Music for Connection and Contemplation

by Kerry Dexter /
Kerry Dexter's picture
May 19, 2020 / 0 comments

Music can invite and encourage contemplation and connection, solitude and community.  Participating in arts of all sorts allows, invites, and encourages perspective and reflection.

At times, this also makes space for a place of rest.

With those ideas in mind, take a listen to the differing ways these musicians invite you into all of this.

Music for Connection and Contemplation

Tish Hinojosa is from Texas, and spent some years living in in New Mexico, as well. Her song Amanacer paints sunrise across western skies while wishing well to a loved one who is at a distance. Amanacer means daybreak in Spanish. The song was first recorded on Hinojosa's album Taos to Tennessee. You may also find it on her albums Homeland and My Homeland. Hinojosa's most recent album at this writing is called West.

It had been eight years since Canadian fiddle player and composer Natalie MacMaster had recorded a solo album. Not that the award-winning Cape Breton musician had been idle; she'd made a recording with her husband and fellow fiddle player Donnell Leahy (their first as a duo), they'd established and run a music festival, and she'd been homeschooling the pair's seven children. All those things go into the reasons she recorded the album Sketches, and to her playing on it, as well. The whole album, MacMaster says, is "a joyous appreciation, inspired by years of parenting, marriage, friendships, music, and life." Take a listen to a set called Killiecrankie, which moves from quiet invitation to fast paced celebration.

As that set suggests, it does not have to be quiet music to invite connection and reflection. Carrying on with that idea, here is Mairi's Wedding, a song from Scotland with early twentieth century lyric set to a much old folk melody. The Rankin Family -- they too are from Cape Breton -- do it here, paired with Michael Rankin's Reel, on their self-titled debut album from 1989. They made a number of albums together before going separate ways. One of my favorites is called North Country. You might also like to check out Heather Rankin's recent winter-themed album Imagine.

Aoife Scott's song Homebird invites quieter reflection. Scott and her partner Andy Meaney had been on the road a lot with their music, and hadn't really had a place to call home. They decided the time had come to look for one. They found a place they loved in the countryside in Kildare. In Ireland, the word homebird means someone who is home loving. Reflecting on their new found home and the birds who lived nearby, too, Scott wrote the song, and called the album on which she recorded it Homebird, as well.

Day Dawn is a quiet piece, too. It's often played on the fiddle, in Shetland, as Christmas Day breaks. Matt and Shannon Heaton have set it over to guitar and flute. It is on their winter-themed album called Fine Winter's Night. It works well at all seasons, however. The Heatons are based in Boston. Matt has a recent children's album out, called All of Us. At this writing, their latest duo album of Irish music is called Tell You in Earnest.

A song of hope, a song of looking toward the future, a quiet blessing: that's what the song Mo Nion O is. It was written in Irish by Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, the Donegal musician you may know from Altan, for her daughter Nia. With Mairéad's permission, Cathie Ryan translated it into English, keeping some of the Irish in the chorus. In both languages, its words are well worth the listening. You will find it recorded on Cathie Ryan's album Through Wind and Rain.

May the creative work of  these musicians offer you uplift, inspiration, and rest as you make you way through these times.


Thank you for staying with us through this journey. Below, you'll find a link that will take you to an article which has a bit more backstory on the series. It also has links to a number of the stories, including ones called Listening for Community, Music for Winter's Changes, and The Geography of Hope.

Music for Shifting Times

Music for Shifting Times




Kerry Dexter is Music Editor at Wandering Educators. You may reach Kerry at music at wanderingeducators dot com.

You may find more of Kerry's work in National Geographic Traveler, Strings, Perceptive Travel, Journey to Scotland, Irish Fireside, and other places, as well as at her own site, Music Road.