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REVIEWS

[The Night Shifters is] a fascinating ride. The voice feels a lot like Neil Gaiman. This is a huge compliment in my mind, and one not to be taken lightly.” - Melinda VanLone Reviews

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"Nero's Lyre" Featured In "No Lander"



It had to happen! Michael Levy's music has been used in a ballet. Click on the links below to feast your eyes and ears!

My Lyre Music Featured in a Ballet Production!

I was delighted to stumble upon a video of a new ballet production in progress, by Riccardo Buscarini, entitled "No Lander", which features my composition "Nero's Lyre"!

Here are some details about the production from the video description:

"In an endless space, five dancers play sailors lost at sea... nothing to hang on to, no roots, no light, no land... just a never-ending horizon of waves. A melancholic and subtle meditation on the themes of Homer’s Odyssey, No Lander reflects upon longing and belonging. No Lander was initially developed as part of Middlesex University/ResCen research project ‘ArtsCross London 2013: Leaving Home, Being Elsewhere’ in August 2013 where a 10 minute version of the work was created"


The video of this fascinating ballet production can be viewed and freely downloaded here.

The splendid choreography certainly adds an entirely new dimension to my composition!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

High Hopes for the End of the World



How would you prefer the world to end? That was a question that would have struck me as odd a few years ago, before I realized there was a sub-genre in science fiction called Post Apocalypse.

I knew there was a sub-genre in horror – zombie novels – and they also qualify as Post Apocalypse. I figured zombie stories entertained people because they liked the idea of being able to kill droves of enemies without feeling guilty about it. After all, those enemies are already dead. Plus they want to eat you. If that AMC show, The Walking Dead, is any indication, those zombies can be quite a nuisance in large groups, so I agree it's wise to shoot as many of them in the head as you can, just to be safe.


But zombies alone can't hold our attention for very long. In large doses, you just get sick of them – you want the heroes to blow them up already, and get on with the real story. And what is the real story? It's about how things come unraveled.

The why of it isn't as important. We can all think of reasons for everything to go to Hell in a hand basket. We've been watching that happen throughout recorded history. There's a plague, a world war, a Kristallnacht. Afterward, the experts have plenty to say about what went wrong and why it all happened. But the people who survived are much more interesting, because they tell us the details of how it happened: the food supply was interrupted, the currency collapsed, water stopped coming out of taps, no fuel was available for cars, trains, and buses – a thousand details about the things we take for granted until they're not working anymore.


It's not that we're indifferent. The world comes to an end in all sorts of smaller ways, for all of us, all the time. It's tempting to point a finger at society in general and say What a bunch of clueless, spoiled fools we are! We deserve to be overrun by zombies. But we don't deserve it. We're just fascinated by it. Because finding out how things come apart teaches us how things work in the first place.

That's why Alan Weisman's book, The World Without Us, is so engrossing. He doesn't attempt to tell us why the theoretical End of the World occurs in his book, he just illustrates what happens when our infrastructure isn't being maintained on a daily basis. National Geographic's World Without Humans follows the same premise. Each episode shows us how various cities would fall apart: buildings, roads, bridges, dams, and vehicles. It proves that we don't take things for granted, because we're maintaining all this stuff every day. It shows us a big picture that we can't see on our own.

John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” (At least according to facebook, but it sounds like something he could have said.) I think you could say the same thing about the Apocalypse. The anxiety that things will fall apart nibbles at us every day (especially those of us who are homeowners). But anxiety isn't the only thing we feel when we contemplate the End Of All We Know. There's some anticipation in there too. When old worlds die, new ones are born. Creation and destruction are bound together. In books and movies, that principle is usually exemplified by a virus.


The virus is what kills people. But often that wasn't its original intention – it may have been engineered to do the opposite, to preserve life by prolonging it. That's why those dead people got up and started walking again; something is keeping them from rotting completely away. It turns out that viruses are good delivery systems for genetic information, so theoretically you could use one to tweak human DNA. Or to cure people, or make them stronger, allow them to live longer. If you're a writer, you can't help imagining how all of that could go wrong – hence the zombies and cannibalistic mutants that pervade popular culture these days. Maybe they could be seen as symbols of our hubris.

But they may be symbols of evolution, as well. Climate drives change, but so does mutation. When the dinosaur-killing asteroid struck Earth about 60 million years ago, it killed a lot of dinosaurs. Only – it didn't. The change in climate killed a lot of species, and the ones that survived evolved. Dinosaurs became birds, and early mammals diversified. Natural selection and mutation worked paw in claw to create new creatures.

In our own way, we also become new creatures when our world comes to an end. And as much as we hate and fear it, that may be part of the appeal.




The illustrations on this post are by Ernest Hogan, whose drawings are always at least a little apocalyptic.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Would You Like Fries With That Hike?



Working at the Heard Museum Book Store allows me to find more nifty books than I would normally see were I simply to wander into a National Park book store (something I do more often than you might think), so I was already familiar with a couple of other Roger Naylor titles: Death Valley: Hottest Place On Earth and Arizona: Kicks On Route 66. These inexpensive and lavishly photographed books are full of lore and suggestions of interesting places to visit, so when Boots & Burgers: An Arizona Handbook For Hungry Hikers came over the transom, I bought it so fast my receipt is singed around the edges.

Boots & Burgers combined my two favorite things in the world, hiking and eating at diners after hiking – what a natural! So I went through the book with a fine-tooth comb and started marking hikes I want to do, along with their accompanying diner suggestions. I knew I would review this book, so I was prepared to say all sorts of nice things about the fact that most of the hikes listed in the book are new to me, so I have lots of lovely exploration to do. Likewise, I had never eaten at most of these diners, and I love burgers. A match made in heaven. The directions to the trail heads are clear, the exertion level is accurate, and the diner reviews make my mouth water. Good stuff! Get down here and by this book right now!

But this is a book about adventure and exploration. Is one review enough? I think Boots & Burgers requires special treatment. I haven't done my job as a reviewer unless I go on at least some of these hikes, eat at some of these diners, and then tell you how they were. I am prepared to make this sacrifice. Because I'm just that kinda guy.

So – the first hike that tempted me was the Red Mountain trail, just north of Flagstaff on HWY 180, the same road that will take you to the Grand Canyon if you don't want to take HWY 89. There's nothing wrong with HWY 89 of course – after all, it takes you past Wupatki and Sunset Crater. But HWY 180 may be the road less traveled, unless you're really into skiing at Snow Bowl, or you can't resist the observatory or the museums – or . . .

Okay, maybe it's NOT the road less traveled. But on the Thursday we went looking for Red Mountain, there weren't a lot of people sharing the highway with us. The book warned us to watch for the mile marker after the Red Mountain sign, and this proved to be completely accurate. We turned left onto a forest road, drove past the sign warning us not to park in undesignated parking areas – you need to go to the end, where it loops, and THEN you can improvise a parking spot. Just try not to block the road. Not that anyone showed up while we were there – probably because everyone else knew that if you want to see the magnificent formations inside that partially-collapsed cinder cone, you need to show up in the morning, when light will ignite the full glory of those fantastical shapes.

The trail leads through a forest of junipers, ponderosas, and scented scrub – you see glimpses of the rock formations looming over it all, further down the trail. This is when you're saying to yourself, Dang! I wish we had gotten here before noon! Because those volcanic-tuff hoodoos are in shadow in the afternoon. They are mere shadows of themselves.

What's cool is that eventually you reach the cone, and you have to climb a short ladder to get up among the hoodoos. Somehow it all reminds me of scenes from The Lord of the Rings, when the company of friends travel into lands long abandoned to find half-ruined statues of ancient heroes. The formations are fantastical even in the half-light, and you will be busy snapping pictures of them. By the way – please don't be a jerk and climb on them.

On the way back down, I tested Roger's claim that Ponderosas smell like vanilla – and it's true. Put your nose right up next to them and breathe deep. The scent is amazing. And it only took me 56 years to find that out.

We had already located Mama Burgers on the way down – it's right on the elbow part of the bend that becomes HWY 180. It's a little place, and many of the employees are teenagers. I was tempted to try one of the shakes – I hear they're amazing, so I'll do that come summer – but I stuck to a burger and fries. My husband did the same, but he picked the Mamaburger, while I had the one with bacon and avocado.

They were EXCELLENT.

So five stars for the Red Mountain hike and the Mama Burger joint. Now – time to pick the next hike . . .




Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Lyre 2.0 Project



Michael Levy has been busy lately, as you will see when you follow the links below. Read about his hopes to bring the beautiful music of the ancient world to modern audiences, and his collaboration with a family of instrument makers in Greece!

The Lyre 2.0 Project 

I am delighted to announce an exciting new collaboration entitled "The Lyre 2.0 Project", between myself and the specialist ancient Greek lyre makers

The essential concept of the "Lyre 2.0 Project", is our shared vision of reintroducing the beautiful lyre of antiquity back into our much less beautiful, bland, modern world.

As my own contribution to this unique collaboration, I have written a booklet outlining the history of the lyre, lyre playing techniques, the unique characteristics of the ancient Greek modes, notated my arrangements of music for solo lyre (featuring some original ancient Greek melodies and a selection of my own compositions in a selection of some of the original ancient Greek modes) and I will be recording a CD to accompany the booklet of notated music, capturing the evocative and haunting ancient timbre of "The Lyre of Apollo III" model which Luthieros custom made for me. The CD and booklet will be included with each beautiful lyre sold. I will also soon be compiling a series of special tuition videos for the lyres made by Luthieros.

Luthieros are comprised of members of the Koumartzis family of specialist musical instrument makers, who are based in Thessaloniki, Greece. Their inspirational project recently featured in an article in "Lifo Magazine" - one of the most widely read cultural magazines in Greece!

Their vision is one I share and which continues to inspire me - maybe, some day soon, the beautiful lyre of antiquity will once again resonate the bland modern world with its haunting, ancient beauty... 

For full details, please see my brand new webpage dedicated to this project, which also features my new and ever growing Youtube 'Lyre 2.0 Project' playlist, which features all my 'live' performances (from my strangely kitchen-shaped 'amphitheatre'!) on this beautiful and evocative lyre:

http://ancientlyre.com/the_lyre_20_project/

Thursday, November 13, 2014

It's Not the Lake, It's the Great Geology



I have to confess that I'm not a water sports fan, and I'm pretty sure that Lake Pleasant is a great place to get a sunburn. That said, I've noticed that a lot of locals really enjoy the lake and its recreational opportunities, so I'm not trying to knock it -- I simply don't know enough about that aspect of it to write a review about it. Instead, I'd like to talk about the geology and a wonderful trail we hiked.
The Hieroglyphic Mountains (and its neighbors) are a testament to the varied volcanic activity that shaped most of Arizona over the last 1.7 billion years, though most of the landscape you see on the Pipeline Trail near Lake Pleasant has its origins in the Tertiary and Quaternary periods. We saw everything from vesicular basalt to rhyolitic tuff, and the colors were fabulous. Check out the USGS pdf map of the area -- it will give you a more detailed breakdown of the rock types you'll find in the area.

The trail is not a loop, and it's 2.2 miles each way, but it's moderate in difficulty, without a lot of climbing. The views are gorgeous, especially if you're fond of desert flora and fauna, and there are even wild donkeys in the area (we saw several of them, and heard their "EE-Aw"s echoing up and down the canyon). This is a hike for the cool season, late Oct to late March, and you need to take water -- and your camera!

After hiking both ways on the trail, we drove to Wickenburg and had supper at Anita's Cocina, ignoring the fast food joints along HWY 60. It was a wonderful day.



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Gorgeous Wave



The lyre rocked the ancient world, and there's no reason it can't rock the future as well. Click on the links below to get Michael Levy's new album. Be part of the gorgeous wave!

Improvisations for Contemporary Lyre at 432 Hz

I am pleased to announce the release of my brand new, ultra-experimental album, "Improvisations for Contemporary Lyre at 432 Hz"!

The sequel to my other experimental EP, "21st Century Lyre Music", in this brand new release, I attempt to experiment further in providing the lyre of antiquity with a new voice for the present century and way beyond, with the use of contemporary studio effects, in addition to exploring the many benefits claimed about using 432 Hz as a reference pitch, as explored in detail, in my website blog, "Is 432 Hz New Age Schmertz?".

Here are all the main purchase links to the album:


I hope you all enjoy the music - do please 'spread the word'! Many thanks, everyone.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Philistines Hate Hard Copies



I know a lot of people who regret giving up their vinyl LPs – likewise, getting rid of the CDs may be a move you would regret. Michael Levy still has some for sale, even though Reverbnation will be getting rid of the option. So hurry and get yours while supplies last! Follow the link below . . .

Last ever chance of ordering physical CDs of my albums!

Sadly, I have just recieved a somewhat devastating email from Reverbnation, who since 2011, have run my Reverbnation Store, offering physical CDs manufactured on demand of all of my 20 plus albums - they have decided to close all their Reverbnation Stores in September!!

Therefore, the 3 years of work I have put into the incredibly laborious process of designing all the CD artwork and liner notes for each and every one of my albums will soon be lost...forever!

To have the chance of being the very last individuals to own these physical CDs manufactured on demand before the chance is gone forever, my Reverbnation Store (whilst it still exists!), can be visited here.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Red Bird All-Indian Traveling Band



I have only one complaint about The Red Bird All-Indian Traveling Band, by Frances Washburn: I want to read more about this character, and right now there's only one book. Sissy Roberts is someone I could follow through many more volumes.

Sissy doesn't solve mysteries deliberately – her detective skills are a side effect of a gift she has that can also be a curse. People want to tell Sissy things. She never asks them to, often doesn't want them to, but for some reason, they feel they need to tell her their problems and secrets. They aren't even hoping that she'll be able to figure out a solution for them. They just want to tell. So when a member of the community is murdered, Sissy's gift puts her in danger. Did the killer already tell her something that will allow her to piece together the puzzle?

To make matters worse, the FBI gets involved, and they are not popular on the rez, ever since the Wounded Knee incident. The agent in charge of the investigation finds out about Sissy's talent, and he thinks she can help. But Sissy has her own problems, not the least of which is what she's going to do with the rest of her life. She loves singing in the Red Bird All-Indian Traveling Band, but is she missing her true calling? And what the heck is it?

How Sissy manages to juggle her problems, her romantic life, and a job that's taking her nowhere, while solving the mystery of a sad killing, is what makes this book a delight. It's short and punchy, and I doubt you'll see the solution until Sissy spells it out. This one is for readers who enjoy mysteries with plots driven by interesting characters.  We carry it at the Heard Museum Book Store, so I hope you'll visit us in Phoenix, maybe buy a cup of coffee, and settle down with this wonderful book in our courtyard. 

Emily Devenport is currently writing a science fiction novel set in Arizona, and may even finish it some day soon . . . 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Indian Road 18



Arizona is a big place: 113,998 square miles (295,254 square km), so maybe it's no big surprise that there are many places in AZ I've never visited. The difficulty of the situation is compounded by the fact that this big place is very mountainous, and there's a giant, canyon stretching across the top NW corner of it. The interstate highways transect the top third (I-40) and the bottom half (I-10), and those two highways are connected in the middle by I-17. But that still leaves a big part of the state that must be explored by old highways and unpaved roads. And gas is currently running between $3.50 and $4.10 a gallon, here. Before you wince at how cheap that is compared to what you're currently paying, remember: 113,998 square miles.

This became a particular problem for me when I was trying to set a scene in my new novel in a part of Arizona I'd never visited. I thought I could simply google the place and look up its particulars. I found out that some places are more obscure than others. In this case, the place was the territory through which Indian Road 18 passes, near the southern the edge of the Grand Canyon. I couldn't find photos or maps that gave me enough information to write a convincing scene. So Ernie and I took a 24-hour road trip. We got the information we needed on that trip, but we got more. We found a wonderful spot we never would have visited if it hadn't been for my mission. That place is the Route 66 Roadrunner Cafe, in Seligman.


Seligman is an old Route 66 town, one of the places that almost died when I-40 was built to pass it by. (One of the biggest mistakes America ever made was to deal that fate to our small towns.) Seligman enjoys some attention these days from foreign travelers who are enchanted with the old Route 66 mystique. It's a cute little place, population 456 (give or take), with buildings and signs that were constructed in the mid-20th Century. Route 66 is the main drag, so you see lots of signs inviting you to stop, eat, drink ice cold pop (or beer), and buy lots of souvenirs. Ernie and I arrived there at around 9:00 a.m., so what we had on our minds was coffee. Not just any coffee, either – we wanted the fancy stuff. The Roadrunner was the first place with “coffee drinks” in its signs, so we pulled over and went in to investigate.


We ended up with a couple of “Fast And Furious” iced coffees, which come fully loaded with 3 shots of espresso. We snagged a couple of muffins too, and scarfed those with a speed and enthusiasm that might have horrified any onlookers, had they been too close. The drinks and the muffins get 5 stars from us, so check the place out if you're passing through. They've got a full menu for lunch and breakfast, as well as plenty of Route 66 souvenirs too, including t-shirts and reproductions of vintage signs. They've even got a bar. The owner let us take some photos, and he's the one who snapped the shot of us at the top of this page, in case you've ever wondered what I and my intrepid partner look like when we're happy.


From Seligman, Indian Road 18 is about another half hour's drive on Route 66. The roadcuts on the way reveal some of the most interesting and colorful deposits of volcanic ash and lava I've seen in Arizona. Once you've turned onto 18, which winds through part of the Hualapai Indian Reservation, you climb onto the Coconino Plateau, which is anything but flat on top. It is complicated by its own mountains, hills, arroyos, and valleys. The road is paved, but not fancy or new, and the speed limit varies as you go along. You have to watch for cows, too. It's 60 miles long, and on the map it just seems to end for no particular reason, not far from the south rim of the Grand Canyon. But there's a very good reason for it to end. It's actually right at the edge of the canyon, on a little piece of land that belongs to the Havasupai Indians. They use it to transport supplies in and out of the canyon (via a small helicopter) and also lead horse- and mule-tours into the canyon itself.


A small tributary canyon runs along the west side of the final mile of Indian Road 18. There's a spot at its head where you can tell a waterfall forms when it rains. The part of the Grand Canyon this little tributary leads into isn't the grandest part – the walls aren't as high or the canyon nearly as wide as you'll find it in the national park (the eastern end), but it's beautiful, displaying uniquely eroded areas of the Kaibab limestone, the cross-bedded Toroweap and Coconino sandstones, the Hermit shale, and maybe even a bit of the Supai layer, at the bottom. It was a part of the Grand Canyon I'd never seen, and the journey up that road helped me immensely as I tried to envisage the scene I wanted to write.


That expedition was the sole reason for our trip, so we had to head back to Phoenix once I'd snapped some photos. On the way, however, we had to make one last stop – at the Roadrunner Cafe for two more “Fast and Furious” coffee drinks. The car needed gas, and so did we . . .

HWY 89 took us back through the Bradshaw Mountains (with a quick stop in Prescott for supper), to Route 93, past Wickenburg and back to Phoenix. It was a beautiful trip, and possibly the only one we'll be able to afford this year. But we made it count. If you're passing that way, I hope you do too.



Psst! Hey Buddy! Wanna Learn Some Lyre . . . ?



This is it, folks, your chance to not just listen to ancient lyre, but to learn how to play it! Follow Michael Levy's links and get the real deal . . .

Sheet Music For 10 String Lyre!

HERE IT IS! After copious laborious scrawling, I am pleased to announce that I have finally gotten around to compiling a free 10 page PDF instructional booklet of my first ever attempt at preparing some actual written musical notation for some (hopefully suitably simplified!) arrangements for my 10 string Marini lyre, of a selection of my original compositions as featured in my lyre albums, including a couple of my arrangements of 2 examples of the actual surviving music of ancient Greece...LET THE LYRE LEARNING REVOLUTION BEGIN! My brand new blog which features the free download link to this unique booklet can be found here

Happy plucking, everyone!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Those Wacky Hz Hooligans



Michael Levy tackles New Age Cognitive Dissonance in his newest blog about vibrations and what they can and cannot accomplish. Check out the link and tell him what you think!

Is 432 Hz New Age Schmertz?

After drowning in a veritable Tsunami of gigabytes of 'information' on the Internet that 432 Hz is the frequency of the cosmos, that it is the resonant frequency of human DNA and even that there is an global conspiracy to infiltrate the 'evil' sound of the note A at 440 Hz into our dialing tones, I decided to dust some of the cobwebs off my hard earned philosophy degree from 1989 and get down to some serious epistemological excavations through this veritable muddled mountain of New Age mayhem, to valiantly strive to extract some actual facts from the cognitive carnage which surrounds the mystery of the reference pitch of A at 432 Hz!

The following brand new blog is the first fruit of my philosophical explorations - if anyone out there wishes to add any constructively critical comments to my blog, I would very much appreciate your own views and knowledge on this chaotically contentious issue - many thanks!

My brand new blog can be found here:


I will be looking forward to hearing some of your own much valued opinions!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

What Is Music . . . ?



In his latest blog post, Michael Levy asks a question I have pondered myself. Follow the link and check it out!

What is Music? A Philosophical Analysis!
A quick bulletin to let you all know of a brand new blog I have just posted, entitled "What Is Music?" - a philosophical analysis of this unique and compelling concept, in my efforts to answer a 30 year old riddle I set myself, when at the age of 16, I happened to ponder the question (whilst walking though the countryside listening to a cassette tape of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony on my old Sony Walkman)...

What is it that is different about my experience of listening to this beautiful piece of music about being in the countryside and my actual experience of physically being in the countryside?

The new blog (and at last, my answer to this 30 year old riddle!) can be found here: 
http://ancientlyre.com/blogs/what_is_music/
 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Taking the Lyre Into the Future . . .




Here it is, Michael Levy's new album! Follow the links!

"21st Century Lyre Music" - Out Now, on iTunes!

I am pleased to announce the release on iTunes today, of my ultra-experimental EP, "21st Century Lyre Music"! The aim of this EP, is to provide the wonderful lost lyre of antiquity with a brand new voice for the 21st century and hopefully, way beyond...

This highly futuristic album demonstrates that as well as being able to so vividly evoke the spirit of the ancient world, the timeless lyre has the magical quality of being able to transport the listener to our distant future as well.

The album features original compositions for solo lyre, transformed by a myriad of cutting edge, 21st century electronic effects - a magical musical space ship, to transport the listener on an epic voyage of intergalactic travel, to other universes, other worlds and alien landscapes...

The PDF booklet of the detailed album note can be freely downloaded here

The link to the album on iTunes is below:

Buy "21st Century Lyre Music" on iTunes!

The EP will also soon be available from all the other major digital music stores, including Amazon, Spotify and Google Play etc. All the purchase links will be posted in the section of my website devoted to this album.

NB! Each and every new digital music store album review posted & better still, online blogs about either this album or any of my other releases are literally like a libation to Apollo, in my efforts as an aspiring independent artist, to honestly promote my lyre music to the rest of the unsuspecting world...each and every one of them is like gold dust and is incredibly appreciated - many thanks, everyone!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Are You Ready For Ultra Experimental Lyre . . . ?



Tune in to some experimental music from the lyre master, Michael Levy! Follow the links . . .

More news - I am going to release my most ULTRA experimental EP album ever..."21st Century Lyre Music" - the world's first fusion of modern electronic effects and the lyre of antiquity! 

I have already independently released the EP on Bandcamp & the physical CD of the album from my Reverbnation Store:

http://michaellevy.bandcamp.com/album/21st-century-lyre-music

http://www.reverbnation.com/store/view_item_album/artist_1132710?utf8=%E2%9C%93&item_id=2016693

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sign Up, O Lyre Fiends!



As if you needed more incentive to subscribe to Michael Levy's mailing list, here's an example of the goodies that you get when you do. Pop over to his website and get yourself on that list!

Free Bonus Track For All My Subscribers!

As a big humungous THANK YOU to everyone who kindly subscribes to my mailing list, just for you, here is a download link for a 100% FREE bonus track, Inspiratio (Inspiration), not featured in any of my albums or singles - this 320kbps quality MP3 can be freely downloaded from here

Thanks once more for all your support in helping to "spread the word" about my lyre music (...and each and every new album review you find the time to kindly post on either iTunes or Amazon is like a libation to Apollo, in my efforts to honestly promote my lyre music to the rest of the unsuspecting world!).

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Great Unconformty (Even More Fabulous Than It sounds)




This post by Dr. Jack Share about the Great Unconformity and the Grand Canyon is so fascinating, I have to share it (and preserve it on my own log so I can come back and visit it). The photographs are amazing, and worthy of a textbook (for all I know, they ended up in one). Follow the link and wallow in Deep Time!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

S'cuse Me While I Kiss This Lyre



Follow the links below and listen to Michael Levy's alternate history take on modern music. What if the lyre had not been replaced by the fretted lute . . . ?

21st Century Lyre Music?

Sadly, in the Western world, from the end of the Dark Ages, the wonderful lyre of antiquity was gradually replaced by the fretted lute, until the guitar as we know it became the standard accompaniment to virtually all of modern Western popular music...

In my brand new series of somewhat surreal "cutting edge" Youtube videos,"21st Century Lyre Music?", I wanted to explore an "alternative Universe", in which what may have happened if it had been the fretted lute family of instruments which had fallen into oblivion in the West, and instead, the magical Classical lyre of antiquity had continued to have been played into the 21st century? These videos are therefore dedicated to dragging the lyre of antiquity kicking & screaming (in some cases, literally!) into the 21st century musical experience...

The video playlist below features performances of a selection of both my original compositions and a spontaneous improvision, using a palette of 21st century effects, ranging from FLANGER, AUTO WAH, DISTORTION & PHASER REVERB!! 

In this "alternative Universe", I wonder if the late great Jimi Hendrix might have, instead, SET FIRE TO THE LYRE??? Hope you enjoy the music...

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Not-So-Ancient Communication Technology, Cherished



I feel compelled to jump on a bandwagon here concerning an interesting book, Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience. It's been all over facebook and other spots on the web, most recently because of one of its featured letters, which was written by J.R.R. Tolkien, in 1938, to a publisher (Rütten & Loening) in response to a query concerning his book, The Lord of the Rings. The publisher wanted to buy German rights, but felt obliged (since it was 1938) to enquire whether Tolkien was a member of the Aryan race. The letter quoted was supposed to have been the less diplomatic of the two that Tolkien drafted – a fact that I find charming, because it seems quite restrained to me.

Here is a partial quote from Tolkien's letter: I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people.

I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that this was not the response the publisher was hoping for. I'm curious to know what the second draft said. I think I'm going to have to add Letters of Note to my bookshelf. It will stand with similar collections. One of the best ways to study history is to read letters written by the people who lived through it.

But our part of history isn't documented that way. We write emails and post comments on social media, many of which have to be less than (x) characters. We may receive eloquent emails from brilliant people: writers, artists, scientists, etc. But the emails that are preserved are the ones from corrupt politicians and businessmen.


I suppose we can argue that our electronic brand of correspondence is in its infancy, and many things could happen to change it. Perhaps it will even be discarded as the social networking sites become too commercialized and controlled. Instant communication is necessary in a society where business is booming and many things have to happen quickly, but we've reached a point where economies are stagnant, resources are strained, and underemployment is the new norm. Our philosophy of tearing up the landscape and tearing out our hair to produce stuff and ship it out as quickly as possible doesn't resonate with young people. And their children may feel that constantly talking to each other on Twitter is old fashioned.


That doesn't mean they'll sit down and write letters to each other. I think if we wanted them to do that, we'd have to insist that schools begin to teach the art of letter-writing from kindergarten through high school. At this point, we don't fund or staff them well enough even to teach basic English, math, and science, and curriculums are under attack from legislatures who are hostile to education in general.

Ironically, this is just the sort of historical event that could be well-documented through letters.




Since we don't have letters to document our age, I'll have to make do with doodles by Ernest Hogan to illustrate this post. He's out of town, at U.C. Riverside, talking about Latino SciFi with other chicanonauts. While he's gone, I'm stealing his art and eating all the ice cream . . .

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Snappin' and Pluckin'



Michael Levy has a couple of new announcements to make –follow the links and discover the beauty of ancient music!

My CD "King David's Lyre; Echoes of Ancient Israel" has made it to King David's Lyre...in Israel!

A fan of mine from Australia who bought a copy of my CD, "King David's Lyre; Echoes of Ancient Israel" was on a recent vacation in Jerusalem and has just kindly sent me the most utterly awesome photo...of my CD cover on the famous sculpture in Jerusalem, of King David's Lyre - this photo has surely got to be the best tribute to my debut album of 2008 - ever! 

To see the said utterly awesome photo, please click here to see this cryogenically cool news bulletin!

As this may well be about the nearest I may ever get to actually being in "The Promised Land" on my ever-struggling musician's 'income', THIS PHOTO JUST MADE MY DAY!! 

Pluckin' GREAT!!

I have finally got some of my best tracks registered in a new compilation with a genuine Music Library!

The organisation who contacted me was SRL Networks...maybe someday soon a major company like Felt Music might also take a sniff of my niche market releases for solo lyre & then the use of my tracks in every ancient themed movie & historical TV documentary in the known world??? Watch this space!! 

My brand new SRL Networks compilation is also available to hear & share on Spotify:


NB! If there are any more tracks any of you lovely lyre fans out there would like me to add to this existing SLR compilation, do please let me know!! 

This is certainly a step in the right direction in the hope of "living the dream" of someday actually being able to make some sort of living out of my love of lyre pluckin'! 

Indeed, in my daily struggle to 'get my music out there', sometimes I feel the actual anguish of Orpheus...I am but a humble musician and not a salesperson, so when it comes to promoting my musical wares to the rest of the unsuspecting world, (apart from my thankfully ever-growing web presence!), I really haven't a clue who to contact and how!

What I really really need to find, is a specialist music agent, preferably in the UK, but anyone with the necessary know how will do!

Therefore, does anyone out there know anybody who knows anything about how to further my cause? Any help, whatsoever, would be most gratefully appreciated! Many thanks, everyone...

The photo at the top of this post is from Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, offered up because, like Michael, I will likely only visit Israel through books and the internet, and from the photos I've seen of it, parts of Israel look like parts of Utah.