Tuesday, February 28, 2012


It's always good to start  a journey with an orientation, isn't it?  A "facing-the-orient" brings us into an expectant relationship with the rising sun.  Another way to say orientation is an explanation of the framework and perspective of a system of experience and thought, an outline of what's ahead.  So I will say from the outset that I personally am most deeply oriented to MELODY, to lyrical statement that arises from the center of the soul.  Melody is both the expression of the whole person and soul, and the vehicle by which the soul moves and journeys. 

I thought a beautiful way to get oriented (and by this, I also mean to be consciously pointed in the ways that I think about and experience music) would be with a few quotes I ran across on an album by the master clarinetist and mandolin player, Andy Statman.  I really wasn't aware of Statman until my close friend, artist Claude Smith, turned me on to him.  These are quotes from some great Chasidic masters:

“Words are the pen of the heart, but music is the pen of the soul.”
          --  Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi

“Deveykus (cleaving to God) is primarily attained through melody.  A holy melody can even bring one to a state of prophecy.”
          --  Rabbi Nachman of Breslev

“All spiritual transformations from one level to the next are attained through melody.  In this way, the form of a thing becomes nullified, and a new creation comes into being.”
          --  Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi

There are more of these quotes, but that's a good start.   I have to say that my heart leapt when I read these wonderful sayings from Jewish mystics.  Doesn't it always feel like that, when we run across something that expresses our own inmost cherished beliefs and yearnings?

I will have more to say about melody, lyric, the journey, but that's a good start for now.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the inspiring blog entry, and especially for the quotes. As a primarily rhythm focused listener, I welcome learning about and being exposed to your contemplations about melody. I happen to be attracted primarily to the melding of rhythm and melody, and with popular music, I never listen to words. Sometimes, it is pointed out to me, that I should listen to the words, especially when, apparently, songs I like don't match who I am. I imagine that is why I love World music so much, because I don't have a clue about the language, but the rhythm and melody....ah! -Karen Koshgarian