Ruth Kavanagh - Arts Educator
Social activist, "Elemental Native" shaman/visionary, harmonist, playwright , performer, director/producer, choreographer and costume maker/ designer, roadie, etc. for "Power of Rhythm Multi-Cultural Variety Show"
As you can see, Ruth has also led an interesting life! The ideas and concepts for her many and diverse projects have evolved from her intense interest in people, her knowledge of the power of public education, and the "act" in activism.Currently, Ruth and her partner, Fred, are working on and performing in the entertaining and educational workshops as the "Elemenal Native" for "Power of Rhythm."
Join her and her partner, with special guests, on October 1, Canada's International Music Day....and Night at the Hamilton Place Studio Theatre and experience the elemental, playful and intuitive Power of Rhythm for yourself!
At present, she is touring with her partner, Fred, throughout the Golden Horsehoe area fairs and festivals as one of the "Elemental Natives" for the "Power of Rhythm Multi-Cultural Variety Show" She is also writing and researching the "prequel/sequel" to the "pointed and playful social commentaries" that is the movie "Changeling/ The Bond."
* Length of workshop-show : 60 minutes
* Dynamic, participatory,interactive performance.
The audience will experience the intuitive, elemental and playful origins of world-folk music, story-telling, song and dance through a series of "show and tell", hands-on activities and performance.
* Examining musical form in structure by ear with emphasis on drumming, voice and dance.
* Using the Medicine Wheel of our First Nation's People to illustrate the ancient, elemental, child-like and intuitive musical origins and evolution through traditional to modern innovative music, song and dance.
PHILOSOPHY VISION STATEMENT of my "inner-Childe's Ambition."
Welcome to my elemental playful and intuitive Worlds Within! This is what work s for me, this, my admittedly fey, idealistic and visionary "inner Childe's ambition" for a spiritually and physically viable and ultimate world harmony between the diversity and common ground of the 4 races, and the very real need in this time and place particularily for all nations to simply do....what works best....Faery 'Nuff?
Once upon a time, there lived a quiet little girl who did not seem to fit in anywhere! She was "different," TOO "different" from the other kids in ways that puzzled her. For instance, they could not seem to tolerate her "different-ness" very well, let alone try to understand them. Apparently, she "looked different," "acted different," "talked different," "dressed different," and she definitely "thought different," too! She simply could NOT understand why the other kids hated and bullied her so much. SHE didn't care if other people were "different."
She thought those kids were TOO much the SAME as each other. Her mother said it was because they thought she "was just TOO different" to these kids, but, she still could not understand why that would be a real reason to hate someone so deeply as her classmates seemed to....
Just because of these reasons?
Of course, she KNEW she was poor, and her clothes were not as nice as the others....and she DID come from another country. Yes, THAT, that WAS "different," of course! But they also said she "talked funny," too, with an accent that made them laugh and mock, falling to the ground in their choking hilarity. That hurt. Alot. She often thought that THEY were "different," and "talked funny, too," but knew it would be too rude to point this out.
All her life long, she never WOULD be able to understand why someone would hate her for what she was....what she could not change....herself. TO BE CONTINUED....
It has been my experience, and habit, that often, when I need to know what to do, or say in any given situation, that the first thing I do is consult with my "inner child" for help. Using the elemental, clear and uncompromising eyes of a child, I can usually, and very creatively solve most problems that come my way. I believe that the wisdom of the ages lies in the "old sayings", the "familiar quotations" now worn to cliches, yes, even slang, and so-called "buzz-words" contain their kernel of wisdom.
During research for this project, I was continually surprised about how very much "common ground" I found between the various cultures. There are so many old sayings that are common knowledge! and so very many new ways to apply or combine old knowledge with new....
Personally, I have found one of the best and easiest ways to do, or "access" this "old-new" wisdom requires the creative use and attitude of the impishly audacious "beginner's mind", where the only limit is the imagination.....
The self-taught "Elemental Native" within enthusiastically and naturally delights in expressing the many qualities of the power of rhythm, gleefully daring, learning through trial and error, exploring and expressing the intuitive, ancient and true meaning of folk and tribal music, song, and dance within the sometimes surprising, but always inventive mixing and matching of the cultures, genders, and mythologies of Caucasion, African,Asian, and our own First Nation's People.
FOR YOUR INFORMATION....
Notes on the Four Races.
First Nation's People
From the earliest of ceremonial functions, through the rise of popular powwow dances, to the more recent mergings with country, gospel and New Age, Native music has adapted to changing circumstances without ever letting go of its roots.
Native music, whether traditional or popular, is virtually unknown to the general public. Other aspects of Native culture, such as dance, graphic arts, the traditional lifestyle and even religious philosophies, have provoked widespread interest, both serious and romantic.
Which makes it all the more puzzling that the market for this music, live or on hundreds of available recordings, is still almost entirely restricted to the millions of Native people who live on reservations or communities in the big cities.Perhaps the main reason for this indifference is that most Native music is markedly different from that of the Europeans in both sound and function.
-even Native people themselves may hear little of it, since it's often confined to very specific geographical areas and tribes.At present, the only form of Native music that has had a wider hearing is the New-Age cross-over.
The European invaders of the Americas encountered a land already occupied by immigrants from Asia (so the anthropological evidence suggests) whose ancestors had arrived some 30,000 years earlier. They had perfected a way of life that recognized no private ownership of land and hence no aristocracy; there was an overwhelming respect for the rights of the individual, and religious persecution was unknown.
The vehicle of traditional Native music is the human voice, often accompanied by rattles or drums. The voice is raw and robust, suited to the outdoors, and ranges from a piercing falsetto, to a measured bass.
Ceremonial music is usually sung in unison by a male chorus, and involves much repetition to make for easy learning and a group feeling.Much of the music starte high and moves downward, ending with a strong repetition of the key note.
Native fairs and other intertribal gatherings served to relieve the monotony of reservation life and revive old memories, and culminated in the birth of the powwow, its name taken from the Algonkian word for a priest or ceremonial practitioner.
Now gaining wider popularity, the fusion of traditional music with New Age nature/synthetic sounds, is well worth a listen.
The interest in Celtic culture, and music in particular, owes a large debt to the folk music revival of the 1960's, spearheaded by singer-songwriters and kick-started by Bob Dylan. The singers, players and bands began to investigate their own roots more thoroughly, and to unearth a rich and exciting Celtic tradition.
The impetus came most forcefully from Ireland, where the Celtic traditions had been camoflaged for a while in the towns, but has been kept very much alive in the rural areas and village bars.
Most of the instrumental music the visitor will hear in Ireland is dance music. Originally played in kitchens, barns and at crossroads, for weddings, wakes and seasonal celebrations, it was for centuries the recreational and social expression of Irish people and nowadays it evokes the same response as it did then-get up and dance!
Nearly all Irish tunes conform to the same basic structure: two eight-bar sections or strains, each of which is played twice to make a 32-bar whole, which is then repeated from the top.
The majority of dance tunes are reels and jigs, but every musician must be able to play hornpipes, polkas, slides, mazurkas, scottiches, and highlands.
Although formal classes exist, the tradition is an oral one, with tunes being handed on from player to player in performance, and the repertoire is constantly changing as new tunes are added and others shed. The arena in which this takes place is the session.
The session is the life-blood of traditional music, which usually takes place in a pub, the temples of Irish traditional music culture
The instrumental repertoire is, as already described, mainly made up of dance tunes. But there is also a group of instrumental pieces known as Fonn Mall- "slow airs"- played without accompaniment and usually to hushed attention. Most of them are laments or the melodies of songs, some of which are of such great age that the words have been lost.
Madagascar: Indian Ocean music
When the island of Madagascar broke away from East Africa many millions of years ago to exist in relative isolation in the Indian Ocean, it prepared the way not only for separate evolution of it's unique flora and fauna, but eventually for a distinct cultural development as well.
Madagascar is an island of puzzles and surprises.The varied landscape and architecture could convince you that you were in central Europe, or West Africa, or the high Andes, or maybe Asia with its terraced rice fields.
You look at the people and they could possibly be Indonesian, or Asian, or African, or South American.The racial origins of the Malagasy would certainly explain the almost Polynesian harmonies that are found in the music of the Merina, the highland people. And a lot more can be traced back to the slave trade, those Welsh missionaries and French colonialists.
Madagascar's most famous instrument is the valiha, a tubular zither made from bamboo with around 21 strings running lenghtways all around the circumference, lifted and tuned by small, moveable pieces of bamboo or calabash. Traditionally, the strings were strands of bamboo skin lifted from the surface, but nowadays they tend to be steel, giving a sound similar to a harp or the West African kora.
Although it's typically a highland plateau instrument, nevertheless all over the island you will find remarkable traditional valiha players such as Mama Sana, an incredible 100 year-old singer from the west coast who wears coins braided in her hair and attacks her instrument with the ferocity of a Mississippi blues guitarist.With its myriad other connections to anywhere and everywhere, it seems as if all the music in the world has bumped into Madagascar at some time or other in history. Or did it all start here and wander off somewhere else? This is the island enigma.
Japan is, after America, the world's largest market for recorded music-and its appetite is voracious. The Japanese are into just about every kind of rock music, not to mention bluegrass, reggae and salsa, and in each genre they have top-class bands of their own.
There are also strong Japanese native musics, too, from the sentimental enka ballads to the contemporary roots music of Okinawa.Each year towards the end of August, the Okinawans pay respect to their ancestors. This festival is known as Ei-sa. Groups of sanshin (three-stringed Okinawan banjo) players, taiko drummers and a massed chorus of paranku hand drummers and dancers take to the streets or perform around local shrines, often through the night.
It's an event quite unlike any other in Asia, blending as it does traditions from mainland Asia and the Pacific.
Gagaku court music, established some 1200 years ago, is the oldest surviving music in Japan. There are nearly twenty instruments used in gagaku, ranging from sho, a reed-pipe mouth organ, to drums, gongs, flutes and chimes. Except for kangen, most of the music is monophonic. Sometimes it sounds like cats being tortured, sometimes it is melodious and meditative.
The term kayokyoku, or "fusion" came into widespread useage just after WW2, when it was applied to a whole range of local popular styles that emerged from the fusion between Japanese music and imported styles like jazz, R&B and country and western.
Musical synthesis has had a long and fruitful history in Japan.
Power of Rhythm Fred May and Ruth Kavanagh
Links to Other Sites
Power of Rhythm Links