Sometimes I review books. My task is to read them and see if they’re good enough to publish in foreign languages. Some books are easy to get a feeling for and those which are not appropriate are rapidly set aside. Some books are quite good and I will read them for a longer period of time to confirm that they are acceptable. Rarely, do I find a book which so captures my attention that I will read it from cover to cover.
I’ve been quite fortunate to review two extraordinary books in the last month. One of them is called “Voices of the Earth,” by Clea Danaan. She is a mystical gardener with an extraordinary sensitivity to, amongst other things, plants. In her book, she gives a practical means by which anybody can develop their psychic sensitivity by tuning to the energy of nature. I highly recommend this book to those who are interested in developing their capacity of awareness.
I found one of her descriptions to be extremely relevant to me specifically in regards to the way I perceive and express music. If you have read my musical biography you will have seen that I had difficulty in dealing with dense sheet music. I also moved away from keyboards and became more interested in playing the guitar. Although intuitively I understood that the guitar felt better to me and therefore I related to it better, it was not until I read this book that I understood specifically why this was so. Clea spoke about her own capacity to connect to the energy of the earth and plants as deriving from her feeling their energy. She spoke about the pathway of her intuition as coming from the unconscious, to the subconscious, up to the conscious where she would be able to express her perceptions and share them with others.
As I perceive in the same manner, her explanation spoke directly to my heart. I also realized that there are not that many people who work in this seemingly backwards manner. As far as I am concerned it’s not all backwards. Yet I understand the difficulty others might have in communicating with people who consider the unconsciously received energetic messages as being vastly more important than that which is heard by the ear. Further, when one is aware of the level upon which this unconscious message is received, it is no longer unconscious. It is simply deeper.
I have seen that there are some people with which I can easily play music and there are some I cannot play with it all. Now this is not a great revelation as every musician has the same experience. However in my case when I am around somebody that I do not relate to, my musical capacity reduces so severely that I cannot play at all. Conversely, when I’m around someone who is sensitive to my energy and feels my expression, I can play in ways I could never play before. I feel connected like this when I play with my friend Mamed. The two of us play intuitive music and we feel quite comfortable and inspired doing this.
I started to see the intuitive and quite unusual music that we play in the terms expressed by Clea in her book. If you think of nature energetically, you can see that although the roots of the trees and plants under the earth are intertwined in a manner which can be described as irrational, chaotic, without pattern, unstructured, or unexpected, they manage to cohabit that underground space perfectly. The roots of all of these plants share the same earth, sometimes simply emanating outwards from the core of the plant when no other roots are interfering with their growth and sometimes growing in parallel or around each other to find the free spaces in a densely packed area where a group plants derive nutrition. I started to see what inspired me musically by observing this example of the harmony in nature.
If I am truly connected to my own expressive essence I play music that declares that essence in sound. If I find others who can not only relate to this but embrace it as a means to express themselves I rejoice and my inspiration increases exponentially. If I am forced to play music which is bound by the demands of structure, or if I must play together with others who do not necessarily create from feeling as much as from their experience or their rational capacity, I lose my connection to my expressive essence and I turn into a dull and lifeless figurine. Therefore, I try to avoid coming in contact with or being forced to communicate with those who create music from the “top down” rather than from the “bottom up.”
I have even seen that if I am playing and a thought enters into my head I start to make mistakes. Sometimes I listen to recordings of live performances and I hear wrong notes. Honestly, the scales are quite simple and I know them well, this is not the problem. I remember that I had thought of something while I was playing at that moment and because the thought disrupted the energetic flow of my feeling my fingers were disconnected from the moment and responded to this distraction by rebelling, playing an awful note, and waking me up from this incongruous thought pattern that was sure to destroy the performance.
My capacity to play depends entirely on voiding my mind of thought and completely connecting with my feeling intuition while opening the pathway between my energetic essence and my instrument. This becomes difficult or even impossible if any member of the group is unhappy, disconnected, upset, or distracted. In such a situation, I try to bring the distracted member back into the groove by simplifying the music and accommodating them, just in case they were somewhat insulted or felt left out, but if these kinds are of musical adjustments cannot create a compromise where all members feel comfortable, I withdraw from the music and simply start to play scales up and down, or even worse I start to play boxes. On a guitar playing boxes means you make little boxes with your fingers hitting notes on the four corners of a box and then shifting to another four corners somewhere else on the fret board with the hope that nobody understands you are simply playing geometric patterns. Although a rather unsophisticated audience may not hear boxes, I hear myself playing them and become depressed.
But if I am connected to my essence, and my instrument and I are one, then the flow of the music not only inspires me but captures the attention of the audience who enter into the composition as co-creators of the music and the entire experience brings together all of the people involved in an extremely satisfying, dare I say it, spiritual mood. Obviously, this is not spiritual in a religious sense, since there is nothing even remotely religious about our improvisations. The spirituality of it is nonetheless felt by all participants (the musicians as well as the audience) as we are connect energetically on the spiritual level when our collective essence flows throughout the room and we experience the truth of the statement that there is only one of us. Experiencing the idea that there is only one of us is easily done when everyone moves together, feels together, expresses together as one.
I have found that it is a rare audience who can connect to a completely improvised, intuitive, and perhaps even musically psychic performance. Yet when such a rare instance occurs it is for me without a doubt a truly inspiring peak experience. Although I yearn for this I know full well you cannot force such experiences to occur. People who are not ready to participate in the creation of mystical musical communication should not have intuitive music forced upon them for it creates a distorted expression that backfires on the musicians and upsets the audience.
The opportunities to play live music are small considering how many bands there are at the present moment and the predominance of recorded music at events. Consider how much more difficult it is to present a music that is quite contrary to that which is spoon fed and cultivated by those who see music simply as a means to economic gain. So I do understand and am well aware that one of the most significant challenges of my life is finding the means by which I can express myself through the musical medium without compromising what I am and without considering it as a potential form of income. This makes art simply art and not business. I cannot say that this is the superior or preferred form of art for art is vast and appears in many forms with many purposes. But I do know I have been blessed with the capacity to express myself without expectation of economic gain. Factually, if I had to consider the economics of my music I would no longer be able to express my essence.
Some would consider this statement a rationalization expressed by one who is not a successful and prosperous musician. Although this is also true to some extent, I do not label myself as a musician; rather, I am someone who plays music or more accurately, expresses himself through music. I am fine with that.