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My dog, Sally, takes the lead most mornings. She bounds down the three flights of stairs to freedom. Usually I let her begin the walk off-leash, so when she gets to the bottom, she gets to choose which way to go. Her favourite direction is toward the park (no-brainer), because that direction includes both a romp in the thick grass, but also, the possibility of the adventure-walk (down the big hill and through the fields). Sadly, most days, the morning walk is perfunctory – I am pressed for time, and so we take the “usual” walk through the neighbourhood, no park and no adventure.

The predictable path of our morning walk is a rut, and I am becoming as bored of it as I imagine Sally already is. Today, the walk became a metaphor of all of the ruts and routines that govern my life. At the core, I am an adventurer – an explorer. But, I am also very much reliant on routines, as we all are. Structure helps us function in the world, providing hooks on which we can hang our necessary tasks and tools, freeing up space for attention to the unexpected or unusual.

My musical life has ruts too, some of them welcome and well-worn, others limiting and lifeless. When I get in one of the latter ruts, I have a few strategies for finding something fresh and interesting, and as with most things, it primarily involves being an attentive listener, and a relentless Google-searcher.

During these weeks of exploring the “something new” of Ordinary Time, I will share some of these resources with you. Today I introduce you to NoiseTrade. NoiseTrade started as a place where indy artists could share their music for free, and has grown into a global online source for music and books. Artists share their creations, music-lovers can explore and immerse themselves in music that would never be available to them through traditional sources. The web site includes search functions for a wide variety of musical genres, and you can listen to, and download, almost anything for free. “Tipping” the artists is a low-key way of supporting them, and it gives you a sense of making a real contribution to the creation of new and emerging work. Check out the artists I have linked to below, or do your own exploring this week. Get out of a musical rut by clicking on a genre that you’re unfamiliar with and spend some time listening. I hope you find a new road that you can make your own.


Explore all genres here:

Explore Christian and Gospel music here:

Artist, Lizzie Stanley:

Group, Numinous: