Sunday, March 11, 2012

"Giving Voice": Cut 2: The Meeting Pool at Moonrise

2.         The Meeting Pool at Moonrise

This is a very dream-like piece, with figures that weave through the middle and upper voices.  As I said on the album, we really become human as we share our stories with each other, as we take each other’s stories into our own hearts.  Through hundreds of thousands of years, we have been doing this, often around a campfire, a gathering at the end of the day:  an exciting hunt, a scary encounter, a funny stumble, a heart-felt connection or an old memory.....  each is recounted, re-enacted and shared.   There was also the common meeting pool where people come together, to get water, to play, to wash, sometimes just to watch the water flow by and the dragon flies hover and dart, and more stories are shared.   But at night, when people come to be by the meeting pool, and the moon rises, an entirely different order of story is being shared, something deeper and harder to express, something too delicate to be brought out in full sunlight.

Sharing stories, to use a term coined by an older metaphysical novelist and writer, Charles Williams, we “in-other” each other.  That is, we take each other in and partake of each other, and in a sacramental way even become each other.  Have you noticed that I tend to talk about these things with images and stories and concepts and thoughts, instead of some kind of abstract musical terms?  The aspect of story-telling, the music as “statement” and journey are an important part of the process for me. I do not think in literal terms, or at least rarely do.  But I follow the journey of the heart and it often feels very concrete.

For the performer, it is easy to get lost in sheer pattern on a piece like this, because it is very trancelike.  The trick is to keep looking up, continuing to let new moonbeams illumine new parts of the theme in different places.

The creation of the piece was more like suddenly discovering a new kind of space, a new horizon, and felt very akin to being suddenly penetrated with a new and very complex fragrance.  It made me remember that in the last conversations I had with Robbie Basho before he died, he had said that he saw his main strength as being a purveyor of fragrances.  Now, knowing that he was a Sufi, I also understood this as a spiritual metaphor as well, and a reference to the famous13th century Sufi saint who took the name Attar, who was a pharmacist also.  Another aspect of this term “fragrance” is that it is an English equivalent perhaps of that Indian term “rasa”, or the emotional essences that define each raga.  At the time Robbie said this to me, I felt that it underplayed one of his great strengths, that of melodic invention and forming.  But now, years later, when I stumbled into a new kind of musical space myself, the experience was powerful, even primal, in a way that smelling is the oldest of our five senses and connects to the deepest and oldest part of the brain.  In fact, it felt exactly like discovering a new world through a fragrance.

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