mushrooms and music

Mushroom Music

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Laetiporus sulphureus – Chicken of the Woods

Veering off topic from Lichens to Mushrooms today; I just can’t help myself because the story is so wonderful. A human has written music from mushrooms. Not one song, but thousands, from every mushroom he encountered over decades of walking in the forest.

Recently a friend gave me information about the discovery that lichens disable prions, particularly the ones that make CWD. In the last post, I mused about what else they might be up to that we have no ideas about yet. As elders and others from cultures with intact connections to the living world know and occasionally inform us, everything is alive and interacts in myriad ways with the world. Some people still know that, and sometimes they make something beautiful from their love of the world’s beauty. And sometimes,  a human interacts with the living world in a new and beautiful way. That’s the story of Vaclav Halek.

Today, while listening to the radio program ‘To The Best Of Our Knowledge’ the story of Vaclav Halek’s willingness to listen to what he heard years ago, and his inspiration to add his own gifts to the mushrooms’ songs so other humans could also hear them sing, brought to mind all the discoveries made about mycelium, lichens, fungi, and other Tiny Ones, such as bacteria. So few humans notice the Tiny Ones, the Small Ones, the Stemmed Ones….all those who are quiet and small and everywhere. Sometimes we “hear symphonies” when in the presence of a grand landscape, or spectacular sky. But Mr. Halek’s symphony came from….mushrooms.

While wandering in the forest in the 1980’s, he first heard music coming from a mushroom. He seemed to have no hesitation in hurrying to write down what he heard. That response started a long relationship with thousands of mushrooms, all of them giving him their own unique music. Melodies, symphonies and many other pieces of music have been created over the years.

Here is the story about Mr. Halek:

https://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/vaclav-halek-composer-inspired-by-the-plaintive-cryof-the-mushroom 

Guardian story

John Cage was a mycologist as well as a musician, and used mushroom names in his works. He also commented that he could hear mushrooms. So Mr. Halek isn’t the only person to be aware of Mushroom’s voice.

Here is the last stanza from his poem ‘Mushrooms’:

they’ll be separated froM the rest of creation
and pUt in a kingdom
by themSelves.
all of tHis is an attempt
to stRaighten
Out
Our understanding of these plants, which perhaps
are not plants at all. so far they’ve
Managed to remain
juSt as mysterious as they ever were.

It’s easy to find a label…’synaesthesia’ and dismiss this man’s work as a harmless pathology.  I invite you to consider if there are other possibilities that hold potential, or simply cause happiness, for what he is doing.

If any of us go outside our walls, away from our electronics, and become quiet and slow and wait for a while, anyone may hear or see new and wonderful ways the world is alive, and maybe even singing to us, and maybe even has something to say or offer that is worth the effort to  listen.

fungus8-11a wintergreen trail
White beauties in the forest

How do you see, or hear, or smell the world? What places or beings could you discover by bringing your special awareness to a part of the world so far unnoticed? Maybe simply being in the presence of a sunset, or a mushroom, or an animal inspires your own creative expression of beauty, and maybe what is around you will also contribute in some way to that creative process. There are so many reasons to go out wandering in the fields and woods, but this is one of the most unique. If you hear a mushroom (or maybe even a lichen), let us know. And if you’re inspired by whatever you find or meet in your wanderings, please share your story.