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All posts by Dominique Amarante

In talking about “one’s musical style”, one fears sounding like someone talking about himself at a dinner party. Who sees themselves as they really are? I hate talking about myself—“What a bore I must sound like!” In general, I don’t care to hear performers talk about themselves, either, preferring music over words. In a multitude of words is often confusion and diminishing returns. Frequently, the more adjectives one hears in a review, the more disappointing it is when one finally hears the performance.

 

So, what about labels regarding musical style? Everyone wants labels. There’s the label, “Roots,” which probably says more about what the music isn’t rather than what it actually is. When we hear the term, “Roots,” we think we know what it will sound like: maybe blues, old-time, old-school country. Some people might think of  “Roots” music as utilizing only acoustic instruments, while others would include electric instruments as well. Or should “Roots” mean only human voice and percussion, as in so-called “primitive” church music?



It’s skating on thin ice for a performer to self-categorize. Often, he can be wildly wrong. On occasion, I’ve been surprised when people told me they heard “blues” in a particular song, or another as a “love song”, when I’d thought of them very differently. Labels really limit one’s thinking: They’re a construct of what Zen teaching calls “small mind.” I’ve come to the opinion that behind all styles, the qualities that make music effective—reaching the listener— are that of Heart and Soul and Honesty (besides lots of practice!).

I’d rather simply listen and let the music speak for itself. Likewise regarding my listeners: They have ears; they can hear for themselves and find in the music what they will. All the influences will make themselves known, like the spices and flavorings in a well-seasoned meal. I hope you enjoy.

I have had much experience performing music programs in nursing homes, rest homes, and care facilities in the Asheville, North Carolina, area, as well as here in the Raleigh-Durham area. Although I have taken preliminary studies in the field, I am not a professional music therapist. I’ve realized that my path is parallel but distinct from that one and unique to me and my gifts.

Music Therapy has been defined as a process based on a personal, one-on-one, relationship between therapist and client, focused on goals incident to optimizing the client’s health, with music as the vehicle for the change. What I offer is entertainment that is both musical and therapeutic. Though I address an audience, a group, what I express is received individually by each listener, who responds within his or her own personal space, in any manner that best enables them to participate and enjoy the experience.

My experiences observing these responses most satisfying. Patients and residents respond on diverse levels, from subtle changes in posture or facial expression to broad smiles, hand clapping, or even spontaneous dancing. This can be seen as the reciprocal response in that “one-on-one” dynamic and as positive feedback for the performing “therapist.”

There is an enhanced aspect to this rich exchange that occurs when repeat programs are scheduled regularly. I arrive to find residents seated and faces lit up in anticipation. Perhaps this best indicates the positive results of such “Musical Therapy”—-spirits are lifted and burdens lightened. There’s the aphorism from the Book of Proverbs: “A merry heart does good like a medicine.”

Ultimately, what I offer enhances the quality of life for residents and patients, which is ultimately the goal of all forms of therapy.

Thursday, 12 January ’17 Once again had a sweet time at Hillcrest Home in Durham. They are a group of delightful music lovers. They’re located just a few yards across the road from the railroad tracks, and there was an amazing syncronicity that happened when the train came through just as I was getting to the sweet old blues tune, “How Long has that Evening Train been Gone?”.

Wednesday, 21 December, We had a great time doing a mostly Christmas and Seasonal program at Glenaire. We had a large group in the multi-purpose music room/chapel. I particularly enjoy these programs because they give me a chance to share lots of little-known Christmas and Seasonal songs that are really lovely and have interesting histories as well.


Saturday, 12 November, at
the South Durham Farmers’ Market
(About a mile or two south of Chapel Hill Road, (Route 54) at 5140 Route 55, in the corner shopping center where Mel Melton’s old Papa Mojo’s N’Orleans soul food and blues restauraunt used to be (I miss that place!).

I’ll be pickin’ and singinSaturday morning from about 9 to Noon. These markets ar such a blessing–the food available in commercial stores just seems to be getting worse and worse as far as quality. Do yourself a favor and come out and get some real nourishhment, and while you’re at it, give your ears something to feast on as well, some musical soul food!

Saturday, November 5, at Chatham MarketPlace!
Hey all! DA will do a repeat performance at the Chatham Marketplace organic coop in old Pittsboro, NC, this coming Saturday from 2 to 4 PM, approximatlely. They are at 480 Hillsboro Street, just a bit (two or three miles?) north of town. They’re right next door to the Starlight Meadery, which is open to the public. So drop by, listen a bit, have some good organic local grub, and have a nip (not necessarily in that order!), and say hello!

Speaking of creating music—-I often think ofcomposing music as preparing a meal, where one works to put in as much nourishment—substance—as one can. We’ve all heard of “Soul Food,” a term usually with the traditional culture of Black folks in the Deep South. Really though, that quality of “soul” can be found in any ethnic cooking. If you grew up on meals prepared by Italian grandmothers and mothers, you know what I mean. It refers to food prepared by someone putting their heart and “soul” into it, where there’s an intangible quality, unquantifiable, indefinable, irreproducible from a written recipe. It’s called  nourishment, There’s substance to it.  One feels satisfied, nurtured, even, after partaking of such fare.

I believe that it’s the same with creative work. One strives to fill each song or composition with substance—nourishment.  Listeners can feel when someone has put heart and soul into the music. It seems too often that there is less and less substance—nourishment—in everything these days, whether it’s music, food, or sundry items that fill shelves in stores. Yet, at the same time, people hurt for want of that something real. It’s been said, “Man does not live by bread alone.” It’s evident he craves nourishment on a deeper level.

And so, without getting too “high falluting” about it, I aspire, and I believe that all persons engaged in creative pursuits should aspire, to offer fare filled with real substance to their listeners. I don’t write songs oriented to a formula, aiming for a particular “market,” (Sure, people do that and make a good living at it, sometimes an incredible living, and that’s OK.), but rather I’ve striven as best I could to write what comes to me and to make it real.

You Rescued Me  (Shortened Version)