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Welcome to Musical Geographies, a blog by Priya Parrotta. The writing here is inspired by the academic field and lived reality of musical geography. Put simply, musical geography describes the interactions between music, sound and space. It also describes the concrete and the mysterious ways in which such interactions deeply shape our lives. The writing here is all, in some way or another, propelled by a desire to affirm music’s relationship to the landscapes within which we live, and vice versa. Some of these posts are write-ups of movie soundtracks, while others are “accompaniments” to Priya’s environmental music. Still others … Continue reading Welcome!

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Men Who Doubt Infinity

In Oxford, the moon shines with a particular intensity. At least, it certainly seemed that way to me. Every evening, once darkness had stretched fully across the night sky, like a blanket of fresh ink, the moon would appear and compel my gaze. Its cosmic, cyclical transformations provided a mysterious sort of reassurance and stability as I sought to acclimatize to the city’s peculiarities and specificities. The moon found me at different places on different days. Sometimes we met as I was crossing the bridge that separates Cowley Road from High Street. At times, I glimpsed her while walking north … Continue reading Men Who Doubt Infinity


Once upon a time, on a frosty day in January, I was on a domestic flight from one city in the United States of America to another. I was seated next to a fellow named Joe, who spent the first thirty seconds of the flight flipping through the airline magazine, and the next thirty talking to me. “You going home?” He asked. “Sort of…” I replied, as my voice trailed off. “I’m returning from a trip to South Africa.” “Oh, cool!” Joe said, adjusting himself in his seat and leaning in a little closer to hear me over the plane’s loud … Continue reading “Random”

The politics of life

I woke up this morning, and the day before, and the day before that, to a world that is gripped in currents of disease– in many senses of the word. We are seeing not only the way in which physical sickness can take hold and spread across vast swaths of the Earth; we are also seeing the ways in which our political systems perpetrate injustices that reveal a hatred of life. Profit-seeking meets authoritarianism meets centuries-old precedents of racial and environmental injustice– all of these combine to create regimes in countries across the globe, including and especially the US, that … Continue reading The politics of life

Life of Pi

As the sun sets and the mystery of darkness takes its place, I wonder about the places I have never been to. I wonder about this world, its waters and its skies and its beings. I wonder at what we call the miracle of life, and I wonder where that miracle resides. Does it have a home? Does it have a name? Does it fly or swim? does it have roots or wings? Where does it live, where on this revolving blue marble where you and I reside? Are we a part of it? Tonight, these wonderings are woven together … Continue reading Life of Pi


Earthquakes have sent shockwaves across Puerto Rico this week, causing significant damages in the South and countless frayed nerves in the North. Early on Tuesday morning, as one of the stronger quakes shook buildings across the island, I lay in my San Juan bedroom, pillow over my head, praying and humming to find some sort of stability in this radically unfamiliar experience. For those who live in earthquake-prone areas of the world and experience this kind of thing on a regular basis, perhaps it is not as scary. But for those of us who have never experienced this before, and … Continue reading Temblores

Little Women

Alexandre Desplat — Visit his profile on Spotify, and you will find him listed as the composer of a number of film soundtracks. Among these are Shape of Water, J’Accuse, and Suburbicon. Also listed in his profile is a mysterious album called Godric’s Hollow Graveyard, by Sea Turtle Harmonic… an artist/album name which is a little too close to my thoughts, and my bookshelf. Most recently, Desplat composed the soundtrack to the latest film adaptation of Little Women, which I had the good fortune of seeing today.  Little Women is a Civil War-era novel by Louisa May Alcott. The novel … Continue reading Little Women

Nada yoga

A ten minute walk from where I live, there is a yoga studio. And in that studio, there is a book. And in that small book, there are vast ideas about sound. When I first began to practice yoga, I was entranced more by yogic philosophy than by asana (the physical practice).  I was enchanted not so much by the physical changes that are possible through a regular practice, but rather by the fact that those physical postures represent only one branch of a much broader system of understanding and interacting with the world. My first experiences of yoga as … Continue reading Nada yoga

An afternoon for coastlines

“Coastlines” is a word that encompasses more of the world than many people realize. About 2.4 billion people (around 40% of the world’s population) live within 100 km (60 miles) of a coast. And more than 600 million people (about 10% of the global population) live in coastal areas—places that are less than 10 meters above sea level… places that for millennia have served as important crossroads and cradles of life… places which are now experiencing sea level rise, a threat that links us, as it threatens the fabric of our lives. “Our” lives… hm… I write this blogpost as … Continue reading An afternoon for coastlines

One Irish Rover

When I was six years old, I learned how to tell time. I had some idea of time before, of course—I knew the difference between yesterday, today and tomorrow, and I certainly know the difference between “now” and “later.” I suppose that when I say I learned to tell time, I mean that I learned how to process and express life in minutes, seconds, hours. I learned how we humans differentiate between moments, and how we express our expectations that things will happen sooner, rather than later; now, rather than then; and on time, rather than too late. My homework … Continue reading One Irish Rover

Dumbledore’s Army

Growing up, my favorite Harry Potter book was, without question, the third: The Prisoner of Azkaban. It introduced some of the coziest and most sophisticated elements of the series: the quaint and magical village of Hogsmeade (with its owl-filled post office and its iconic and signature drink, Butterbeer); the Marauder’s Map, the ingenious creation of a few teenagers; the Firebolt, a broomstick of unparalleled performance; and the Time-Turner, a delicate hourglass that allows you to turn back time, and ends up playing a key role in the story. The Prisoner of Azkaban is also when we are first introduced to … Continue reading Dumbledore’s Army

The Red Violin

The first time I watched The Red Violin, I thought that its story was intensely ominous, and laced with menacing superstition. But lately, I’ve begun to believe that it is also achingly beautiful, and as searing a testament to the importance of an instrument as ever there was. The Red Violin tells the story of a small violin, crafted and painted red by Niccolò Bussotti in the late seventeenth century. Widely considered Bussotti’s masterpiece, stories of the violin circulated for hundreds of years, as the instrument passed hands from player to player. By the late 1990s, which is when the last part of … Continue reading The Red Violin