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What Is Rubymusyk?



As with Flofilms, Rubymusyk has a fairly simple definition, that is, music which evokes some aspect of menstruation.

But almost immediately, things get complicated: As I pointed out in my query letter to Rolling Stone magazine, the (average) "12-times-a-year menstrual cycle" is a rhythm; one can think of the interplay of hormones as an interplay of voices and instruments; conception, pregnancy, birth, abortion, miscarriage, menopause, as well as oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy, adding new layers of sound, different voices, different rhythms...

If taken too literally, one might end up with a piece of music (in 4/4 time) 3 bars long, each bar containing 4 quarter notes (at least, that's what Janis and I were able to come up with over the phone one night!)...and as most women on the planet today experience between 100-450 menstrual cycles, this "piece of music" would have to be repeated between 10 and 40 times, to symbolize any given woman's "ovulatory lifetime" -- whether this would evoke a response in a listener is the question.

I'm sure the above line of reasoning may seem crude (and absurd) to many musicians -- but it does demonstrate (at least to my mind) that the menstrual cycle can indeed be a starting point for a riff, a jam session, a set of lyrics...an entire CD, or symphony...I almost hate to present this as a possibility, because I think some people may assume that what I'm saying is, female musicians are obligated to create music in this way...I instead think of it as an opportunity...I think of that scene in the movie "What's Love Got To Do With It?," where the Ike Turner character kneels before the Tina Turner character, his hands on her lower abdomen, telling Tina he wants her to sing from down there, from the gut. And I've always kind of wondered, what does that mean, "from the gut," for a female musician? That means from the uterus, right? Or so I've always wondered.

As well, the menstrual cycle presents, I think, exciting lyrical possibilities. I myself wrote Traveling Menstrual Show after reading through the CD liner notes for Alanis Morrisette's "Jagged Little Pill." It was intriguing to me that although the line lengths seemed to vary randomly, when I went and counted out the syllables in each stanza, I found that the syllable count was the same for all the stanzas in a particular song. Hey, I think I can do that!

I set myself the goal of writing 10 menstrual lyrics -- just because I had the sneaking suspicion it was impossible, and that I would run out of things to say well before I reached lyric #10. However, what I found was, after writing "Church Father," that automatically generated "Armchair Feminist," which in turn generated "I Need a Vacation from Gender" -- lyrics not about menstruation per se, but which emerged spontaneously out of my close focus on menstruation. I am excited by the thought of other poets/lyricists/musicians setting a similar goal of 10 menstrual lyrics...and what may emerge of a "nonmenstrual" nature in their lyric-writing process.

Rubymusyk also encompasses music specifically made to be listened to during the premenstrual phase and/or while menstruating -- I mean, in the 60's there was the concept of "head music" (not that I'm 100% certain what that refers to!)...it's a bit strange that there is no musical genre meant to be listened to or danced to the week or so before our periods, a time of heightened emotion and energy for many women. Nor is there a specific musical genre for us to listen to if we have cramps...the stereotype of a woman with menstrual cramps is someone lying very still on a bed, clasping a hot water bottle, or lying in the bathtub; however, I've found that dancing, sometimes vigorously and sometimes gently, gets rid of cramps. I can remember in my late 20's, dancing at a bar to the Talking Heads and my cramps "magically" disappearing; now, having just turned 40, I find Sade's Greatest Hits works wonders also. But I can't help fantasizing about someone putting out an entire CD's worth of Rubymusyk...perhaps even using some of the lyrics from Traveling Menstrual Show!

Now, for a few examples of what I like to think of as rubymusyk lyrics: (all lyrics copyright their respective authors)

The Bloods, A Self-Help Song

you might think it's ludicrous
but when the moon is full I feel my uterus
and I know that the time a-comin', a-comin' soon
some sisters get down for menstruation
ain't no time for sad desperation
there's a new day comin' when you got the bloods again

Because you know your body is a workin' alright
if you had self-help you could watch all night
get your speculum at your neigborhood clinic
learn about your cervix and what's in it
there's a new day comin' when you got the bloods again.

© 1974 Debbie Lempke

Celebration for a Menarche

Come into the loving and wel--come of women,
bring your blood marked face.
You a-re strong in your blood's con-nec-tion,
You are a wo-man among wo-men.

Come into the loving and welcome of women.
Be born into your own birth.
Be born from this moment into your own life.
You are a woman among women.

© 1976 Ruth Mountaingrove

Menstrual Tango

I was 12 when it happened, this mysterious thing
Overnight my hips grew and my uterus started to sing (la, la, la)
A voice said to me "You're mature, now you'll have fun
For today darlin' you are a woman"

Do the menstrual tango if you dare
Do the menstrual tango in your underwear
Do the menstrual tango, it'll make you grunt
For the next 40 years, it'll happen once a month



© 1994 Jamie Anderson. Go to www.jamieanderson.com



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