The Neuroscience of Music in Real Time

At my web site I’ve got a new picture of my ugly mug, recently taken by my friend and fellow storyteller, Simon Brooks. I’ve been heavily right-brained all my life, and it shows in my left eye. It’s always slightly larger and more alive than the other one, no matter how much I try to keep my right eye open to look passably normal.

The right hemisphere of the brain–the seat of imagery and intuition–is connected to the left eye via the optic chiasm. Ask any brain scientist. They’ll confirm it. Same thing with the left brain; it’s wired up to the right eye.

You’d think since I use language in my work, it would be the other way around, but nope, the imagery side remains dominant, so I’ve just lived with it since my twenties and worn sun glasses whenever possible.

Of course, in my approach to storytelling, there’s music happening. According to Wikipedia on the Neuroscience of Music, the music part is a bit more complex:

Sequencing

Motor sequencing has been explored in terms of either the ordering of individual movements, such as finger sequences for key presses, or the coordination of subcomponents of complex multi-joint movements.[19] Implicated in this process are various cortical and sub-cortical regions, including the basal ganglia, the SMA and the pre-SMA, the cerebellum, and the premotor and prefrontal cortices, all involved in the production and learning of motor sequences but without explicit evidence of their specific contributions or interactions amongst one another.[19] In animals, neurophysiological studies have demonstrated an interaction between the frontal cortex and the basal ganglia during the learning of movement sequences.[26] Human neuroimaging studies have also emphasized the contribution of the basal ganglia for well-learned sequences.[27]

So it looks as if they’re really not sure what’s going on, other than while creating and playing music, all these regions are firing away together in happy harmony.

I’ve been thinking about all this because coming up in a week, I’ll be doing it in public down in Cambridge, MA, for a return appearance at Grendel’s Den. ODIN AND THOR BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS. Two 12-strings and a harp. Lots of language. Lots of music.

We’ll see how it all spins together this time.

As for my ugly mug, you needn’t worry. Half the audience listens with their eyes closed anyway.

The Takeover Before Christmas

The Takeover Before Christmas
A Rhyme by Odds Bodkin

‘Twas the month before Christmas, fifty-seventh floor.
The Chairman of the Board had just stormed in the door.
All the VPs tugged their collars and started to sweat.
He looked about as mad as a Chairman could get.

He yelled, “I hear there’s competition coming from up north!”
Then he swiped at his iPhone, looking back and forth.
“And yes, I’ve looked into the problem, figured out the cause.
Some old man working nights they call Santa Claus.”

So they filed a complaint with the SEC,
Said this Santa Claus guy’s got a monopoly.
Why, all the children in the world wait for him to appear!
So what if he delivers only one night a year?

So they wrote him out a writ that read from left to right,
Hired a hundred lawyers in case he put up a fight,
And they flew in their choppers up to the North Pole.
From his parka, the Chairman stared out at the cold:

“Santa Claus, Santa Clause, where do you belong?
I’m gonna send you down south to an old folks’ home.
Kick your feet up in the sun on Biscayne Bay,
And let the snow in your soul, melt away.”

Well, Santa welcomed in those hostile takeover guys,
Dressed in striped shirts, suspenders, and little bow ties,
But before he could get in any words edgewise
They slapped him with the writ, then offered compromise.

They said, “It’s cold and you’re old and elves aren’t that much fun.
Wouldn’t you rather be golfing down in the sun?
Where the beach people mingle and play all day?
Here’s a solid gold watch. We’ll give you severance pay.”

But Santa looked at them all and pulled on his glove.
“‘Tis a long way from earth, to heaven above.
And between, there are children. Not all are properly loved.”
And between them the old boy shoved.

But the Chairman said, “Wait! Someone’s getting bilked!
We’ve heard you’ve taken bribes of cookies and milk!
And that you’ve flown without a license in restricted airspace!
So either go down south, Santa, or go down in disgrace!”

Well, they flew old broken Santa down to Key Biscayne,
Where the only snow that ever falls is rain.
They traded in his snowsuit for sandals and lotion,
And left him in a beach chair, looking out at the ocean.

Meanwhile up north, poor Rudolf went out of his mind,
And elves showed up in unemployment lines.
And all the letters from the children lay unopened, unread,
For Santa Claus was gone. The Christmas Spirit seemed dead.

That Christmas Eve, the world’s children, all snug in bed,
Had fitful dreams as chopper blades roared overhead.
Down the chimneys fell presents, all wrapped by machine,
With computer bills that read, “Send no money ‘til spring.”

Meanwhile, down south, old Santa was a different man,
Betting fantasy football and sporting a tan.
He drove a fifty-seven Ford with lots of polished wood,
And instead of reindeer, had horses, under the hood.

But the tan and the shades, they were all just for show.
For though the beaches were white, they weren’t white as snow.
And though on Christmas Eve all the presents came,
To the kids, it just wasn’t the same.

But the TV’s cried out, “Sure the toys are the same!
So somebody else brought them? Hey, what’s in a name?
Oh, yes, and “Dear Santa” letters don’t apply anymore.
Just cross out “North Pole.” Write: “Fifty-seventh floor.”

And sure enough, the next Christmas, all the letters poured in,
All addressed in crayon, filling bin after bin,
And the Chairman saw his future––endless Christmas bull markets––
As he jumped from his limo and told his chauffeur to park it.

But imagine his surprise. His office was a tomb.
His golden parachute was falling toward financial doom.
The firm was in trouble. It was all on his head!
For they’d opened all those letters and every last one had said:

“We the kids of the world, we don’t think it’s funny,
How you took Santa’s love and all that’s left is money.
Our parents think so, too, and promise they’ll assist us.
So either bring Santa back or we’ll boycott Christmas!”

Well, the Chairman, he resigned. I mean, circumstances forced him.
He lost his limo, stocks and bonds. His lovely wife divorced him.
Salvation Army took him in and served him soup and fruit.
Next day he showed up at the mall dressed in a Santa suit.

So Christmas was put back to the way it once had been.
Santa blew out his Ford, but quickly traded it in,
Rounded up all his reindeer, got his elves off the dole,
And headed north listening to rock’n’roll.

Yes, Santa got back to the snow and ice
And started keeping his list of who’s naughty and nice,
And he wrote the world’s kids and said, “Thanks. Glad you missed us.
Peace on Earth. Rudolf’s fine. Oh, and Merry Christmas.”

 


 

Ho Ho Ho and Merry Christmas to All!

EPICS AND CHILDREN’S DOWNLOADS for CHRISTMAS

Epics and Children’s Downloads for Christmas. Explore Odds Bodkin’s Shop for last minute storytelling gifts like The Odyssey: An Epic Telling (four hours) for older kids and teens, The Little Proto Trilogy for the 4-6 year olds in your life, or Beowulf: The Only One for adults who love a classic yarn.

All told with live character voices, music and sounds .

Downloads. Fast. Easy. Direct to your device.

 

“a consummate storyteller” — The New York Times

After the Holidays, A Time for Vikings!

On January 6th at 5 p.m. join Odds Bodkin at Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square for Odin and Thor Battle the Frost Giants, an adult storytelling.

Two wild Viking adventure myths scored on 12-string guitars, introduced with lore while Odds plays Celtic harp. A full evening of entertainment,humor and elemental imagination.

Tickets $15.



SPOKEN WORD WORLDS

“What is it?” asks the ten year old.

“It’s one of Odds Bodkin the Storyteller’s drives. Come on, let’s plug it in.” The parent inserts the Epic Drive into the parent’s computer and a list of titles appears. “Ever heard of The Odyssey?”

“No.”

“Ever heard of Zeus, Athena and the ancient Greek gods?”

“In some books at school.”

“All right. Well, way back when, people didn’t have books.”

“Why not?”

“Because they hadn’t been invented yet. No books. No TVs. No tablets or phones. But they did have stories. And people called Singers of Tales would come to town to tell stories to crowds of people. A famous one was named Homer. The Odyssey is one of his stories. He used voices and music, and people imagined his adventure, like going to the movies in their minds. That’s how Odds Bodkin does it.”

“So there’s no pictures?”

The parent starts to play the recording. The ten year old hears wind, then bird cries and music. A voice from inside a horse fashioned of wood begins to speak. All is danger, and stealth. In the ten year old’s mind, the walled city of Troy appears in the dawn light.

It’s 1300 B.C. and the Odyssey has begun.

That night, the child stays up late, under the covers, listening, since the tale is four hours long.

 

 

 

45% Off Odds Bodkin Storytelling Drives Now through December 10!

Save today on the magical storytelling of Odds Bodkin, all on a flash drive. Voices. Original music. Amazing vocal effects. Classic tales. Award-winning titles.

 

The Beginner Drive $39.95

9 full-length storytelling albums for kids ages 4-7. Includes three movie-length Little Proto dinosaur adventures with songs. Explore here.

 

The Epic Drive $99.95

19 full-length storytelling albums for all ages. Includes The Odyssey, Beowulf Live, David and Goliath and many others. Explore here.

Special bonus: For Odyssey listeners, an autographed Odyssey Adventure Map with all 42 of Odysseus’s adventures across the Mediterranean world.

 

The Master Drive $149.95

Odds Bodkin’s Complete Works. 19 full-length storytelling albums for all ages plus 7 original music compositions and Odds’ 13,000-line epic high fantasy poem, The Water Mage’s Daughter. Explore here.

Special bonus: For Odyssey listeners, an autographed Odyssey Adventure Map with all 42 of Odysseus’s adventures across the Mediterranean world.

Every Time We Get In The Car

Last year Mike repaired my snowblower, and this year he came back, just yesterday, to fix the generator. It now runs like a dream and so here in New Hampshire, I’m finally ready for winter. If you lose power and it’s twenty below, with no furnace going, the water pipes freeze in the walls and burst.

“You know that story you gave me?” he asked. “My kids love it. Every time we get in the car, they want to hear it. Even I like it. The other copy’s in my wife’s car.”

I wasn’t sure what story I’d given him. “Which story was that?”

“Little Proto. They really like Ankles. ‘Play the Ankles part’ they say. You gave me those CDs, remember?”

I hadn’t remembered but did now. “Which story was it?” I asked, having made three Little Proto dinosaur recordings for young kids.

“The one about Magnolia Island.”

Ah, I thought, that was the first one. “How old are your kids?”

“Three and five.”

“Have they heard the other two?”

“You mean there are others?”

“Yeah. Better than the first one, in my opinion. Hang on, I’ll see if I can find them.”

I headed inside and upstairs. Might as well give Mike CDs for his kids. T-Rex Adventure is my favorite, with King Geoffrey the Rex and Old Wrinkles the Triceratops doing their grumpy old men thing while rescuing Proto. I found the two CDs, one with a cracked case but with a playable CD inside (we just sell digital versions these days) and gave them to him.

“My kids are gonna freak out,” he said, smiling and taking them.

“Play the one with the T-Rex on the cover first,” I advised. “It’s really funny in places. You’ll meet Bump. He’s a fun character, like Ankles. Volcano’s Fire is the third story, where Proto’s growing up.”

“Wow, thanks.”

“You’re welcome. Enjoy them.”

Later, at work inside, I heard the generator humming and went to the garage. Mike was finishing up. “I’ll get some ethanol-free gas up in Goshen like you recommended,” I said.

“Makes a huge difference with engines like these.”

“Okay, great. What do I owe you?”

He’d been at the house for over an hour. I was expecting a hundred, maybe a hundred and fifty dollars for the service, since he’d also gotten the snow blower’s drive belts back on. In winter, the snowblower ranks up there with the generator.

“Make it fifty,” he said.

I looked at him.

“Hey,” he said. “You gave me two CDs. My kids are gonna freak out.”

Odds Bodkin’s Shop

 

Storytelling Collections for Families

 

LIKE A BOX FULL OF CD’S IN EVERY ONE!

CLICK AN IMAGE FOR ALBUM TITLES

 

“a modern-day Orpheus”–Billboard Magazine

“one of the great voices in American storytelling”–Wired

 

Do Silicon Valley Execs Keep Their Kids Away From Screens? Yes.

Why do Silicon Valley executives raise their children technology-free? This headline from The Guardian says it all: TABLETS OUT, IMAGINATION IN: THE SCHOOLS THAT SHUN TECHNOLOGY.

They do it because they want their kids to be imaginative and mentally healthy, basically. Looking out over the wasteland of anger, narcissism, teen suicides, obesity and incivility that social media networks have caused in young lives recently, many of these tech wizards are scared for their own kids.

Like King Midas, everything they touched has turned to gold. But don’t forget the old story: When King Midas touches his own daughter, whom he loves, she turns to gold, too. That’s the end of her.

Digital Addiction begins with kids interacting with screens. The colorful, always-changing worlds they find are so much fun that when they’re suddenly without their screens and look up to see the real world around them, it simply moves too slowly. It’s boring. This causes a kind of free-floating, stimulation-seeking depression.

Down through the ages, kids engaged in creative play with toys and role-playing, attempting to do what grownups did, but in miniature. It has always been this way. But not now, not in the dopamine-laden world of video games and social networks. Not unless the kids’ lives are balanced by getting them away from these devices.

It’s ironic. Now that the digital masters of the universe are having families, too, they realize this, smart as they are. Heck, they built these things to be addictive. And yes, they love their kids, too.

So what is the indispensable skill they want their children to develop at these very expensive, very selective kindergartens and elementary schools where less is more?

Imagination.

What grows imagination best?

Creative outdoor play, kids playing with kids, without any adults around.

If that’s not possible, what’s the next best thing?

Storytelling.

As Einstein said, “If you want your child to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.”

Wait a moment, you might say. Odds Bodkin is using digital media at the moment. Isn’t that a bit hypocritical?

Well, no.

That’s because my imagination developed long ago, when I was a kid, playing outside all day, and then, after coming back home, listening to my dad tell me stories.


BUSINESS INSIDER article for more

 

 

 

 

 

TONIGHT: Dark Tales of the Supernatural at Grendel’s Den

“a consummate storyteller”–The New York Times

Join Odds Bodkin tonight at 5 p.m. at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA for a full evening of adult horror tales. Music on Celtic harp, 12-string guitars, 6-string guitar and alto recorder.

No culture exists without supernatural tales, and these come from all over the world, including Colonial New England, Colorado, Russia, China and elsewhere.

Tickets: $15

 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL in Dickens’ Words

Available for the Holidays, here’s a great 1-hour show, A CHRISTMAS CAROL in Dickens’ Words with Odds Bodkin.

Every line in this dramatic reading is drawn from Charles Dickens’ beloved novella. With plenty of Odds Bodkin characters.

Hear a sample:

 

To learn more and book a show, contact www.oddsbodkin.net!