Saturday, July 03, 2010

The Cosmic Suite: Open Your Ears and Listen to Reality!

As mentioned in what turned out to be last Sunday's musical thread, I've long thought about devoting one post a week to the subject of music, since it is one of my three favorites of the seven slackraments of Raccoon life.

One commenter said something to the effect that music was the one thing that had kept them connected to spirit during their years of wandering in the absurcular desert. I was probably the same way. The attraction to music itself was a kind of mystery that demanded an explanation: how can we be so deeply attracted to, and moved by, something that has no evolutionary utility whatsoever? Yes, yes, there is a Darwinian explanation for everything: short, plausible, and wrong, so let's move on.

Anyway, feel free to consider this an open thread. I'm just going to begin blah blah blogging as usual, except instead of free associating in the realm of language, I'm going to switch octaves and improvise in the key of music. More often than not, this is a hazardous venture, since words about music rarely reach their target. A lot of writing about music is pretty tedious, and only of interest to the person writing it. There are some gifted music critics, but most are such bad writers to begin with that even if they had a good idea, they couldn't express it properly.

Really, it's not that different from theological writing, is it? What percentage of it is not only bad, but probably wrong as well? Who knows, but I would say the great majority. I'm currently trying to read this new critical study of Van Morrison, but it quickly got bogged down in vague, flabby, excessive, and sometimes pretentious bloviating. There might be some good things in it, but it is badly in need of an editor. It reads like a first draft.

Right there -- there's a good topic: what are some good books on music? I'm always on the lookout for any. In fact, I was very much searching for any in the course of writing my book. I looked high and low, from baritone to falsetto, but the most useful one I discovered was Victor Zukerkandl's Sound and Symbol: Music and the External World. As you can see, the book is so obscure that it doesn't even have a single review, and is ranked like #650,000.

But the reason why I was in search of such books goes back to what I said above in the first paragraph about how music had always kept me connected to spirit, even back when I was a frivolous and drunken fratboy without a frat. Among the rejected titles for the book was The Cosmic Suite, the idea being that it is structured like a symphony with four movements: Matter, Life, Mind and Spirit. Those first few pages with all the crazy writing are supposed to be like the whatchamacallit at the beginning of the symphony that introduces all of the themes that will be explored and developed later, like the da-da-da-DUM that Beethoven stole from the Electric Light Orchestra.

I think I mentioned this somewhere in the book. Here it is, pp. 22-23. Regarding the four movements, Gagdad writes that

"If I may borrow a musical analogy" -- please, go right ahead. Just return it when you're done -- "I see these modes of being as the four great 'chords' constituting the song of existence. As improvisational (i.e., jazz) musicians can tell you, when they perform a solo, they are attempting to trace a coherent line, an artistically true and beautiful pathway through the chordal structure of musical space. At each step along the way, there are literally an infinite number of potential pathways through the chords, some of which will be 'complete' and musically satisfying, others banal, predictatble, and unable to explicate the musical potential implicit in the chords. This is my best attempt at such a solo, with the full understanding that there are any number of fellow improvisational scholars who would 'run the changes' differently."

Come to think of it, this would be my all-purpose response to any and all trolls: hey, it's jazz, baby. If you think you can do better, pick up your axe, get on the stage, and show us! No one is excluded from a jam session. But if you get into a cutting contest with another player, you had better have some chops. Don't just be a music critic. Rather, show us what you got! Our feelings won't be hurt. As I just said, we are well aware of the fact that other musicians will run the changes differently, so stop blowing so much and blow cat blow!

Indeed, no two people will ever run the changes the same way, unless one of them is just copying the other. Interestingly, our unique personhood extends to the realm of music, so that no two musicians ever sound the same. What's especially odd about this is that people playing the idential instrument sound entirely different. On tenor sax, Sonny Rollins sounds nothing like John Coltrane, who sounds nothing like Stan Getz, who sounds nothing like Pharoah Sanders, who sounds nothing like Wayne Shorter, who sounds nothing like Booker Ervin. Is one of them "wrong?"

It's even weirder with piano, where there isn't as much apparent "flexibility" in the instrument. It reminds me of something a musician once said of Thelonious Monk: man, he's the only cat I've ever heard who can bend the notes on a piano.

As you can see in the sidebar, I'm currently reading the Summa of the Summa, one of the virtues of which is the helpful footnotes. Therefore, you can both read the book and read a reader who already understands it. More to the point, Thomas wrote in such a manner that he tried to exclude himself from the discussion, which you might say is the opposite of a jazz mentality, in that the former is aiming for universality rather than individuality. Therefore, important passages can come and go without Thomas saying to the reader, NOW PAY ATTENTION HERE, MORON, BECAUSE THIS IS THE TAKEAWAY POINT!

So someday, after my book is in the public domain and I am no longer receiving my annual double-digit royalty check, I hope some slavish devotee will come along and publish a Summa of the Coonifesto, and insert footnotes that say NOW PAY ATTENTION HERE, MORON, BECAUSE THIS WAS THE B'OB'S THE TAKEAWAY POINT! Because one of those points is the above paragraph regarding the musical structure of the book and the cosmos it attempts to sing.

As mentioned, I looked everywhere for books that treated the cosmos as a giant symphony -- or jam session -- but found none (except for one by a new age pneumababbler). So it was down to me. As I indicated in the book's joycetification, it's easy enough for some toothless banjo-picker sitting barefoot on a little bridge of tenure to drone on and on in the key of matter or Darwin or Marxism or whatever. Okay, we get it. But if you're going to try to play the whole cosmic suite, you'll need to master a few more instruments, not the least of which being theology and metaphysics. To try to play the cosmic suite without metaphysics is like trying to play the symphony without the violin section. Indeed,

"The universe is like a holographic, multidimensional musical score that must be read, understood, and performed. Like the score of a symphony, it is full of information that can be rendered in different ways. The score can support diverse interpretations, but surely one of them cannot be music does not exist."

Again: NOW PAY ATTENTION HERE, MORON, BECAUSE THIS IS THE TAKEAWAY POINT! And it really is. The cosmos is a very different thing when you extricate yourself from your little scientistic box that neatly encloses it in quantities, and instead regard it as fundamentally -- I said FUNDAMENTALLY! -- musical.

This goes back again to the first paragraph of this post, and how our attraction to music is a mystery that demands an explanation. In my opinion, we are attracted to music for the reason that it imparts real knowledge of reality. Indeed, you could even say that we love music because we are music. Zuckerkandl comes close to saying this when he writes that

"The knowledge of space that hand and eye possess is exactly matched by their ignorance of time.... A true image of time must be an image for the ear, an audible image, an image made of tones.... Thanks to music, we are able to behold time."

So listen to your life, and hear how it is an individual solo, and yet, part of a much larger composition situated both in space and time -- and eternity:

"For at the end of the day, we are each a unique and unrepeatable melody that can, if only we pay close enough attention to the polyphonic score that surrounds and abides within us, harmonize existence in our own beautiful way, and thereby hear the vespered strains of the Song Supreme" (Gagdad).

Oh, and one last helpful tip from my future collaborator: PAY ATTENTION TO THAT LAST POINT, MORON, BECAUSE IT WAS REALLY IMPORTANT!


Blogger Tigtog said...

"But the reason why I was in search of such books goes back to what I said above in the first paragraph about how music had always kept me connected to spirit, even back when I was a frivolous and drunken fratboy without a frat. "

Good thing you didn't play lacrosse, they would have crucified you.

Woke this morning and started picking out Brian Wilson's "Wouldn't It Be Nice" on the guitar. Not a really big Beach Boy fan, but the simplicity and innocence of the song is attractive. Also the range of the melody is fun on a fret-board. Asked my wife what were the words and she told me. What struck me was how child like the perspective. It made we wonder if Brian wrote the lyrics somewhere in 63-64 as opposed to 67-68. After all, he was married at the time. The other consideration was that Brian was seeking his innocence with the song. (He was pretty well fried mentally by the time of Pet Sounds). Don't know what his intention was, but do like the melody.

7/03/2010 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Have you ever heard the Pet Sounds Sessions? Very cool. It has the backing tracks stripped of vocals, and the vocals without the backing tracks. It may be melodically simple, but it is harmonically -- end especially "texturally" -- complex. It's hard to hear this on the old mono recording, but the remixed box really brings it out.

Can't find the backing track, but here is the vocal track. Better yet, God Only Knows.

7/03/2010 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Brian only became fried after Pet Sounds, during the Smile sessions -- which are, by the way, even greater than the Pet Sounds sessions, so he had by no means lost his gift.

Also, the lyrics to Wouldn't It Be Nice were mostly written by Tony Asher, Wilson's collaborator at the time. The whole concept of the album was to tell the story of a journey from childhood innocence to adult growth and disillusionment, culminating in the plaintive Caroline No.

7/03/2010 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

Never really listened to Pet Sounds. My first real album was "All Summer Long". My only other Beach Boys album was "Surfs Up".

Very nice. Sort of Gregorian chant meets Bach. Brian had a very melodic mind. What is your take on what happened to him?

7/03/2010 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I believe Brian was fragile to begin with, but that drugs pushed him over the edge to psychosis. There was also tremendous pressure on him at the time, since he was the whole show -- writing and producing three albums a year and a hit single every three months. He was supporting the whole family, not just his brothers and cousin, but his father as well! To think that he produced Pet Sounds at the age of 23 is just mind-boggling.

7/03/2010 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I might add that as a child, he was emotionally and physically abused by his father, so that also contributed heavily to his vulnerability. He is actually deaf in one ear, supposedly because his father whacked him so hard on the side of his head. He has never heard stereo.

7/03/2010 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

“As mentioned, I looked everywhere for books that treated the cosmos as a giant symphony -- or jam session -- but found none. So it was down to me.”

Very glad you did, but… J.R.R. Tolkein, The Silmarillion, Ainulindale: The Music of the Ainur
There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Iluvatar; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought, and they were with him before aught else was made. And he spoke to them, propounding to them themes of music; and they sang before him, and he was glad. But for a long while they sang only each alone, or but few together, while the rest hearkened; for each comprehended only that part of the mind of Iluvatar from which he came, and in the understanding of their brethren they grew but slowly. Yet ever as they listened they came to deeper understanding, and increased in unison and harmony.

And it came to pass that Iluvatar called together all the Ainur and declared to them a mighty theme, unfolding to them things greater and more wonderful than he had yet revealed; and the glory of its beginning and the splendor of its end amazed the Ainur, so that they bowed before Iluvatar and were silent.

Then Iluvatar said to them: ‘Of the theme that I have declared to you, I will now that ye make in harmony together a Great Music. And since I have kindled you with the Flame Imperishable, ye shall show forth your powers in adorning this theme, each with his own thoughts and devices, if he will. But I will sit and hearken and be glad through you great beauty has been wakened into song.’

Then the voices of the Ainur, like unto harps and lutes, and pipes and trumpets, and viols and organs, and like unto countless choirs singing with words, began to fashion the theme of Iluvatar to a great music….”

Then of course the lead guitarist stepped in and chopped “…But as the theme progressed, it came into the heart of Melkor to interweave matters of his own imagining that were not in accord with the theme of Iluvatar; for he sought therein to increase the power and glory of the part assigned to himself…”

But the real master musician rolls with it and makes it his own,

“…the discord of Melkor spread ever wider, and the melodies which had been heard before foundered in a sea of turbulent sound. But Iluvatar sat and hearkened until it seemed that about his throne there was a raging storm, as of dark waters that made war one upon another in an endless wrath that would not be assuaged.

Then Iluvatar arose, and the Ainur perceived that he smiled; and he lifted up his left hand, and a new theme began amid the storm, like and yet unlike to the former theme, and it gathered power and had new beauty…”
And the discord renews, is harmonized and transformed and again and “… Iluvatar arose a third time, and his face was terrible to behold. Then he raised up both his hands, and in one chord, deeper than the Abyss, higher than the Firmament, piercing as the light of the eye of Iluvatar, the Music ceased.

Then Iluvatar spoke, and he said: ‘Mighty are the Ainur, and mightiest among them is Melkor; but that he may know, and all the Ainur, that I am Iluvatar, those things that ye have sung, I will show them forth, that ye may see what ye have done. And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.’
“…’Behold your Music!’ And he showed to them a vision, giving to them sight where before was only hearing; and they saw a new World made visible before them, and it was globed amid the Void, and it was sustained therein, but was not of it…’

Ahh... the politics of dancing....

7/03/2010 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To Gagdad re: Brian

Was it the drugs or the complete betrayal? His father sold his rights to all his music. Imagine the cosmic collapse of floating the show only to have your father literally sell you out? That is some intensely deep pain with a whole lot of scarring. I believe the father did this without talking to any of the boys. The few stories I have heard about the father were pretty ugly.

7/03/2010 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"But if you're going to try to play the whole cosmic suite, you'll need to master a few more instruments, not the least of which being theology and metaphysics. To try to play the cosmic suite without metaphysics is like trying to play the symphony without the violin section."

Yep, and that really is what it sounds like isn't it? Empty....

7/03/2010 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Tigtog said ". The few stories I have heard about the father were pretty ugly."

I wonder if he got along well with Michael Jackson's dad? They both did such wonders with their kids.

7/03/2010 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To Van re:

"I wonder if he got along well with Michael Jackson's dad? They both did such wonders with their kids."

Off track, but was discussing how messed up all the kids from the "Spanky and Our Gang" comedy were. Seems Alfalfa was killed in a bar in LA. Folks say he was one mean SOB. You know, exploiting your children and spending all their money could twist a kid.

Thank God I was blessed with a great Father.

7/03/2010 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "Can't find the backing track, but here is the vocal track. Better yet, God Only Knows."

Huh. Who knew Gregorians surfed?

7/03/2010 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Clicking through those acapella Beach Boys tracks... John B. Sloop... something about that song pitches me into silvered mists and memories... mesmerizing - doesn't lose anything with losing the instruments either.


There are some some 'styles' of music, that just catch that whiff... and it's frustrating trying to discuss it because music doesn't translate into words... I can't pass the the 3-D (4-D actually, because there's something corresponding to texture associated with it in here) image of what I'm talking about into the verbal dimension.

But that quality, 'Silvered' is my term for it, is arresting for me, and I can pick it out whole sometimes in a single beat of time, and I know "here's another for the collection". It includes some songs ranging from Beach Boys to Go-Go's to Springsteen and Beethoven and Blink 182.

I've not met anyone else that can hear the commonality to them that I do, and I assume that others also have their internal catalogs which make sense only to them, but to themselves it is very clear what belongs to it, and what doesn't, which finally brings me to my 'point', I sometimes wonder how much of what we hear as music comes from the aural music, and how much from the interior resonance?

7/03/2010 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It depends on a variety of factors, some of which are undoubtedly subjective. But what intrigues me is those songs that one never gets bored of. It must be because they manage to touch eternity. And it's not so much about the composition as the performance.

7/03/2010 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

The "Many Moods of Murry Wilson". Apt titled album for Brian's dad. Seems Brian's dad had been in music during the 30s and 40s. Lost his eye in a tire factory. Evidently had a pretty hard upbringing himself. When family moved to LA they lived in a tent on the beach.

Brian's quote: "He was the one who got us going. He didn't make us better artists or musicians, but he gave us ambition. I'm pleased he pushed us, because it was such a relief to know there was someone as strong as my dad to keep things going. He used to spank us, and it hurt too, but I loved him because he was a great musician."

Murry died in 73 of a heart attack at 55. Hardscrabble sometimes mean sharp edges.

7/03/2010 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It happened to me just the other night. I was listening to a Van Morrison collection, and Gloria came on. It occurred to me that I never tire of that song, despite the fact that I've heard it a million times, and it only has three chords. But something about the performance is just perfect. Another example of garage rock heaven.

7/03/2010 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "But what intrigues me is those songs that one never gets bored of. It must be because they manage to touch eternity. And it's not so much about the composition as the performance. "

Funny you should mention that, cause I'm in the midst of my 3rd playback of John B with music (3 or 4 acapella).

Just Yes. Or perhaps I should say Yes! and Yes?

7/03/2010 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To Gagdad re: G L O R I A

One the first songs every garage band learns. That and Louie Louie. Three chords makes a difference. Three chord songs and three piece bands, is it a coincidence or a clue?

7/03/2010 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I like the backing track of Sloop John B even better. It's one of the demo tracks I use on my stereo to blow people away, and show them the difference between mass market and high end stereo.

7/03/2010 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

This is interesting: outtakes of Brian producing the actual session. You can see how clear his vision was.

7/03/2010 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Also Wouldn't It Be Nice.

7/03/2010 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Speaking of surf music, I'll bet Jack would love the guitar tone in this cult favorite. Must be heard on the big hifi to truly capture its majesty.

7/03/2010 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Sal said...

This is my Father's world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees,
of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.

Something we used to sing in grade school. Loved the idea of the planets, stars, what have you, each having their own musical note, humming along as they transversed the cosmos.
It made perfect sense, even in the midst of the space race and the demythification of it all.

Oh- and thank you for "PAY ATTENTION, MORON...". It completely captures my quarrel with Chesterton: "Yes, I get it. Now stop smacking me about the head with quotables!"

wv: sperm

7/03/2010 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Sal, that is close to the tip-top of my hymn favorites. If any song expresses "comfort and joy," that one does.

"In my opinion, we are attracted to music for the reason that it imparts real knowledge of reality."


"Indeed, you could even say that we love music because we are music. Zuckerkandl comes close to saying this when he writes that

"The knowledge of space that hand and eye possess is exactly matched by their ignorance of time.... A true image of time must be an image for the ear, an audible image, an image made of tones.... Thanks to music, we are able to behold time."

Another insight I'd never have had apart from here. I believe you've quoted this before, but it's got me just as wonder-struck on the repeat.

7/03/2010 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Let's face it: music is only even possible in an imponderably specific type of cosmos!

7/03/2010 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Mikal said...

Murry Wilson meets Joe Jackson!

7/03/2010 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Mikal said...

And speaking of Divine Music...

7/03/2010 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Classic! Murry was a total jackass. I can't believe that someone actually took the time to put that together.

7/03/2010 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Brian at his low point: I'm Bugged at My Old Man.

7/03/2010 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "I like the backing track of Sloop John B even better. "

Back from mowing the lawn (Ricky, really? Are you ever going to show up and take of this for me? Sheesh), listening to the production process....

Never fails, about three seconds into the song... a swelling rises up and out of the chest, chokes in the throat... often a surge of undefined emotion... it'll swamp me if I don't grab on.

I get a quesiton often, "Why don't you play anymore? Why not hook up with a weekend band?" I've got a few pat answers for the pat question.

They assume I've left music... nah, I refuse to leave music. I had it full and living and infused into every part of my life for a decade, to drag it out as a lark, a hobby to be humored on weekends... Nope. I've still got it whole, I don't need to sever a transparent slice to display and prove it.

Ok... too much info.

Sloop John B......

Three piece bands, three chord songs, three part harmonies... Ricky, it's calling....

7/03/2010 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Mikal - The Russian vespers are interesting. There's an uneven dancy quality to the rhythm, and the bells are like an artifact of motion; gives a mental picture of a processional where the priests are almost skipping down the aisle. Cool.

7/03/2010 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Re. "Bugged...," damn. That's just pathetic. It sounds like something out of Popeye, the musical.

7/03/2010 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Reminds of the kind of song Brak might do.

7/03/2010 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger Mikal said...

julie: Although the piece is Russian Orthodox, the chanters on the track are Belgian Roman Catholic monks. Very pre-1054, if you ask me.

7/03/2010 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I could never bring myself to watch the Brak show; the "music" was a big part of the reason.

7/03/2010 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Re: The Lonely Surfer. That is some serious guitar. Sub-Baritone into Six-string Bass territory. *Very* evocative, oddly enough.

7/03/2010 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...


Yes, I had to google. Pop-culture-deficient here. :)

7/03/2010 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I like how the violins hold that one note against the guitar for like 12 measures in the beginning...

7/03/2010 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Speaking of performances that never get old, this song abouttwo Irish guys beating the tar out of military recruiters never fails to amuse and entertain me. I could watch it a million times over and never get tired of it. Something about his little ironical smile at the end just gets me.

7/03/2010 04:38:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

There also seems to be a rhythm guitar holding down one chord somewhat in the background (at least for that first section)...that coupled with the sustained pedal tone of the strings gives it an almost dronal quality...which I like.

I believe that Coltrane's tune "Africa" off of "Africa/Brass" is a one-chord tune. One of my favs...I think Dolphy did the arrangement on that if memory serves.

7/03/2010 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Speaking of a low-pitched instrument over a drone...this is one of my absolutefavorites.

7/03/2010 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Have you ever heard Remember Shakti, the world-jazz group with John McLaughlin on guitar with traditional Indian musicians?

Speaking of which, this is one of my best recent acquisitions: Codona. Don Cherry on trumpet, Colin Walcott on sitar, and Nana Vasconcelos on everything else. You wouldn't think that it would work, but it does. It sounds like nothing else I've ever heard.

7/03/2010 05:24:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Remember Shakti on YouTube.

7/03/2010 05:32:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Yes, I have heard Shakti...though I must admit to some ambivalence towards the sheer overwhelming virtuosity of the group. I once saw Zakir Hussein live...holey moley! The guy was a one-man orchestra on the tablas. Truly staggering world-class musician. The same goes for John McLaughlin.

I think I am drawn more to what could be called "the virtuosity of the slow".

The Codona disc looks highly intriguing. One of the things I am curious about is musical integration of various traditions rather than a "fusion".

There is so much music available and for such a relatively short period of human might take a good while to absorb and integrate so much. But worth finding out...

And I'm not talking about some unified global music or some such me American music is based on the blue note, amongst other things, and that probably won't change anytime soon. But the American musical experiment is like our national "charter" so to speak...E pluribus Unum.

7/03/2010 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Spend a few moments staring into the Vortex of O.

7/03/2010 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Jack: You remind me of drummer Jon Christensen's four rules:

1. Band feeling is more important than bravura.
2. Less is more.
3. How fast can you play slower?
4. A beat is not always what you think it is.

7/03/2010 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Here's some slow & lazy blues guitar.

7/03/2010 05:58:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Oh yeah. Tip On In. Contender for Raccoon anthem.

7/03/2010 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...


I believe you shared those rules a while back and I love them. I passed them along to the improv group I am in and they loved it as well. Yes, I wholeheartedly agree with these rules! I think I will pass them along again.

7/03/2010 06:06:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

And I think you are right on the lack of really good books on Music. It's as if one can find a great page or two in each book and start to piece it together.

Maybe it's just the nature of music...if it could be spoken about we wouldn't *need* music. Still it's quite frustrating...because when I do find something that resonates it helps me immensely.

Have you read "The Mysticism of Sound and Music"? by Inayat Khan The Free Jazz crowd...including Don Cherry, I believe, found it a great inspiration. Guitarist Lenny Breau supposedly carried it in his guitar case.

7/03/2010 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

My first date with Mrs. G. was at a Big Joe Turner concert at a small club in Santa Monica in 1984. He sounded exactly the same.

7/03/2010 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Jack -- yes, I saw that book, but it wasn't helpful to me, although I can't remember why. I have no idea whether it would be helpful to someone else.

7/03/2010 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Just read the first paragraph, and I remembered why. Too subjective.

7/03/2010 06:21:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

It's a series of lectures and so it is VERY repetitive...I haven't read it in a while, but I think it served as a tipping point from music my being semi-aware of music as a connection to O and consciously knowing it could be. Maybe it's not much more than that, but for me it came at the right time.

But most of the books connecting Music and the Spiritual Path I've seen or read have been in the New Age--"new paradigm" even somewhat lefty perspective.

Honestly is writing a book on the Cosmic nature of music even possible? I sometimes have to wonder...

7/03/2010 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

wow...My name is Jack, I am a musician and I can't type!

"it served as a tipping point from being half-aware that music is a connection/expression of O to *knowing* it could be"

or something like that! jeez! Where's my guitar!??!

7/03/2010 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Check out Beethoven: His Spiritual Development. Not perfect, but much deeper than most.

7/03/2010 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

I have read that!! And actually the first few chapters really did seem to capture it far better than most books. I remember getting a bit bored as the book went on...and it's a short book! But overall it was a great book! Sort of expressing what I "knew" in some half-formed sense but didn't have the words for--and taking me steps beyond that. Is that too much to ask!?

Still it would take a rare individual to have the necessary musical knowledge as well as the philosophical/spiritual knowledge AND the ability to express it clearly to musicians and non-musicians alike.

7/03/2010 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

There's this one--which is a history of how music got *disconnected* from the cosmos. I found it a good read. Not brilliant, but good.

7/03/2010 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, I think I checked that one out as well. One I really liked at the time was Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy, although I have no idea if my present Bob could still vouch for it.

7/03/2010 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

To be honest, I find Schuon's writings on art to be the most useful, even though he didn't talk that much about music. His wife compiled a book of all his writings on art, and it probably wouldn't be too difficult to apply them to music.

7/03/2010 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

I've bought it twice and made it halfway through it each time. Does that add up to ONE time through?

7/03/2010 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

I am talking about Music, ecstasy and the brain in that last comment.

7/03/2010 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

I wonder if part of the difficulty with music is that it's harmonies can't really be seen as such...only the impact of it's proportions. Painting, dance, architecture can be seen and measured. But hearing is an interesting way to take in proportion. (Personally, I think it's the best way). It's hard to convey to most non-musicians what exactly makes music so powerful. It usually devolves into "there's no accounting for taste/it's all subjecive" i.e. to make the claim that music is O-bjective--that it is an, or THE, expression of the cosmos, is a hard one for many to grasp.

7/03/2010 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger Dianne said...

About George Harrison and the "My Sweet Lord" song - he's actually singing about Hari Krishna and Vishnu (Hindu)- not Jesus or the Judeo-Christian God.

I know a lot of people believe that there are multiple paths to heaven, but after getting a look at islam and the birth of a couple of new religions - scientology and kwanzaa, for example - that have nothing to do with God, but all about the agrandizement of a certain group of people, while still using relgious buzzwords, I'm a little gun shy about "prophets" and "gurus."

At one time, the Beatles loved to hang out in Kashmir, India with a Hindu guru.

As for rock spiritual songs, I like "Spirit in the Sky."

7/04/2010 05:18:00 AM  
Blogger Dianne said...

You guys all have a wonderful 4th of July!!!

7/04/2010 05:30:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

He's really just praising various aspects of the one God, e.g., Vishnu, Brahma, Parabrahma. Krishna and Rama are just mythic avatars of Vishnu. No need to get hung up on the words. All of these ideas have Christian correlates, so it's all good.

7/04/2010 06:25:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Read the arkive a bit and you'll discover that there is no serious discord between Hinduism and Christianity. Just as there is no serious discord between atheism and Islam.

7/04/2010 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

With the exception of Sufism, I guess. However I don't know enough about Sufism to comment. All I know is they are less prone to blow up schools (though as per last week, frequently on the receiving end).

Do Sufis ban music?

7/04/2010 06:32:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

I suppose we all remember moments when we were musically transported -- when we experienced ecstasy (ex-stasis). When I was really young I listened to Beatles For Sale about 900 times in a row, however I don't recall true ecstasy until I was in my early teens and first heard Mozart's piano concertos 21 & 23 (both had passages that physically affected me to the point where I trembled).

Happy Independence Day!

7/04/2010 06:38:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

No they don't. To the contrary, they're the whirling dervishes. And Rumi, of course, enjoyed his grog.

I wouldn't say there are no contradictions between Hinduism and Christianity, partly because the former is so diverse that it defies definition. Vedanta, however, is closer, especially to a certain line that runs through Denys on up to Eckhart. One of my favorite guys is Henri LaSaux/Abhishiktananda, who tried to reconcile the two in his own person.

7/04/2010 06:42:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

In fact, I believe Gurdjieff took elements from both Sufism and Orthodox Christianity.

7/04/2010 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Not that that's a good thing to do, only to say that Sufism proves that it is possible to be Muslim and not be a just a demon-worshipping a-hole.

7/04/2010 06:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I was also surprised to discover that there is actually an ancient Orthodox Indian church that traces its lineage all the way back to Thomas the apostle in the first century, and which probably incorporates some local cultural elements at the periphery, as do all Orthodox communities, e.g., Greek, Syrian, Russian, et al.

7/04/2010 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

one thing we know re Brian W: he is a [In My Room] Cancer! so happy birthday----Hemingway, Proust, Thoreau, too.
I happen to like/play most,
of all B.Boys albums: LOVE YOU , w/ Brian at his genius-infantile nuttiest, the music cheesy synthy perfect anyway, Cali growing-up & romance a theme...

didja know J.W.N. Sullivan was also a major follower of Aleister Crowley? he was...for a time

7/04/2010 07:16:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

New priest today. Our previous priest was from India, the new one from Central America somewhere. Not many men in our culture prepared to fully give themselves to God in that way. Not that it matters ultimately -- our foreign priests have been just as effective as any Westerners I've met. I could be way off base on this, but I sense that there are far fewer homosexual predators infiltrating the Church in non-Western nations.

Another 2 weeks before our baby becomes the littlest Catholic in town.

7/04/2010 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger Dianne said...

Well, in any case, it doesn't seem to have helped Sir Paul much. He still appears to be as clueless as ever.

7/04/2010 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Wrong Beatle. This is George.

7/04/2010 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Who, by the way, wrote many lovely spiritual songs such as Awaiting On You All, which includes the lyric

You don't need no passport
And you dont need no visas
You dont need to designate or to emigrate
Before you can see Jesus
If you open up your heart
You'll see he's right there
Always was and will be
He'll relieve you of your cares

7/04/2010 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Dianne said...

OK - probably George Harrison. I looked at the video, but it's hard to tell what he's saying. And I trust you, so....

I stand corrected. Still, Harrison is not singing about Vishnu in that one.

Which reminds me of another example of someone who was a lefty, but seems to have matured in the right direction - Bob Dylan.

7/04/2010 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, Dylan left the left behind long ago, but then in 2008 made a brief statement that could be construed as supporting Obama, so he might be senile.

7/04/2010 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Dianne said...

That's disappointing to hear about Dylan. Just, you always root for someone who seems to blast through the bullshit barrier.

7/04/2010 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

I'm not as much into the eastern/western fusion thing, either. I don't claim to have deep understanding of Hinduism, but from what I gathered it does seem fundamentally different from Christianity.

7/04/2010 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Dylan actually read BO's autobio

7/04/2010 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

One of Dylan's sons was involved in the campaign, so I think that's how he caught the infection.

7/04/2010 03:26:00 PM  

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