|Matt Venuti on the hang|
When I opened this month's newsletter from the Yoga Sanctuary, I noticed that the studio was hosting a concert by Matt Venuti. I clicked through to the video and listened to Venuti sing a lovely song while playing the hang. In the midst of a busy season, a night of quiet music in an intimate setting sounded like just what the doctor ordered.
|Hang at rest|
Playing the hang involves a combination of caressing and beating on the instrument with your hands. To "tune" the instrument, Venuti spun it around on his lap until his hands landed in the right place as he played. The hang can also be played standing on its side. To me, the sound is somewhat similar to that of a steel drum, but the context was so different from, say, listening to John Patti perform with Jim Morris that the analogy doesn't seem quite right. (Click here to listen to the title track of Venuti's CD entitled "Rise.")
Venuti also played a few songs on his prototype of the gubal. (The instrument is not being launched until May, and Venuti is the proud owner of the only gubal in the United States.) The gubal looks even more like a spaceship than the hang, as it has a cylindrical piece that extends from the bottom that could serve as a cabin. The gubal has a rolled hole in the top of the instrument, and it has a deeper resonance than the hang.
In past years, Venuti's concerts were purely instrumental. On this tour, he has added lyrics to his compositions. He calls them sounds of life, loss, love, and surrender. Venuti's wife passed away five years ago, and his language flows from his efforts to come to terms with that loss. While the words don't specifically reference his wife, having that background added poignancy to songs with titles like "A Place to Breathe." The lyrics were uniformly beautiful, and definitely enhanced the evening.
I left the concert feeling pensive rather than relaxed. We live in an uncertain world. The question is not whether we will suffer losses and difficulties, but how we will deal with those circumstances when they occur. Venuti's music suggests approaching life with an open mind and an open heart. Easier said than done, but it's a goal worth aspiring to.