An introduction to the video presentation featuring Linda’s photographs and piano playing.

I liked discovering how the antenna of the butterfly and shape of the flower (ironweed) share similarities of form.

Sometimes it can be a challenge choosing a topic to write about. There are times my brain feels like a blank slate – or perhaps an unfilled garden space. I have enjoyed reading a British blog on gardening called Digdelve (link below) written by John Davies, a gardener, designer, and nursery owner. He recently wrote of the “rhythms” of the spring season and how plants and our lives intersect in ways unique to each of us. This got me thinking about an essay I read a long time ago by Aaron Copland, “How We Listen to Music.” He felt one of the most important aspects of music was rhythm. It is interesting to ponder how musical and artistic worlds intersect with the landscapes we create and admire.

The Chopin Etude (composed 1836) that I am currently working on was described as a “ poem” and named “The Aeolian Harp” (a harp played by the wind) by Robert Schumann after hearing Chopin play this piece. There is a beautiful melody line running through the entire piece surrounded by chordal/harmonic patterns that range from fragile delicacies to ones of great power and emotion. Each measure has four beats, and most every beat has six notes in the right and left hands. This makes 48 notes per measure, some with large jumps and spans that should sound seamless. It is indeed challenging to play.

Though tempted, I have not edited the musical component of this blog. The pieces are played straight through from beginning to end. For me, despite the need for multiple retakes, this feels more in keeping with what I see in nature/gardens and what I experience in life. It has taught me to make peace with imperfections, and treasure the beauty in life without imposing my need for control.

The harmonies embedded in this etude are rich in texture, just as seen in a beautiful woven tapestry – or a well-designed garden. Each set of notes, in its chosen musical key, often expresses unique feelings. Major keys that sound “happy” are just one note different from their minor key (“sad”) partners. In addition, some harmonies contain notes that seem to “clash,” adding surprise, tension, excitement, and, ultimately, resolution. This dissonance is part and parcel of the harmonic structure of music and life. Some composers (and listeners) actually see different colors related to the musical key. Harmony at its best is like a detailed color wheel superimposed on our complex personal stories.

I have studied this piece through my entire piano experience, in almost every decade of my life. It has been part of the standard repertoire of many piano students for over 150 years. With each re-study, the piece becomes a lens that looks into my life and world. Currently, the turmoil in the Ukraine has influenced my understanding of this piece. The conflict is creating a refugee crisis of great enormity, reminding me of Chopin’s refugee status and its influence on his musical life. Recently, I was deeply moved by a social media entry (thanks to Alouette Iselin) of a Ukrainian teenage girl, surrounded by the destruction of war, playing this very etude on her piano. I wish we could weave our way through our differences as skillfully as Chopin constructed this etude.

My photo theme focuses on the way harmony of color, form, and texture is utilized in the garden. I am greatly inspired by the Japanese gardens that I have visited. To my surprise, even the dry (gravel) gardens created a mood of harmony, introspection, and peace that connected me to our larger world. I plan to create one of my own – more on that, later.

I hope the selected photographs and the music of Chopin bring harmony to you. I think we can all benefit from experiencing our world from this vantage point and continue to grow in meaningful ways.

The modern Japanese garden at a museum in Kanazawa that brought me to tears. The use of water, reflective surfaces, and its seeming simplicity of design was more moving than I had expected.

This is an example of a “dry” gravel garden incorporated with plants, moss, against a white wall backdrop. For me, the harmonious construct created a quiet introspective garden experience that was quite moving.

The smallest of spaces magically create a contemplative mood through the harmonious use of sound, water, moss, rocks, and bamboo.

A section of my garden, without colorful flowers, that Is interesting to me for the way the leaf colors, shapes, and textures harmonize….by blending and contrasting with each other.

See and hear Linda’s video, Harmony in nature, music, and gardens