If summer had a soundtrack

In summer, the song sings itself.

~William Carlos Williams

The occasional chilly breeze, the back-to-school commercials, and the opening of Exhibition Place all remind me of one inevitable truth: this summer, too, shall pass.

This has me wondering: If summer had a soundtrack, which songs would it include?

I don’t just mean summer 2010, I mean all the songs that have ever made people appreciate the season in which there’s something almost transcendental about having a nap in a swaying hammock during the day.

And after night cloaks you in starlight, which songs make you want to get up and move your body in ways that would make pale winter blush?

In short: picture yourself with your feet dangling in the cool waters of a pool, with something refreshing in hand, and surrounded by stringed patio lights. You feel relaxed. You feel like you can anything could happen during this midsummer night’s dream.

What song would you want… no, need to hear? Please, comment below or email me at ef.carletti@gmail.com


Tofino and teenage love songs

Tofino, Vancouver Island
All photographs by Fabiola Carletti

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As I stood on the shores of MacKenzie beach in Tofino, I was overwhelmed by feelings of nostalgia. Although it was the first time I’d ever seen a much loved beach in the surfer town, it reminded me of a song I fell in love with as a teenage girl.  I felt, on those cool April evenings during off-season, like the luckiest person to have ever watched the waves write poetry onto the sand.

Forgive my sentimentality, but we often forget to marvel at the world.

Wish you were here

I dig my toes into the sand
The ocean looks like a thousand diamonds
Strewn across a blue blanket
I lean against the wind
Pretend that I am weightless
And in this moment I am happy…happy

I wish you were here (x4)

I lay my head onto the sand
The sky resembles a back lit canopy
With holes punched in it
I’m counting UFOs
I signal them with my lighter
And in this moment I am happy…happy

I wish you were here (x4)

The world’s a roller coaster
And I am not strapped in
Maybe I should hold with care
But my hands are busy in the air saying:

I wish you were here

I wish you were…

I wish you were here (x4)

The Deepest Wilderness: UBC student was a ‘missing person’

Originally posted at the blog: Secret Lives of UBC students

Robert Singley, PhD candidate in composition at the UBC School of Music

There’s something wrong with Glastenbury Mountain, at least according to local lore in Bennington, Vermont.

Many people, especially watchers of the paranormal, have ominous theories about that stretch of the Appalachian Trail. A number of people are said to have gone missing there.

But none of this fazed Robert Singley, a PhD candidate at UBC, who used to hike the trail when he lived in Bennington. That is, until the day he too got lost in the woods.

Two years ago, while hiking back to his car, Singley became disoriented.

“I still think I was sucked through some sort of time space continuum,” said the composer, who channels his long hikes into creative impetuses for his music.

“All I know is that it got dark. It got foggy,” he said, adding that head lamp he’d brought with him wasn’t working. “I followed the trail for as long as I could see it, but then I lost the trail and I was totally alone in the woods.”

As his girlfriend worried at home, Singley struggled to find his way out of an area with an eerie reputation.

Some call it Bennington’s triangle, a reference to the mysterious Bermuda triangle. Others tell tales of a Bennington monster. And still others refer to Native American stories of rocks that swallow people up in this place where the four winds meet.

Regardless of which stories Singley believed, if any, there was no doubt he was in for an unusual night.

Robert examines the type of wood that "saved his life." Photo by Frank Singley

Next came the rain. The young American’s attempts to make a fire became futile and he eventually lay down from exhaustion.

“Later I started to shiver and I knew I was starting to get hypothermia,” said Singley. He got back up and started to look for kindling. Instead he was alarmed to find animal bones.

But somehow, in this precarious situation, Singley found a way to calm himself.

Listen to Robert Singley explain what was going through his head that night, and why he turned it into music:
An excerpt of his wilderness-inspired string quartet [audio here]

In the end, Singley managed to survive the night–largely thanks to finding a birch tree with highly flammable bark and coming up with wilderness-inspired musical ideas. In the morning, he ran into police that had been searching for him, and the local newspaper featured his story as an escape from danger.

But Singley heard his experience differently: “It was a magical experience, quite life affirming,” he has written.

In fact, in his work as a composer, he has tapped into the “non-directionality” he felt that night, creating music that is not heading in any direction–as in Escher’s staircase–and that values the journey as a series of individual steps.

“Getting lost really solidified these ideas for me, of just being happy wherever you are.”