“English choral music was originally meant for worship and would be heard in a state of quiet meditation. Indeed, this music would have been performed (and often still is) by a choir divided in half — facing one another, rather than the congregation. In my own practice writing this sort of music, this is an important distinction: It is an observed private ritual. Nobody is meant to clap, and the music is not presented to an audience for approval; rather, it is meant to guide the mind out of the building into unseen heights and depths.”
“The music ‘seemed to stir in me a vague memory, something that might have come from a dream,’ Mr. Sarno wrote in a memoir, “Song From the Forest” (1993), ‘voices blending into a subtle polyphony, weaving a melody that rose and fell in endless repetition, as hypnotic as waves breaking on a shore.’”
“The rhythms Mr. Alorwoyie plays and teaches belong to a language that has been stored in generations of memory, rarely recorded or preserved. Ewe songs are forms of communication; in some cases, phrases like ‘the lion is coming’ are reinterpreted as drum patterns, part of an alarm system that existed among villages. (Some songs, Mr. Alorwoyie says, routinely contained criticism of different families in a community.) Without a written history, traditional Ghanaian drumming (of which there are thousands of tiny variations) is part of a family of African song forms that don’t fit easily into Western pedagogical models.
“Baseball on the radio also requires sustained concentration. To really understand what’s happening in the game, you need to have followed every pitch in the inning that led to the current moment…This requires that you to hold your attention on a single target for an extended period of time: another effective exercise to sharpen your ability to focus.”