Haiku Variations by Michael Udow

Michael Udow contributed a piece to Sonic Divide and I just got it in my inbox yesterday.  Michael was my primary percussion teacher when I was an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, but he’s also been much, much more than that to me.  There’s no doubt in my mind that the reason I have the courage to try something as crazy as the Sonic Divide is in part because of Mike’s inspiration.  He is a true artist through and through, an amazing composer, percussionist, instrument builder, teacher, producer, and many more things.  He’s a Renaissance man with a firm grounding in the past but always with an eye (and ear) to the future.  I feel very lucky that he wrote a piece for me, and I feel very lucky that I got to study with him.

His piece is unique in that it requires me to compose a new haiku at the end of each day on the Sonic Divide.  He offers me one to start:

the old stones listen / wind soothes my tired body / peace is from within

What a lovely haiku!  A lovely way to connect the physical activity with the sonic world.

Mike provides instructions for me to improvise on that haiku while I recite it, and then to do the same for each of the haikus that I compose while I’m on my journey, each of which is a meditation on the day’s experiences.  I estimate that the Sonic Divide will take me about 25 days to finish, so I will end up with quite a bit of material.  It’s an ingenious concept.

What’s really interesting to me is that both of the pieces created by my mentors (Michael Udow and Robert Morris) force me to slow down and meditate on my experience.  Given that I tend to move quickly and energetically through life, I am grateful for these pieces.  They know me perhaps better than I do, the sign of a great teacher.   Their blessings continue to shower down upon me.

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