Friday, May 20, 2005

the writing of kali

Now, in Pinoy Poetics, I wrote about the Kali of Writing, how breath, movement, the discipline of one art speaks to another, etc. But what I realized today, is that I failed to write about the Writing of Kali, how writing changes my kali. Because if you can do it one way, you can do it the opposite way.

Last Sunday, actually for several Sundays, Tuhan has been trying to get us to do what's known as the "running style" of kali, where your feet and body are constantly moving, no start and stops, rarely a pause. It's not something you can teach folks right away, you have to coordinate your feet with your hands first and to do that you first learn this stop and start rhythm. But how do you break yourself of this "basic"? Been pondering that for a while now.

Then it hit me tonight when I was talking with my students about answering that question, "how do I get myself to do the running style" because frankly, the body just ain't doing it on its own! I realized in Tango class on Sunday that the reason I wasn't getting the "running style" was because I've been too concentrated on the steps and not the sequence, that I'm looking to closely at the notes and need to think more of the phrase. Okay, but how do I get myself to DO that. Then it hit me.

I need to start writing more poetry with more phrasing, more sequences, think longer, think beyond singular words, but strings of words. That's how writing changes my kali!

If everything is connected, then to solve a problem in one area, I simply execute the answer in another area and the answer will translate itself. So, here's this thing I'm having trouble in Kali, the running style that I had no idea how to wrap my brain around. Then I went to Argentine Tango class and saw what the problem in Kali was, but I couldn't solve it there either, because I don't know enough steps in Argentine Tango to be able to think about sequences. But, but, I do know enough about writing poems and stringing words together that I could do this thing that I can't do in kali in writing. I can DO THIS! And if I can start to do this in my writing, my body will eventually figure out how to do this in my kali.

And this is why though the Chatelaine always had trouble figuring out which direction the kali stick should go, I had always admired the deft and skill she could string words. Which is also why I've had so many artists come through my classes, because they can see, how this physical movements speaks to them in their own media/form. Maybe they can't do the movement physically, but that doesn't matter as much as how the movement speaks volumes to them and perhaps can give them the answer they are looking for.

Right now, it's a running theory, quite a personal revelation, I'll let you know how it goes.


Randy said...

You know the concept of phrasing is similar when singing Bach. Very often, you'll have strings of 16 or 32 sixteenth notes, and there's absolutely no way you can sing them all if you just concentrate on them one by one. So the professor tells us to not sing notes, but ideas & phrases, and that they repeat often. It gets pretty hectic, but once you can think bigger, you make great music.

Okir said...

It's interesting how this idea of focusing on the sequence or on longer phrasing can extend to so many things. I've been ranting to myself (and on my new blog, about multi-tasking (or task-switching), and how it produces output of low quality, while squandering energy. Yet the irony, for teaching, is that it's a multi-tasking job, or rather, it's a job that involves many actions, and it's a job that one does on one's feet; teaching in the classroom is about flexibility and movement, about give and take, about information, listening and permeability, and response. But under stress, both the preparation and the teaching itself can become "multi-TASKING," a jerky process of starting tasks, switching, stopping, starting again -- in a way that tends to make you lose focus. Perhaps if I think more in terms of running phrases (I'm pretty sound-oriented anyway) it might help. What I mean is, to go from task-oriented, to something larger. Maybe it's just something as simple as working from larger principles which help you to prioritize both your tasks and your movements and acts through space in relation to others.... ?

Okir said...

P.S. Randy: I adore Bach, and sometimes I play Bach in the car during my commute, to help me organize my thoughts.

Okir said...

pps: Michelle, I'd like to see how these ideas might translate to your "Dash" poetry!

Okir said...

I'm still on this thread...Interesting, Michelle, that you had your realization while dancing and listening to the Tango. I found the following in an online article about musical phrasing:

"...Within the subset of musical tones, a set given by musical language, each tone assumes a particular temporal shape in musical thought, a shape which governs its amplitude contour, i.e. the way in which the tone itself rises and falls in loudness while retaining its pitch (as well as, where feasible,) shaping its timbre contour).
It turns out, importantly, that these amplitude shapes of individual tones are different in musical thought for each tone of music. The various shapes are not random, but are governed by the sequence and temporal relationships of the tones, i.e. the melodic structure, in a specific way that we have discovered. They have a predictive nature and relate the present tone to the tone to follow, so that without knowing it explicitly , we anticipate in the present tone what is to follow. (my italics) This function contributes also to a very considerable part to what we know as musical phrasing, and its musicality."

I hope that's not too confusing. I didn't even understand the whole essay, but parts of it seemed relevant.

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