music monday: zoë keating.

zoë keating. photo by lane hartwell.

there is just something about cello music that is just so damn calming. i’ve always been a perfectionist, which my parents trace back to my hair having to be absolutely perfect for gymnastics practice.  i just could not have any bumps in my ponytail.   and once i got to the age that i could do my hair on my own, i spent hours trying to make the perfect ponytail.  and one afternoon, after a particularly stubborn bump wouldn’t flatten out – i simply cut it off.  and then had an interesting bang situation, which was clearly the precursor to layered haircuts.

you’re welcome.

the point is that sometimes the expectations that you set for yourself can be overwhelming.  after i first discovered zoë keating, i would play her music while i was studying for an exam, writing a complex paper for class in the middle of the night, or before any really stressful event, and i felt better.  as if everything would eventually settle down and there would be order again after the chaos, which seems to be strikingly similar to the way that keating creates. layering numerous bits of improvisations, she finds a balance and creates incredibly diverse sounds with just her cello.

as i was reading about zoë keating, in preparation for this post, i found an article on npr that shed some light on why i might find her music so calming.  apparently keating was also affected by her own perfectionism.

“suddenly i’m like, ‘how am i doing this? this seems really difficult. how am i doing this?’ and then, soon enough, [i] wouldn’t be able to play the cello,” keating says, laughing.

she also found herself stunted by stage fright when playing classical music. and eventually, she began improvising and experimenting with her sound, and that freedom from constraints released her nerves and she began to create incredible music.  and that is just beyond impressive.

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