Tuesday, October 15, 2013

No mud - no music

If you are a poet you will clearly see that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are... You cannot point out one thing that is not here [in this sheet of paper] - time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the sunshine, the cloud, the river the heat. Everything coexists with this sheet of paper... This sheet of paper is, because everything else is'.
That is the Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh writing in 'The Heart of Understanding'. My header image shows Arun Ghosh's A South Asian Suite, an Indo-Jazz chamber work inspired by the landscape and cultures of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as seen from the viewpoint of a British-Asian composer living in a northern English town. A South Asian Suite is rich in meta content and in his sleeve note Arun Ghosh writes about the "sweltering conditions" at the sessions, the "delicate monster" of a harmonium used for the recording and the "spiritual spaces" it has been performed in. Just as everything coexists with Thich Nhat Hanh's sheet of paper, so everything coexists with Arun Ghosh's music; from the studio conditions, through the technologies deployed in its distribution and on to the minerals used to make the CD, and ultimately to the sunshine and the soil. In fact The South Asian Suite coexists with a sheet of paper and everything else on this earth: this music is, because everything else is. Thich Nhat Hanh once famously declared "no mud, no lotus" and his teaching of interbeing also applies to music. Today bandwidth, both technical and cerebral, is at a premium, so all the analogue mud is stripped out of music in the single-minded pursuit of accessibility. But, to paraphrase Thich Nhat Hanh, no mud - no music

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