commission myself and Nick, to record one or two more tracks.
Collaborating with Nick was an absolute pleasure. What has emerged from this collaboration is something quite unique. I am truly grateful to the NCH for commissioning this work, and for their open, trusting support. May this track encourage you to Pause, Relax & Trust, as you take time out of your day to Listen Mindfully & Deeply.
If you would like to listen to this NCH Mindfulness & Music Track, follow the link below, and if you enjoy it, perhaps give it a like.
SOUNDCLOUD: (You can find a high-fidelity version here)
GUIDED MEDITATIONS with UNA KEELEY
“We have created this “Take Notice” track, as an invitation, to consciously turn the attention towards the act of listening; awakening our innate capacity to hear and ‘take note’ of the soundscape around us. Our Attention is one of our most precious gifts. When we purposely turn our attention towards the act of listening, a myriad of sonic qualities can begin revealing themselves to us. Sounds which were previously unheard come into greater focus, available now to be relished and savored. This track is an intimate weaving together of music, sonic sounds and the voice. It guides the listener on a deep meditative listening experience. The ear, mind, heart & body are all invited to engage in the act of listening. Collaborating with Nick was an absolute pleasure. What has emerged from this collaboration is something quite unique. I am truly grateful to the NCH for commissioning this work. May this track encourage you to Pause, Relax & Trust as you take time out of your day to Listen Mindfully & Deeply”.
*For the High Fidelity version of Track listen on SoudCloud
“In truth, music is neither sound nor silence, but the act of listening itself. The world that we are making today however, now threatens to stop listening to us. Projects such as this propose that music, a sensitivity to deep pattern in the world, offers us a hope of participating in an evolution that includes ourselves. When I first received the invitation from the NCH to create this piece, I immediately thought of Pauline Oliveros’ pioneering work in the field of Deep Listening and felt it apt that the listening experience should culminate with a performance of one of her scores. Flautist Claire Chase, for whom Pauline was an incredibly important mentor figure, recommended 13 Changes, and the final movement leapt out from the page: ‘Directionless motion— Unquiet stillness—A moment alone with millions of people—Calming the waters—The aura of a blackbird.’ Working with Una and the NCH on this project was an absolute joy throughout, and I very much hope that this short meditation offers you a brief moment of calm, and a glimpse into the inner riches that are always waiting for us to take the time to notice them.”
*For the High Fidelity version of Track listen on SoudCloud
Credits for this NCH Mindfulness & Music Track:
Una Keeley – Mindfulness Wexford. www.mindfulnessandcreativity.ie
Una is a registered member of the Mindfulness Teachers Association of Ireland, the professional body representing qualified teachers of Mindfulness-Based Interventions in Ireland.
Nick Roth – Musician/Composer. www.nickrothmusic.com
For more information on Pauline Oliveros and her work in Deep Listening ®, please visit www.paulineoliveros.us and www.deeplistening.org
You may also like to listen or subscribe to the Mindfulness Meditation Podcast on Apple Podcasts
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