Monday, November 16, 2009

The Tao of music

However, back to the beat - something it seems we must return to with regularity in some form or another, if we wish to cooperate with the natural regulatory forces of existence. I instinctively knew at the age of four that rhythm was the palpable expression, at the deepest level, of the universe in motion...

Understand the rhythm of life - not intellectually but by feeling it in your body - and you understand the rhythm of the way the forces of expansion and contraction, the yin and yang of Taoist philosophy, the zeroes and ones of our present technological reality, alternate with each other. Understand that and you understand the rise and fall of fortune. Understand that and you have a chance of seeing through the everyday game to the eternal state behind it.
Those words come from the newly published The Man Who Drove With His Eyes Closed by the idiosyncratic Taoist Stephen Russell, who was an early exponent of group drumming as music therapy.

Now for a question: which famous musician is flat on his back in my header photo? Let me give you a clue. He supplied the foreword to Taoist Qigong for Health and Vitality, A Complete Program of Movement, Meditation, and Healing Sounds. Yes, that is Philip Glass with his Qigong teacher Sat Hon. The image is a still from Scott Hicks' illuminating, inspiring and highly recommended film Glass, a portrait of Philip in twelve parts.

And talking of Taoism, can you guess who this is speaking?
I discovered the Tao Te King of Lao Tse about five years ago. It's one of the most important books in the history of mankind. We were never able to have a Bible at home, but this was 1987, so Gorbachev's glasnost was beginning to have its effects, and there were unofficial booksellers on the streets. It was a Bible in Russian, and I still have it. My parents thought I was losing my mind.The way yoga changes your perception of the world is amazing. It's another kind of ecstatic experience.'
Interestingly that quote comes from the highly acclaimed principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra Vladimir Jurowski and it appeared in my post Why I am sorely disillusioned with Gergiev. Did someone mention yin and yang?


Staying with minimalism, Steve Reich's classic celebration of the rhythm of life Drumming is on the CD seen above, which featured here last year in The forgotten Lady Atomic. And there is no shortage of rhythm in the disc featured below, Damba Moon has Ensemble Bash playing kpanlogo music, from the south of Ghana.


There is more music of Black Africa here while further east there is a little-known gem for percussion, Lou Harrison's Fifth Symfony.

The Man Who Drove With His Eyes Closed and Glass, a portrait of Philip in twelve parts were borrowed from Norwich library, the CDs mentioned in the post were bought at retail price. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

2 comments:

Pliable said...

After uploading this article I noticed that there is a book titled The Tao of Music -

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=5kBh0FvRZLEC&pg=PR12&lpg=PR12&dq=the+tao+of+music+ortiz&source=bl&ots=xw1yi0gXzh&sig=zRufMDRz-7wxaKvDKT3-ABZ0fdE&hl=en&ei=CIEBS5axMdvajQfG7NCWCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=&f=false

http://www.amazon.com/Tao-Music-Sound-Psychology/dp/1578630088/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1258389660&sr=8-1

Pliable said...

The link between the I Ching and the creation of the binary system used in computers, CDs etc etc is an interesting one -

http://www.kerryr.net/pioneers/leibniz.htm