False emotions and Vocal acrobatics

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

False emotions and Vocal acrobatics

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jul 05, 2009 1:21 am

Greetings,

I was talking with a friend last week about "vocal gymnastics" (of the ilk of Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, but even opera singers too) and I told him that whilst I agree it's a certain rare talent (I know I couldn't do it), it wasn't something I personally gained enjoyment from. We had a talk about the voice as a musical instrument, and I was prompted to look further into why it did not appeal to me.

One reason that came to me, which I'd never really thought about before was that it is expressing "false emotion". A significant percentage of songs that get recorded are about love, many of those about very real and personal experiences... but what happens when that love is gone, or the way you feel about something evolves and changes? If the highly emotive lyrics which seemed appropriate at the time are no longer relevant, because you've fallen out of love, is it appropriate to keep singing them? And if those vocal acrobatics were intended to convey that true emotion, is it sincere to keep singing them in the same way as you did before? And if you sing them the same way as they did before, did they ever really represent true emotion?

Some singers or musicians stop playing songs live at a certain point in their career because they no longer feel it valid to be singing that song any more. Such examples are rare and hard to come by, but I find I have more respect for the integrity behind these choices, than to go on singing these songs, performing the vocal acrobatics, and go on "entertaining" others with words and tones that are now so shallow and false.

What are your thoughts on emotions and vocal acrobatics in the name of entertainment?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: False emotions and Vocal acrobatics

Postby Ben » Sun Jul 05, 2009 1:29 am

Hi Retro

Shallow and false according to who?
I mean, the singer sings about his or her experience in the same way that he or she sings to the experience of the listener.

And for the record, I consider all emotion as shallow and false (sankhara), just an interplay of vedanas, cittas and dhammas.
Metta

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Re: False emotions and Vocal acrobatics

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jul 05, 2009 1:37 am

Greetings,

Ben wrote:Shallow and false according to who?


The example we discussed was Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You", which I'm sure you've heard. If that song was written about someone she loved, and if she no longer loved them, would it be valid to keep singing the words "I will always love you", let along doing so with all the associated vocal acrobatics? I don't know the motivations behind the song etc. but we were making a hypothetical case study out of it as surely there are such love songs where the love no longer exists (such is aniccata). Evidently I can't actually give any specific guaranteed examples because I don't know the mindstates of the song-writers. I do also appreciate that certain songs are such "in character", but such songs from the get go are never intended to represent direct emotional expressions of the singer.

Ben wrote:And for the record, I consider all emotion as shallow and false (sankhara), just an interplay of vedanas, cittas and dhammas.


Yes.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: False emotions and Vocal acrobatics

Postby Ben » Sun Jul 05, 2009 1:50 am

retrofuturist wrote:The example we discussed was Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You", which I'm sure you've heard.

Yes, its a peculiar form of auditory torture!

If that song was written about someone she loved, and if she no longer loved them, would it be valid to keep singing the words "I will always love you", let along doing so with all the associated vocal acrobatics?

Does she explicitly mention an individual in question? If so, she might be evoking the emotional response she once had to sing the song. She might also be evoking an emotional response she has about her current husband/boyfriend/lover.

I don't know the motivations behind the song etc. but we were making a hypothetical case study out of it as surely there are such love songs where the love no longer exists (such is aniccata).

Is it necessary to feel love in the moment while singing about love? I think all that's neccesary is to be able to do is be a good communicator and evoke 'that lovin' feeling' in others. And that's what I think a lot of these singers do. I don't think it means that they lack personal integrity. Some of the songs I love best are songs from the early 1960s. When I see Bob Dylan play some of his really early songs, I don't think he lacks integrity because he's matured and in a different head-space.

Ben wrote:And for the record, I consider all emotion as shallow and false (sankhara), just an interplay of vedanas, cittas and dhammas.


Yes.

Metta,
Retro. :)[/quote]
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Re: False emotions and Vocal acrobatics

Postby Individual » Sun Jul 05, 2009 2:07 am

I don't think the nature of the artist necessarily is relevant to the nature of music, because music is not always created mechanically by the artist. Instead, music is often created through the artist, in a magical, spontaneous way that cannot be explained. Even when songs are written, the artist need not necessarily feel the emotion carried by the piece, before and after the song. But, like a good actor, during the song's authorship and performance, they summon the spirit of that performance, for lack of a better word, which is what allows them to make music. And when people listen to music, it is only from similar experiences or the summoning of that same spirit that the feeling can be felt... So, instead of analyzing it, you simply let the music carry you.

So, even if a song is an instrumental, and we don't know who wrote it or why, simply listening to a piece of music can trigger particular emotions.

What you call "false emotions," and "vocal acrobatics," I would call a beautiful memory, a mystical echo from the past, or a kind of audible magic that takes you to a different place and time.

What's your opinion of any of these songs, Retro? Most of them are instrumental and those which have lyrics aren't in English... in fact, they use a chorus (do you expect all the people in the chorus to have the same emotion and past experiences? :lol:) And yet these timeless melodies evoke profound emotion.

Carmina Burana by Carl Orff


1812 Overture (part 1) by Tchaikovsky


Fur Elise by Beethoven


Ave Maria by Franz Schubert


Waltz #2 by Dmitri Shostakovich


Metamorphosis by Philip Glass
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Re: False emotions and Vocal acrobatics

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jul 05, 2009 2:19 am

Greetings Individual,

Individual wrote:What's your opinion of any of these songs, Retro? Most of them are instrumental and those which have lyrics aren't in English...


Generally speaking I like them (except Ave Maria). As you say, the lyrics, where they exist aren't in English so I have no idea what they're intending to communicate... thus the voice can be perceived purely as an instrument, without the conceptualisation inherent in understandable lyrics.

Individual wrote:And yet these timeless melodies evoke profound emotion.


They can evoke profound emotion, but that doesn't mean they necessarily do. Listening and perceiving is a subjective experience.

A lot of songs I like can "evoke profound emotion", but to many people they may evoke a meh response.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: False emotions and Vocal acrobatics

Postby appicchato » Sun Jul 05, 2009 2:28 am

retrofuturist wrote:What are your thoughts on emotions and vocal acrobatics in the name of entertainment?

Hi Paul,

Apples and oranges...what's the (physical) ability to reach a half dozen (or more) octaves with the voice got to do with emotion?...
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Re: False emotions and Vocal acrobatics

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jul 05, 2009 2:44 am

Greetings bhante,

appicchato wrote:Apples and oranges...what's the (physical) ability to reach a half dozen (or more) octaves with the voice got to do with emotion?...


I agree completely... but some people insist that the utilization of such a physical ability does in fact express emotion, and that this automatically makes it a positive thing (even if Ben said, it may be a "peculiar form of auditory torture")?

:shrug:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: False emotions and Vocal acrobatics

Postby genkaku » Sun Jul 05, 2009 3:01 am

Perhaps, as with Buddhist texts or words, the important part is not so much what is expressed as what is evoked. For some, perhaps, a particular piece of music can be a real spine-tingler while the same piece of music can feel phony-baloney to another. Is it an inspiration or just insidious crappola? You tell me.
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Re: False emotions and Vocal acrobatics

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jul 05, 2009 5:09 am

genkaku wrote:Perhaps, as with Buddhist texts or words, the important part is not so much what is expressed as what is evoked.

Yes, that's the key thing with any art: music, visuals, plays, novels, ...
One of the postmodern ideas about art is that the author/performer's opinion on what it "means" doesn't even matter. Tolkein actually says as much in his intro to Lord of the Rings. Something about writing a complex enough story that different people can make many different meanings out of it.

I'm sure I have a very different reaction to Dylan's lines in Desolation Row than those who haven't spent a lifetime studying and teaching Physics. In fact, I'm know I read all kinds of stuff into this verse that Bob couldn't possibly have understood (with or without the drugs...).
Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood
With his memories in a trunk
Passed this way an hour ago
With his friend, a jealous monk
He looked so immaculately frightful
As he bummed a cigarette
Then he went off sniffing drainpipes
And reciting the alphabet
Now you would not think to look at him
But he was famous long ago
For playing the electric violin
On Desolation Row

And, as Bob said:
I'm just a song and dance man...

Which hasn't stopped me from being moved to tears by his performances:
Leave your stepping stones behind, something calls for you.
Forget the dead you've left, they will not follow you.
The vagabond who's rapping at your door
Is standing in the clothes that you once wore.
Strike another match, go start anew
And it's all over now, Baby Blue.

What did Bob mean for me to feel? What was he feeling? Irrelevant.
How do I feel? Devastated...

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Re: False emotions and Vocal acrobatics

Postby Individual » Sun Jul 05, 2009 5:47 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings bhante,

appicchato wrote:Apples and oranges...what's the (physical) ability to reach a half dozen (or more) octaves with the voice got to do with emotion?...


I agree completely... but some people insist that the utilization of such a physical ability does in fact express emotion, and that this automatically makes it a positive thing (even if Ben said, it may be a "peculiar form of auditory torture")?

:shrug:

Metta,
Retro. :)

Anything can express emotion if you know how to use it and teach somebody how to interpret it. Music is moving because our capacity to use it and interpret it is very refined; it's a natural part of our evolution.
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: False emotions and Vocal acrobatics

Postby christopher::: » Sun Jul 05, 2009 7:57 am

Baby Blue! Amazing tune.



I'm not a big Mariah Carey fan, but there's a recording of her singing "Hero" live on television 10 days after September 11th that is very moving. She seems to be aware of a greater meaning to her song at that moment in history. I've never seen or heard her sing it elsewhere, with the same depth of feeling...



Another "pop" vocal performance that for some reason i find moving, Leona Lewis doing Summertime. I have no idea what the song means for her in this performance but i just love the song and find her to be incredibly sexy, lol...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnytX6SoO3g

Speaking of sexy, the women who've assisted with Pink Floyd's Great Gig in the Sky over the years are, like, wow.....



Now, that's some beautiful gymnastics...!

:smile:
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Re: False emotions and Vocal acrobatics

Postby pink_trike » Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:12 am

mikenz66 wrote:
...that Bob couldn't possibly have understood (with or without the drugs...).


How the heck do you have any idea what Bob may or may not have understood?
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Re: False emotions and Vocal acrobatics

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:19 am

christopher::: wrote:Baby Blue! Amazing tune.

I'm not a big Mariah Carey fan, but there's a recording of her singing "Hero" live on television 10 days after September 11th that is very moving. She seems to be aware of a greater meaning to her song at that moment in history. I've never seen or heard her sing it elsewhere, with the same depth of feeling...

And, of course, Dylan caused 9/11 by releasing "Love and Theft" on that date... :spy:

I have a bootleg somewhere of one of the NY concert on November 19. The crowd appreciated the line at the end of "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" where he sings "I'm going back to New York City, I do believe I've had enough..."

Also his comment:
'Most of these songs were written right
here, and if they weren't written here, they were recorded here. You all
should know how i feel about this city...'
http://www.boblinks.com/111901r.html

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Re: False emotions and Vocal acrobatics

Postby Annapurna » Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:44 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

I was talking with a friend last week about "vocal gymnastics" (of the ilk of Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, but even opera singers too) and I told him that whilst I agree it's a certain rare talent (I know I couldn't do it), it wasn't something I personally gained enjoyment from. We had a talk about the voice as a musical instrument, and I was prompted to look further into why it did not appeal to me.

One reason that came to me, which I'd never really thought about before was that it is expressing "false emotion". A significant percentage of songs that get recorded are about love, many of those about very real and personal experiences... but what happens when that love is gone, or the way you feel about something evolves and changes? If the highly emotive lyrics which seemed appropriate at the time are no longer relevant, because you've fallen out of love, is it appropriate to keep singing them? And if those vocal acrobatics were intended to convey that true emotion, is it sincere to keep singing them in the same way as you did before? And if you sing them the same way as they did before, did they ever really represent true emotion?

Some singers or musicians stop playing songs live at a certain point in their career because they no longer feel it valid to be singing that song any more. Such examples are rare and hard to come by, but I find I have more respect for the integrity behind these choices, than to go on singing these songs, performing the vocal acrobatics, and go on "entertaining" others with words and tones that are now so shallow and false.

What are your thoughts on emotions and vocal acrobatics in the name of entertainment?

Metta,
Retro. :)



Hello, Retro,

I was actually wondering, after you expressed dislike for Michael Jackson's music, if you are a classical music fan, because those often have a distinct aversion against "jungle music". :smile:

It doesn't seem that way, though, if you say you don't gain enjoyment (pleasure) from "Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, but even opera singers too".

I was prompted to look further into why it did not appeal to me.


It appears to me as if you are still trying to come to grips with "aversion", and also with enjoyment= pleasure.

I compliment you, and let me assure you that I have my things to work on just as well, so I'm by no means trying to put myself above you, or anybody, my words are intended as a support, a benevolent pointing a dhamma friend to something, as I hope you will also gently point me to things.

No disrespect or anything negative intended.

Anyhow, the question of (a lack of) synchronicity you ask about is highly interesting.

Allow me a question:

Are you a practising artist?

Do you sing, dance, play an instrument, paint, sculpture, work with metal, wood, clay, landscape parks, sow cloth, make jewelry, or write books or poems?

Art is not your livelihood, right?

Because that is the crucial point.

A painter like Picasso paints a picture, sells it, and moves on to the next one.

But he will continue to produce .

A reproducing artist, like a singer, will sing a song 100 or 1000 times to the audience, - but never in the exact same way.

Plus, he cannot afford the luxury, to sing a song that feeds his belly only for one summer.

People love it, and when they fall in love, it speaks to them. Or they are broken-hearted, or cheerful, whatever.

So, the artist is a servant to those people he speaks to with his art.

He gives his special gift and talent to people.

No matter how tired he may be of the song, he will give it, if possible.

And if he is a spiritual person,- which most artists are-, with joy, to those who are touched in their hearts by his art.

Their applause makes him more happy than the money, many say.

They also modify tours.

When Michael Jackson knew that Diana, Princess of Wales, was in the audience, he couldn't sing: "Dirty Diana", because it didn't feel right.

As long as it feels right, artists will sing what they created, (ballett dancers will dance "Swanlake",) because it is a part of their art, is part of their history, and why deny that?

hey love the feedback and I am so sure, because I am an artist myself, and positive feedback is great.

I may not personally like a particular style anymore, because I moved on to something else, but if a customer wants something from an earlier time, I will be more than happy to produce it again.

Don't forget, artists have no other means of income, no unemployment money, and so each dollar is wonderful.

No work, no food.

Same for celebs.

:anjali:

PS: Mariah and Whitney don't sing anything that I would want to buy either. ... :D

But Maria Callas, yes.
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Re: False emotions and Vocal acrobatics

Postby pink_trike » Sun Jul 05, 2009 10:07 am

Annabel wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

I was talking with a friend last week about "vocal gymnastics" (of the ilk of Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, but even opera singers too) and I told him that whilst I agree it's a certain rare talent (I know I couldn't do it), it wasn't something I personally gained enjoyment from. We had a talk about the voice as a musical instrument, and I was prompted to look further into why it did not appeal to me.

One reason that came to me, which I'd never really thought about before was that it is expressing "false emotion". A significant percentage of songs that get recorded are about love, many of those about very real and personal experiences... but what happens when that love is gone, or the way you feel about something evolves and changes? If the highly emotive lyrics which seemed appropriate at the time are no longer relevant, because you've fallen out of love, is it appropriate to keep singing them? And if those vocal acrobatics were intended to convey that true emotion, is it sincere to keep singing them in the same way as you did before? And if you sing them the same way as they did before, did they ever really represent true emotion?

Some singers or musicians stop playing songs live at a certain point in their career because they no longer feel it valid to be singing that song any more. Such examples are rare and hard to come by, but I find I have more respect for the integrity behind these choices, than to go on singing these songs, performing the vocal acrobatics, and go on "entertaining" others with words and tones that are now so shallow and false.

What are your thoughts on emotions and vocal acrobatics in the name of entertainment?

Metta,
Retro. :)



Hello, Retro,

I was actually wondering, after you expressed dislike for Michael Jackson's music, if you are a classical music fan, because those often have a distinct aversion against "jungle music". :smile:

It doesn't seem that way, though, if you say you don't gain enjoyment (pleasure) from "Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, but even opera singers too".

I was prompted to look further into why it did not appeal to me.


It appears to me as if you are still trying to come to grips with "aversion", and also with enjoyment= pleasure.

I compliment you, and let me assure you that I have my things to work on just as well, so I'm by no means trying to put myself above you, or anybody, my words are intended as a support, a benevolent pointing a dhamma friend to something, as I hope you will also gently point me to things.

No disrespect or anything negative intended.

Anyhow, the question of (a lack of) synchronicity you ask about is highly interesting.

Allow me a question:

Are you a practising artist?

Do you sing, dance, play an instrument, paint, sculpture, work with metal, wood, clay, landscape parks, sow cloth, make jewelry, or write books or poems?

Art is not your livelihood, right?

Because that is the crucial point.

A painter like Picasso paints a picture, sells it, and moves on to the next one.

But he will continue to produce .

A reproducing artist, like a singer, will sing a song 100 or 1000 times to the audience, - but never in the exact same way.

Plus, he cannot afford the luxury, to sing a song that feeds his belly only for one summer.

People love it, and when they fall in love, it speaks to them. Or they are broken-hearted, or cheerful, whatever.

So, the artist is a servant to those people he speaks to with his art.

He gives his special gift and talent to people.

No matter how tired he may be of the song, he will give it, if possible.

And if he is a spiritual person,- which most artists are-, with joy, to those who are touched in their hearts by his art.

Their applause makes him more happy than the money, many say.

They also modify tours.

When Michael Jackson knew that Diana, Princess of Wales, was in the audience, he couldn't sing: "Dirty Diana", because it didn't feel right.

As long as it feels right, artists will sing what they created, (ballett dancers will dance "Swanlake",) because it is a part of their art, is part of their history, and why deny that?

hey love the feedback and I am so sure, because I am an artist myself, and positive feedback is great.

I may not personally like a particular style anymore, because I moved on to something else, but if a customer wants something from an earlier time, I will be more than happy to produce it again.

Don't forget, artists have no other means of income, no unemployment money, and so each dollar is wonderful.

No work, no food.

Same for celebs.

:anjali:

PS: Mariah and Whitney don't sing anything that I would want to buy either. ... :D

But Maria Callas, yes.

Well, said.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Re: False emotions and Vocal acrobatics

Postby Annapurna » Sun Jul 05, 2009 10:45 am

Thank you :anjali:
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Re: False emotions and Vocal acrobatics

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun Jul 05, 2009 11:05 am

i spent most of my late teens and part of my 20s in bands had cds and records, played concerts , toured with bands, saw many friends get famous, get almost famous fail, kill themselves etc. the 90s were a great/interesting time for me. i also wrote for underground music zines so i was flooded with gazillions of cds and records to review (basically spoiled me so much that to this day i still cant pay for music)

there is something that some artists have, something "authentic" that some people are able to pick out while others simply can not. there is a difference between having talent and inspiration

talent is severly overrated
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Re: False emotions and Vocal acrobatics

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:33 pm

Greetings Annabel,

Annabel wrote:I was actually wondering, after you expressed dislike for Michael Jackson's music, if you are a classical music fan, because those often have a distinct aversion against "jungle music". :smile:


That's franky absurd, Anna. I think you know it too. (for the record, I'm not a big classical music fan either... though it's alright)

Annabel wrote:It appears to me as if you are still trying to come to grips with "aversion", and also with enjoyment= pleasure.


I still can't fathom how you cannot differentiate between not being a fan of something and aversion. Do you like every song, every movie, every book, every piece of artwork ever created? Surely not, but that doesn't mean you need to feel aversion towards those things you don't like, does it? It just doesn't interest you... doesn't float your boat, as it were. Aversion is an unwholesome mindstate (a specific term with a specific meaning) which causes suffering. If I had aversion towards ever song I don't like, I think I would be insane by now. Are you seeing the difference yet?

Annabel wrote:Are you a practising artist?


I've made a bit of music in my time but I wouldn't call myself an "artist" - I just like music.

For me, the artistic integrity of the performer, is quite a significant factor too. Often those performers feel the same way too



Annabel wrote:As long as it feels right, artists will sing what they created, (ballett dancers will dance "Swanlake",) because it is a part of their art, is part of their history, and why deny that?


Sure, I'm not saying they can't... it just doesn't float my boat. They can do what they want for all I care. It's just not what I'll be getting into.

Annabel wrote:PS: Mariah and Whitney don't sing anything that I would want to buy either. ... :D

Shall I scream aversion at the top of my lungs? No.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: False emotions and Vocal acrobatics

Postby Journey » Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:53 pm

Annabel

"if you are a classical music fan, because those often have a distinct aversion against "jungle music". :smile:


I prefer Bach over Beethoven, this just is my personal taste, no aversion. However, if I spent my time hyping up the anti, proselytizing for or against and going out of my way to tell Beethoven supporters that he was not that great, then there is a good chance that an unwholesome mindstate like attachment or aversion is at play.
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