Words are deserting me 
After all, it may be a good thing 
Gone gone gone 
all traces of lucid thinking 
the neat examples 
the accurate metaphors 
all vanished all gone
leaving just a dumb empty nothing 
a very articulated inability 
to understand to explore 
to interpret to create 
all's  gone 
so now I have 
a desert that used to be an ocean 
and a ship that ignores the wind



The balls fall all around the place with bombing-raid strepitus. And not for the first time, today. Serenely, the Master Juggler combs his beard with ancient, slightly twisted fingers, looking into his pupil's eyes with piercing insight. 

The Master’s eyes are deep blue, gentle, aged, small, and extraordinarily alive. There is no trace of aggression nor disapproval on his regard. Not ever. Yet, it is common for students to feel small, insignificant, as if swallowed by the Master's glance; such is the power and command that emanates from his presence.

Poor Bruno cannot hold it any longer and let go a frustrated sigh. He looks at the balls, still moving on the floor, finding their new balance. He feels fragile, unreliable, almost useless. Bruno frowns, and a “I will keep trying even if it takes forever” sign can be clearly read in his forefront...

- I have told you a million times, son… perhaps more: first get the idea, then the parts will come by themselves... What is the use of thinking in the balls when you cannot even see yourself juggling them? I can feel the tension in your neck just by listening to you, son. Watch that. Tension in your neck will ruin your life, and I do not mean just the juggling part…

- Yes, Master… You are right… Perhaps am I throwing the balls too high, Master?

- Oh, Bruno, those questions again…! Do not expect me to correct you at that level. Height, width... This will not matter, eventually… No analysis will take you there, no, no, no… Nothing like that. Just lovely, delightful, patterns, Bruno… Look at me.

Bruno motions towards the nearest ball with the intention of picking them all, but the Master stops him with a gentle gesture, drawn in the air without breaking his concentration.

Then the Master throws seven imaginary balls into the air, one by one. He barely moves, but Bruno can feel admiringly the path followed by each imaginary ball, the arch described by the old man’s eyes, tracking the orbit of each one, the arms and hand muscles cycling through a perfect pattern of motion and relaxation. Here it is, working as a living example: the often mentioned triple E: Essence, Economy, and Equilibrium. “Damn old man is freaking good, he’s the fucking best”, thinks Bruno. After his Master’s magisterial display, he feels his passion for juggling growing again.   

- You see? Juggling seven or five or eleven balls is pretty much the same thing, son. You just need to stop thinking on the seven balls. Actually, what you need to stop is thinking, period. At least, stopping that kind of thinking. Please.

- But Master, what kind of... mind engagement do I need to juggle the seven balls?

- Mind engagement… goodness gracious me! Youth is full of wordy words, these days...! Listen, son: unless you have some sort of power to counteract the laws of gravity, a possibility that I seriously doubt, you just shut up for a while, do not dare thinking, and watch for the patterns... Please do not mess up with my proverbial serenity. Even we masters have our limits, son.

- Yes Master… Sorry, Master… I did'nt want to upset...

- … right now, you might be a reasonable juggler in the moon, at zero gravity, but here in the earth you are as lousy a juggler as they can get, my dear Bruno... And the moon talk, if you do not mind me saying, is beyond the point:  being a juggler in the moon would be as profitable as delivering pizzas in the earth, do not you think?

- Yes master, you are always so right. You really help me to widen my horizons. I know, I keep forgetting... First the idea... I am sorry, this seven-ball routine is hard, Master... Please be forgiving... I am trying...

Bruno is very tall and too thin. His limbs are too long, his head comparatively small. This gives him an air slightly extraterrestrial, especially when he bends his body to interact with the small figure of his Master. He looks like a friendly visitor from Saturn.

- … Yes, you are trying, Bruno,  and this is exactly the problem. Trying. Would you please do yourself a favor and stop trying? This is not about keeping seven balls in the air, but rather...

Bruno looks confused, and interrupts the Master's discourse.

- ... What? You say it is not? Forgive me again, dear Master, but now I am really confused... I thought I was learning a juggling routine here... And a deadly difficult, at that.

- ... and as long as you surrender your faith to that stupid idea, the balls will keep falling over your empty head until they break it open! Do not you see? Sometimes your stubborness allows me to contemplate the boundaries of my own patience. At that point I may start to throw the balls, aiming at your head. Fair warning.

- Sorry Master... So before I throw the balls I have to imagine myself doing the routine... am I right?

- Stop using that filthy word, routine! Juggling is about everything but routine! Focus on your senses, relax, be aware... That is about it. 

- Yes, Master. Sorry, Master...

- Take care of your senses and the balls will take care of themselves...

- Master, I have heard that one before, but different, somehow. Ain' t that a victorian saying? Something like "Take care of the pence and the pounds will take care of themselves"? And I believe I read it in Alice in Wonderland, if I am not mistaken, but all messed up...

- Exactly! You may be in your way to become a terribly incompetent juggler, but at least you are well read. That is already something! There is hope, Bruno, there is hope... I am very happy you know Lewis Carroll... For the first time in months of training, you have surprised me. Congratulations.

- Thank you Master...! Your words fill me with motivation.

- But see how Carroll took and old conservative and assholic piece of Victorian bigotry, and used it to make a delightful joke with it. Carroll's version says "Take care of the sense and the sounds will take care of themselves".  Instead a refrain to stimulate boring saving habits, he made a wise remark on how the whole idea must precede to the details... The idea here being that while you are worrying about the balls, they keep falling...You see...?

- Yes, Master. They keep falling, this is undeniable...

- ... You need more of the whole picture and less of the details, so to speak. In other words, I do not give a damn about the fucking balls, and pardon my french. OK. Now pick up the balls again.

The pupil picks up the seven coloured balls scattered around the room.

- Now, you have done this before... The fact that you did it with less balls is irrelevant. And before you ask, let me say that the initial secret is how you launch the balls into the air. Practice that, but avoid the tyranny of soulless repetition. Your juggling act will be an act of defiance and flexibility, son... 

- Defiance, Master?

- Let me tell you something that helped me in my young years. It may come as a surprise to you, but the balls do not fall into the floor. They fall into the air, instead, and there they find their form. Come on, Bruno! You have enough juggling skill to do this. So instead preventing the balls from falling, just be there and allow them to spin around you, son.

- Like a flowing aura, Master?

- Well... yes! While they are around you, you make them flow. Practice now with five. It is just a trick to numb the part of your mind we do not need here. The difficulty is about the same.

Bruno seems confident now. The five balls leave his hands and find their paths like tiny planets. The Master observes his tall body with some satisfacion. For some precious moments, the day hours no longer drizzle, and the late afternoon is just a wild solar spot, a point, a moving aura. Then Bruno suspends the motions and picks the balls graciously in midflight.

The Master observes him. Without asking for permission, Bruno takes the two remaining balls from the floor, and launch them all into the air, like words, seven, one by one, with a beautiful cadence. Soon after, they all orbit in harmonious consonance, changing their patterns like the waters of a fountain in a festive day.

It is a true stellar dance, a quiet, serene rebellion against physics. A gracious subatomic spinning particle of a much larger world.  

"It is a feel, then!". The thought crosses Bruno's mind, wordlessly. He laughs loudly, and just then, a letany of words jump from Bruno's mouth, and start dancing together with the planets, while he juggles effortlessly: 

"...the drill, the mill, the will, the skill, the prill, the frill, the swill, the thrill, the chill..."

... then STILL.



Composers pay attention to daydreams.

A Wandering mind is creative.

When your mind wanders, follow it.

Remember when you have been.

Memory and imagination are partners.

                     Bruce Adolphe (What to listen for in the World)



TODO-PARTES-TODO, ou WHOLE-PARTS-WHOLE, é um dos conceitos estruturantes do curriculum da Comprehensive Musicianship, e da Teoria da Aprendizagem Musical de E. Gordon. Basicamente, é um princípio que reconhece a estrutura da nossa biologia, perante o acto da aprendizagem. Analisam-se as partes de um problema, para depois integrar essas partes numa unidade maior que as contém. Qualquer objecto que se possa aprender – matéria ou pensamento – tem TODO e tem PARTES.

Esta dualidade essencial TODO/PARTES representa a dicotomia entre a visão global e a visão detalhada; entre um conceito generalizador da matéria, e os itens particulares que podemos analisar separadamente.

O TODO e as PARTES estão presentes na vagarosa formação dos conceitos durante a idade infantil. Quantos exemplos concretos de animais relativamente inofensivos de quatro patas precisamos de observar, até refinar o nosso conceito de “cão”, de forma a excluir categoricamente gatos e outros quadrúpedes? Quantas viaturas (“popós”) até diferenciar claramente uma carrinha ou um camião de um ligeiro, usando a palavra certa? Alimentamos a nossa experiência, e logo usamos essa experiência para formar as categorias que estruturarão o nosso pensamento durante o resto das nossas vidas.

Mas a riqueza do princípio TODO-PARTES-TODO não se extingue aqui. Os estudos de lateralização cerebral mostram que o nosso substrato biológico favorece a aparição destas duas atitudes perante o processamento da informação. O pensamento de dominância esquerda está ocupado com a análise, com os pormenores, com o processamento serial da infindável lista de itens que povoam os nossos conceitos. O
pensamento de predominância direita é encarregue dos conceitos, das associações, das experiências contínuas.

Consideremos o par análise/síntese, outro exemplo da dialéctica que cruza transversalmente a história da inteligência, das tentativas de nos compreendermos a nós próprios, de fazer avançar o nosso conhecimento como espécie, e de construir a partir da herança dos nossos antepassados. Quando analisamos, reduzimos o TODO às suas componentes para as submeter a um escrutínio pormenorizado. Quando sintetizamos, fazemos o caminho inverso: valorizamos as relações de semelhança entre itens para os incluir numa categoria superior que os define e caracteriza.

A distinção geral/particular é análoga. Do pensamento indutivo diz-se que vai do particular ao geral (isto é, generalizando observações particulares), enquanto o pensamento dedutivo faz o percurso contrário, partindo de conceitos gerais aceites para tirar conclusões irrefutáveis ao nível dos factos.

McCarthy e Kolb distinguem diferentes estilos de aprendizagem, caracterizados precisamente pelo seu posicionamento relativamente às coordenadas experiência/abstracção e acção/reflexão, o que não será alheio às descobertas dos estudos de lateralização cerebral.

TODO-PARTES-TODO descreve da forma mais simples a complexidade da aprendizagem humana, a necessidade de uma visão temperada por uma perspectiva flexível sobre a matéria estudada, que possa ser, alternadamente, a panorâmica geral que vemos desde a janela de um avião e a visão microscópica que nos permite captar os pormenores com a melhor definição possível.

Analogamente, o pintor olha de perto o pormenor que acabou de fazer com o seu pincel, e um momento depois, recua alguns passos para observar o efeito global desse gesto, integrado no conjunto. Essa observação global irá ditar o próximo movimento do pincel. Em música, trabalhamos o pormenor de uma articulação como um ourives, mas precisamos de verificar o efeito desse trabalho no contexto. TODO-PARTES-TODO será assim um ciclo infinito de revisão e crescimento.

Texto e Contexto. Eis outra dimensão do conceito TODO-PARTES-TODO. O TODO dá-nos o contexto no qual podemos entender e valorizar o pormenor. Na música, a criação do contexto é tão importante, ou mais, quanto a perfeição do pormenor. O contexto contém a construção, o conceito genérico, a ligação das partes, as relações, a forma, a estrutura, a ideia, a caracterização, o sentido, a intenção (sem contexto não existiriam a ironia nem o humor, por exemplo). Sem contexto, apenas temos música feita de fonemas, de eventos isolados. Sem contexto perdemos, por assim dizer, a gramática e a semântica. 

Na tradição ocidental, grande parte da prática musical é codificada na notação. Por isso, grande parte dos esforços educativos institucionais é gasta na promoção da capacidade de ler notação musical. Ora, perante a notação podemos exibir uma intenção textual ou uma intenção contextual. A primeira é semelhante à leitura silábica própria dos primeiros esforços dos pré-escolares: o esforço da descodificação simbólica é tão grande que não deixa espaço para a apreensão do contexto, isto é, do significado, e muito menos, das subtilezas do sentido.

A leitura musical textual dá preeminência às PARTES (neste caso os eventos isolados), valoriza o rigor literal em detrimento da interpretação unitária ou de conjunto. O conceito é serial: depois do elemento A segue-se, inevitavelmente, o elemento B, etc. Na música assim aprendida, o próprio programa de execução motora está, infelizmente, dependente desta seriação. Esse facto torna a continuidade da execução muito mais frágil, para não falar do resultado musical!

A leitura textual (e a realização musical que esta projecta) pode ser comparada a uma parada militar, em que todos os elementos foram uniformizados na sua aparência e na sua forma de caminhar, para criar uma metáfora da homogeneidade do grupo. Mas se a metáfora da parada funciona como paradigma e modelo da organização militar, o mesmo não se pode dizer da música, onde as PARTES adoptam uma integração e interdependência muito mais complexa.

[A metáfora do desfilar militar é muito eficaz, porque se verifica em muitos planos de significação. A uniformidade dos soldados reforça o sentido compacto do grupo, sublinha a sua capacidade de acção concertada, a sua “solidariedade” interna, a ausência de individualidade que pudesse comprometer a coesão do colectivo, durante uma acção de guerra. Essa ausência torna mais viável (e justificável) o eventual sacrifício individual em prol da missão colectiva].

É curioso que a necessidade de “igualdade” e “uniformidade” rítmica tenha sido tão enfatizada nas aulas de Formação Musical, até ao ponto de perpetuar uma forma de leitura musical rígida (disembodied) e sem nexo musical; essa tendência deu força à ideia de que todas as partes do compasso são iguais – embora qualquer Músico saiba que isso, simplesmente, não é certo.

O percurso entre o textual e o contextual equivale à abertura do caminho da imaginação; promover as relações de alta hierarquia entre as partes; estimular um diálogo integrado de timbres, formas, densidades, ataques, dinâmicas e agógica. Quando o músico é guiado neste domínio, desenvolve a capacidade de aceder ao pensamento de predominância direita, situando as PARTES no TODO que as integra. A seriação estrita de eventos individuais numa sequência executada não compromete, por exemplo, a possibilidade (e necessidade) de que notas afastadas entre si possam “dialogar”, criando conexões perceptíveis entre elas: ao ser executadas com uma dinâmica semelhante, transformam-se num “grupo” autónomo dentro dos fenómenos diversos que as rodeiam. A compreensão e execução da polifonia requerem um jogo dinâmico, da parte do músico, entre TODO-PARTES-TODO.

As variações dinâmicas numa peça remetem para uma noção de espaço e de perspectiva. Nas artes plásticas, falamos de background e foreground. O pintor conhece o artifício para criar a ilusão de distância e de profundidade. Na notação musical, as instruções dinâmicas devem suscitar uma reflexão análoga sobre o espaço. A música que se destaca é a do foreground. A música que nos chega do background é enfraquecida pelo efeito da distância. 

O espaço é um dos contextos da música.

Torna-se possível perceber a noção de estrutura na música para quem apreende o TODO e as PARTES. A música é apelativa para os seres humanos porque activa a memória e a imaginação. Isto é verificável por quem faz música e por quem a ouve. A estrutura da música nasce da alternância de momentos de repetição (aqueles que activam a memória) e de variação ou contraste (aqueles que convidam a participação da imaginação). Percebemos a estrutura na música porque relacionamos as partes com o todo (reconhecemos o rectângulo comparando-o “repetidamente” com o quadrado). A música com excessiva repetição tende a saturar e cansar, porque carece de surpresa e contraste. A música que não usa a repetição deixa-nos com sensação de desconforto, porque nos é negada a participação da memória. O poder narrativo da música é dependente do equilíbrio entre o TODO e as PARTES.

Por último, lembremos que TODO-PARTES-TODO é um conceito dinâmico. Dependendo da nossa atitude – sintética ou analítica? –, assim como do objecto escolhido para observação, tudo pode ser TODO ou PARTES. Uma sonata completa é o TODO, e os andamentos as suas PARTES. Mas um andamento também pode ser um TODO e as suas secções as PARTES. Assim, num compasso, um motivo de 5 notas pode ser o TODO que precisamos de conhecer e de sentir para “colocar” nele cada nota individual com a precisão do ourives.

O indivíduo que aprende inteligentemente, com sentido de consequência, utiliza um zoom mental, que o leva a considerar, alternadamente, uma perspectiva atómica e outra macroscópica. Escolher a perspectiva certa, durante o estudo, é aperfeiçoar a Arte de Aprender.



Just a few words I would whisper in your ear, words of a special kind. These are words that come to meaning only when whispered. They would die if I tried to pronounce them aloud.

But even if you frown at the idea, I would whisper all the same, for the tickling draft of my voice near your ear will mould you heart to receive these words of mine, short-lived like infant souls.
My eyes repeat whatever they see. The beauties, the names, the sounds of the seagulls, the dew hitting loudly the petal rim, the soul walking in solitude. 

You would come near, 
only to go again, 
ever sweetly, far away. 

Walking my path, 
then drifting away. 
Seeing you 
and not seeing you again.

And I look at your waters vanishing, down the bridge, also nourished with potential, always becoming something else. And I keep on looking, listening, like an infinite man.

Your eyes say so much more, as they shine serenely in silence, never asking anything. But they take from the light their colour, their golden, reverberant charm, a lucid mind of their own. Your eyes do not ignore the know-how of gently kissing, nor the soft rumours, the spells, the sweet aromas. They have seen the big skies, walked the wide shores, felt the silent music, the dying bonfires, the shells. And the ocean, the ocean... So much they have looked into the deep blue, that now they absorbed the tides and can recite by heart the dances of the morning moon.
Yes, I will whisper just a few words to you, maybe the last for a while. Like a pianist onstage, first I will wait until everyone keeps a reverent silence. Then, I shall become the whisperer. 

After that, the loud world may return louder than ever, if it so desires. I don't mind. I will rest by your side, quietly listening to your azure marine, the water on the stone, the ocean emptying drop by drop, void of words.


4. AND

A book of days
and a verse made of nocturnal syllables

The sweet fragance of flowers at night
and the tiny, even sweeter trace of a recalled moment

The taste of salt from yesterday's twilight
and the kamikaze dive of seagulls

The somberness of some thoughts
and the tides that wash them down

The newly-found harmonies
and the screaming dissonances

A shiny shell found in the sands
and the echo of a silvery voice

The stony vessel that takes me into the night
and its austral, yet believable moon.

3. I, ME, MINE

I returned to my stony ship
(There it is, indifferent to waves and tides)
I watched the gulls, like an air force, flying suicide diagonals
(I never had such a feeling of belonging to a place)
I filled my lungs and my eyes

And in a single breath, for a single second,

I owned it all



I feel the words, today, pulsating like a scared bird. Somewhere up there, a bunch of words dreaming with a new form, a brief gesture, as fast as light, vanishing in the same instant they start their flight. Seagulls is a sisterhood I know well; they were very proud today. Each one on the top of a lamplight, by the river, like soldiers, like a rhythm of bells. I always love them, almost-fish, radiant birds of glory! And I admire them when they stubbornly fly against the wind, when letting go would seem so easy. Why? They appear frozen in time, but their stillness is the fruit of the infamous wind and their own selfless effort to follow an impossible path. 

Nothing stops, ever, or then it dies.

Music breaths like an organism, with open lungs. It inhabits the air, the same we breath. Music belongs to the air, even before being imagined, created, composed. Then someone listens to the sounds, like I listen to my words, and captures them with a net and a cage...  Later, someone will come and release Music back to the air, where It belongs. And then It will fly like a radiant, glorious, wild bird. Such is the ecology of music, I think. 

But we listeners are trapped on the ground. Music impels us to fly, to follow the impossible path. Seagulls remember how to swim, because they were fish once. But us... can we really fly? Is trying enough? 

There is no wonder that the energy of each phrase feels like an 8 shape, the bow, the air column, the arm, the breath, it is all the same. An eternal movement of taking off and landing, being born and almost dying and start the cycle over and over, hindered only by the surprises found in the way, by delightful counterpoints, by the occasional flower that makes us stop and stare and smell, the honey, the bush, the rage. 

If I am ever born again (a possibility I doubt with fierce passion), I will ask the boss to come back as a seagull.



I could be talking of the usual fog at night, the bright, distorted reflections on my window, but I will not. I have no time to lose. I am learning to breath.

This brings about the cadence. Breathing, the eternal circular motion, the blood beating on my temples. Everything fits in one of those circles. Convulsion and serenity, storms and the quiet waters again. I realize now that words will not do the job, poor things. Not even the utmost discipline will force them to do this job.

But music might, this is why I return to the cadence. I climb to my terrace as I have done before. As soon as I sense the storm is coming, I climb the stairs and wait for the music. Today, a piece of paper or cardboard hit the door with fury, several times. So I climb there and wait for the music that will bring everything together. Eventually. Will it, really? There is no time for questioning, no room for doubt. Of course it will.

The cadence does not exist, really. I have been fooling myself with it. Teachers spoke about it, and good students just take its existence for granted. They even give you formulas and types, teach you to recognize their various forms. But they-do-not-exist, I know now. Everything flows, and the cadence as well.

The cadence is a trap, a black hole, a total gravity point that swallows everything. If you allow it. The trick is never stopping, to keep all the parts in motion at all times. If heavens were to stop, the world would end. Of course you stop now and then, but you do that while keeping everything in motion, like a juggler. Jugglers never stop, even when they barely move. You just stop definately when you are going to die. That is the cadence, really. In the meantime, we live in a vortex, or a poem that existed before the wind started to blow. One gets used to it.

So I follow the wordless advice of a wise man I met, and let everything speak, while observing all around. I keep breathing, I tilt my head to one side. If I do not see, I change the angle. Sometimes, tears cleanse the waters and then you see.

The Music. As I expected, cadences amount to nothing. The Music lands softly like a small bird, legs touching several times the ground, wondrous act of magic, drifting from the air to the earth in the most natural way. A flutter of wings softens the landing, makes it seamless. The last touch on the ground serves as the impulse for a new take-off, you see? Inverted anacrusa, sun of the southern hemisphere. Cadences do not exist really. They are just the carcass of a rather useless theoretical invention. Instead wasting the time analizing them, we should be learning to fly, to breath, to be. Wings, wind, light. Movement. Awareness.

The horizon could only be horizontal. Light is light, weightless. Wings are used to fly, sure, but also to protect, to revive, to caress. Words are also winged beings, or can be. I know the power of words, seemingly, and it feels like knowing the alchemist's secret. I may know the secret, right. But deep inside, I know words do not compare with a glance, with a color, with a gesture. The regard wins my heart, while words can only defeat. Words can be like the cadence, even less than nothing, fragile petals crunching under the feet of the dancers.

Yet,  I do not want to sound ungrateful. How would you hear me without them, dear reader? What Would We Write Without Words?

From the corner of my window, a dark memory filters in. I do not reject it. I impose its presence on myself, like a voluntary nightmare to fight the mud, the sleep, the oblivion. I want it fixed on my skin, like a tattoo.

Indelebly stamped, like a statue.

Petrified, like my ship.

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