"I have found in every word a certain musical value, a melody in every thought, harmony in every feeling, and I have tried to interpret the same things with clear and simple words to those who used to listen to my music." Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Mysticism of Sound and Music
In the beginning, there was sound, and not only sound - a sound. What was that sound? Was it the sound of one hand clapping? OM? The percussive bang of everything exploding into existence? It was the sound of all sound, the sound from where all originates, the intonation of creation.
In traditional music around the world, percussion precedes music, or more accurately, melody. Percussion is the first sound. From the clacking of bones to the taut skin of the drum, the percussive rhythm announces the beginning of music, and thus art, language and community.
What is the origin of language? Seekers for the origin of language are mystified and further entrenched in mystery by searching through the very device they seek to derive from its source. It is obvious that language originated as sound. It would be only logical to presume that language was derived of music, rhythm and song.
Does music influence language, or more intently, the way we speak and what we say? If music is a prime suspect in the origination of language, then it would not only influence the way we speak and what we say - music will cause us to speak. Yet, speech caused directly by music uses the language of poetry, lament, cries of ecstasy and deep reflection.
Speech caused by music is also self-reflective, sympathetic to the transformative creativity within the subjective life. Imagine, the first sound of the universe - a cry - reverberating throughout time and creation as a lament for the ultimate truth - that beginning ends.
In narrative, beginnings are almost always preceded by an end, giving rise to the potential for beginning anew. Music is a constant affirmation of the cyclic nature of ending and beginning, as sound falls and rises, always with the shadow of silence before, after and throughout. Indeed, great music is often a testament to the musician's play with silence.
Silence teaches of right listening. Music is the result of right listening. Music teaches of right speech. Knowledge is the result of right speech. Knowledge teaches of right action. Enlightenment is the result of right action. Enlightenment teaches of right listening. Silence teaches of right listening.
In the film, The Way of the Heart, Hazrat Inayat Khan's wisdom is conveyed through his prophecies of music as becoming the future religion of humanity. Inayat Khan taught how all religious and social disputes are founded in the inconsistencies and ambiguities within verbal language. Yet, in music, where profound meaning is clear and immediate, ideas and beliefs are expressed without conflict.
When speaking is united to the knowledge of music, the silence of listening births a voice of the path.
Listen to more Dreams of Sufi Music: Mercan Dede
Dream of Shams, Dream of Perhan, Dream of Lover
Created immediately before a Lantern Memorial remembrance for the victims of the bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, the track features a poem published with the University of Texas, El Paso, entitled, "Lugubrious Background Nearing an Electro-Magnetic Haze". The piece, transformed into narrative sound art through the trajectory of experimental music, is essentially about the explosive omnipresence of America juxtaposed with its remoteness. The marginal landscapes of America are the birthplace for one of the the world's greatest questions: atomic energy. The poem, "Lugubrious Background..." begins in the traditional lands of the American Southwest, with its rich history of Original Peoples. That history becomes estranged into small-town marginality by the overwhelming shadow of a towering American presence. Leading finally to the sounds of New York, the sirens of immigration and post-colonial history remove the people further from the true and original history of the land, until, finally, the inside becomes outside, and the electrified modernization of progress displaces connectivity in nature with a sheen of bright lights. The outside has transformed to the inside, and without a way out, people are terminally trapped by misperception and ignorance.
The musical instrumentation on the track, "Lugubrious Background" speaks to another contemporaneous event, namely the 400th year anniversary of the first treaty between Europeans and Native Americans. On the same day as people remembered the bombing of Nagasaki, canoes waded down Hudson River to New York City to meet delegates of the UN to not only celebrate World Indigenous Day, but to remember the beginning of a formal international relationship between Native Americans and European settlers, begun by the Iroquois Confederacy and the Dutch Kingdom. So, the instrumentation on this track, a frame drum (bodhran) and a xaphoon (bamboo sax) speaks to a renewed history of American tradition. The modern frame drumming techniques of North America have spawned an entirely new way of hearing and playing the frame drum. Although using a bodhran, the frame drum is a universal instrument known throughout the Original Traditions of Native Americans across Turtle Island. Similarly, the xaphoon is likened to a refreshed jazz tradition, wherefrom Hawaii a new saxophone was invented only thirty years ago. The sound of the fame drum with a bamboo sax conjures American sentiments from the historical age beyond the contemporary into the imagination of a future where co-existence revives cultural tradition.
The title of the following chapbook, "Truth our Up-Pressing" is a call to evince our oppressive actions, and speak our truth in a humble way. Either through poetry or prose, the human voice is a powerful agent of active creativity in the spirit of life, survival and freedom. "Truth" is here used as a verb, a kind of call to transform our forms of oppression that we often feel entitled to uphold in the name of family honour, and to dismiss that, and in turn, change our language. Therefore, I use "Up-Pressing" instead of "Oppressing" to say go from seeing our oppression as being a burden on others to seeing our oppression as a burden on ourselves. The oppressed oppresses, the oppressive are oppressed. In truth, all are both oppressor and oppressed, and until each and every last human being realizes this, there is no freedom for anyone.