Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Tamarind Springs Retreat,
Ko Samui, Thailand

Tamarind Springs nestles on a lush hillside just outside Lanai, Ko Samui, and specializes in top quality massage. If you are seeking an indulgent, revivifying experience, this is the place for you.

The path to Tamarind winds through a luxuriant grove of palm trees, and its gorgeous setting immediately inspires a sense of relaxation. You are greeted with elegant smiles and a glass of refreshing tea.

After showering, you relax in an amazing herbal sauna and cold plunge built around one of the huge rock formations which dot the hillside - a delightful and rejuvenating experience providing a sense of organic communion with nature.

Then comes the massage, in a private pavilion or ‘sala’ resting above dense jungle vegetation and overlooking the gorgeous Ko Samui foothills.

My masseuse was a serenely calm Thai lady who provided me with one of the most peaceful and rejuvenating experiences of my life. As I concentrated on deep breathing I felt my worries drift away. After a two-hour massage - the best I’ve ever had - I experienced a tearful release as all my pen-up emotions evaporated into nothingness.

If you are wondering how Tamarind connects with the musical theme of this blog, this wonderful adventure was accompanied by the most heavenly sound imaginable. As I was being pampered and gently pulverized by capable Thai hands, birds of paradise gently cooed back and forth between the palms. Their melodic chattering was carried aloft on the balmy jungle breeze, providing a blissful backdrop.

The voices of birds have always fascinated musicians, who have been inspired to integrate birdsong into their compositions. In the classical realm, Janequin's Le Chant Des Oiseaux, written in the 16th century, famously imitated birdsong. Later on, Beethoven and Messiaen were also inspired by the sound of birds.

In the jazz world, American legend Eric Dolphy practiced flute while listening to birds. Bluesman Duane Allman even devised a unique slide guitar technique that enabled him to imitate the sounds of birds, in part as a tribute to Charlie 'Bird' Parker. Other rock acts including Pink Floyd, Kate Bush and others have included bird sound effects on their recordings in an effort to create calming, pastoral atmospheres.

The French composer François-Bernard Mâche even devised zoomusicology, the study of the music of animals. His essay Musique, mythe, nature, ou les Dauphins d'Arion includes a study of "ornitho-musicology", in which he speaks of "animal musics" and a longing to connect with nature.

Such lofty intellectual notions were far from my mind during that peaceful afternoon, but I think I know what Mâche was getting at. "Animal music" does indeed provide a sense of connection with something we have lost. Somehow I felt I had reconnected with an essential part of my own nature, with nature itself, and the music of the Tamarind birds provided the perfect soundtrack.


Cushion Meg said...

Hi Shiffi, Welcome back! Your blog conveyed well the superb atmosphere of the resort and made me give a thought to birds. How can birds be gifted with such wonderful voices? We never call dogs' barking music but we say birds are singing. The bird might be the only creature that is a naturally-born-singer. Oh, I forgot that the Japanese have a similar sentiment for some insects' buzz as they have for birds' twitter. Anyway, I would love to escape this concrete jungle!

Shiffi Le Soy said...

Thank you Cushion Meg. It's good to be home, but I'm on the move to Fuji Rock again soon.

Whales sing too, but that's a mournful, sad song they sing. Birdsong is more uplifting.

Anonymous said...

Sigh...Do you have any free passes?