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Book Commentary/Review – World Music: A Global Journey, Part V December 6, 2012

Posted by rwf1954 in Andrew Shahriari, Arab, book review, books, Egypt, ethnomusicology, Iran, Islam, Judaism, Middle East, music, Persia, Sufism, Terry E. Miller, world music.
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I indicated that my final blog post on this subject would be about Leonard Bernstein’s The Unanswered Question, a discussion of tonality and the nature of music. We will get there, but after a ten-part detour into commentaries on the book World Music: A Global Journey by Terry E. Miller and Andrew Shahriari. This is a logical detour after absorbing Bruno Nettl’s information about ethnomusicology. I will do individual blog posts about each of the areas covered in the book, focusing mainly on the musical examples provided. I will first comment on general observations about the area and the selections provided. I will then post specific notes on each individual selection. These comments are not intended in any way to be definitive exhaustive examinations of the types of music discussed. They are just my comments on the musical examples provided in the context of my discussion of music, physics and metaphysics. (Also, this study will contribute to the new music I am in the process of creating, an effort to meld many international styles together. This is not some politically correct effort to create a global music for humanity. It is simply my fascination, as a composer/music creator, with all the different sorts of musical approaches available to humans. Technology allows me to explore this fascination and create based on it.)

Previous posts from World Music: A Global Journey:
Book Commentary/Review – World Music: A Global Journey, Part I
Book Commentary/Review – World Music: A Global Journey, Part II
Book Commentary/Review – World Music: A Global Journey, Part III
Book Commentary/Review – World Music: A Global Journey, Part IV

PART FIVE
The Middle East: Islam and the Arab World, Iran, Egypt, Sufism, Judaism

General Comments: In my previous post on Indian/Pakistani music, I commented that the music was based on modes and scales, as opposed to melodic and chordal harmonic ideas. The same is true of this music. We know from history that Indian culture interacted with Middle Eastern culture. So-called “Arabic numbers” actually started in India and came to Muslim Arabia from points east. So is difficult to know if the modal nature of Arabic and Persian music evolved separately or evolved cross-culturally. But there are distinct similarities. Of course, experts in Indian and Persian music would be able to point to many differences between their approaches. I know from my experience listening outside of this book that Indian music and Persian music are very different from each other, and are varied within their own styles. But the focus on modes and scales are shared between these regions—that is undeniable. Is this an indication that the use of modes and scales is some sort of universal musical constant?

CD 2, Track 6 from World Music: A Global Journey
Islam: “Call to Prayer”
For a religion that is supposed to be hostile to music, this is a heartfelt solo voice, chanting up and down on what seems to be mainly the first four notes of a major scale. There is a tone of spiritual depth and emotion behind this. My excursions into an international sound are planned to be instrumental, so I won’t be able to tap directly into this. But I will keep in mind the huge musical/spiritual connection in this Muslim “Call to Prayer,”—a call to interact with the Divine, summoned by simple, heartfelt music. To me, the poignancy of this music and its apparent spiritual nature for a religion that is generally considered hostile to music argues for music as a bridge to the Divine, whatever that is.

CD 2, Track 7 from World Music: A Global Journey
Arabic Taqasim Improvisation for Ud and Buzuq
This is a non-rhythmic run up and down what seems to be, by my ears, two exotic modes a perfect fourth apart. Cadences imply the second mode, but the tonality never stays there long. We have a flat second and a flat third in the main mode, so this seems to be Phrygian-like. We have a lute/guitar sound and a metallic string sound, different but close, trading lines.

CD 2, Track 8 from World Music: A Global Journey
Iran: Dastgah for Santur and Voice
The santur is a “hammered” zither. The voice is a female voice that seems to trade time with the santur. I hear a Phrygian mode, particularly in the voice, which starts on 1, drops to flat 7 then up to flat 3, moving down to the flat 2 and the 1. (Or are they starting out focusing on the 5, and I am hearing flat 7 to flat 6 to 5? Or is it neither, and I am cramming this into a “Western” context?”) The santur sounds “out of tune” at times. I suspect this is by design—quarter-tone tunings for the Persian modes. I still hear this music in the context of a twelve tone chromatic scale. Is this my conditioned “Western” ears? Maybe. But the vocalist seems to sing pure intervals, without discernible quarter tones. I still think the human ear detects only so many scale tones, and seven (eight to an octave) may be a universal human limit. I am not going to attribute this to “Western” ears right now. But, I will admit, even if the evidence points toward quarter tones as a viable musical expression in some cultures, I cannot get there. Whether this is due to “Western” ears, or human ears, that is where my own musical vision remains. I have recently listened to other santur music. Again, clearly the santur was tuned to quarter tones. My sensation of music, developed over nearly sixty years of life, does not allow me to experience these as much more than out of tune twelve tone notes. It may be that people growing up in the Persian culture can distinguish quarter-tones. I will say that I found the other santur music I listened to also focused around the manipulation of scales with the quarter tones. I found the rhythm and inventiveness of the handling of the exotic modes to be musically compelling and worthy of consideration for inclusion in my own efforts.

CD 2, Track 9 from World Music: A Global Journey
Egypt: Takht Instrumental Ensemble
We have a really enchanting, exotic ensemble here consisting of a plucked lute, bowed lute, flute, plucked zither and drum. They play the main melody in rhythm in a G harmonic minor, complete with flat 6 and natural 7. The five is definitely used as dominant throughout piece. The listening guide of World Music: A Global Journey indicates their flat 3 is flatter than the “Western” equal temperament flat 3, but I can’t say my ears detected a difference—it sounds like a normal flat 3 to me. This is one of my favorite selections on this musical tour. I’ve played with ideas like this in “Eastern Boogie” from “Issa Music” (and I will play with these ideas more). The musicians do not focus on a harmonic, chordal basis for the melodic lines. That is something I will add in my own musical vision (and did add in “Eastern Boogie”). Otherwise, this is almost like a jazz combo trading solos!

CD 2, Track 10 from World Music: A Global Journey
Turkey: Sufi Dhikr Ceremony
This is mainly a chorus with a flute following the melody and a few background instruments. It is a joyous major key melodic line, with syncopations to give the line rhythmic drive and emotion.

CD 2, Track 11 from World Music: A Global Journey
Judaism: Jewish Shofar and Liturgical Cantillation
We hear a horn setting the tonality with a tonic-dominant fanfare call. The vocal chants in what is an exotic mode with a flat 2 in it. He dwells on the 5 a lot, coming to 1 only infrequently, and of course at the end. This is another one of these flat second/major third scales (frequent in selections from this region). I wonder if the Jewish and Muslim practitioners of this music know how close in style and spirit the “Call to Prayer” and this cantor’s chant are!

Personal Compositional Note: There is no question that I will be using the mode of 1, flat 2, 3, 4, 5, flat 6, 7 and 1/8(octave). This mode offers beautiful sounding harmonies and melodies that will be fresh but not too outlandish to Western ears, and hopefully familiar to Eastern ears. I’ve identified books discussing Arabic and Persian scales/modes. There may be significant numbers of scales. I’m not sure if this is because we’re talking about scales with quarter tones, which I do not see myself employing in my own work. So I’m not sure how far I will go personally into the modal nature of this music. But I have been listening to Arabic and Persian music with the idea that I might pick up some more interesting scales and modes to apply to my own musical vision. Of course, there are exotic timbres from this music that can be incorporated because of the technology now available. I expect to be juxtaposing traditional Arabic and Persian sounds with other sounds from around the world and from different points in time.

The next post will move to Europe.

Previous posts on this topic:

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks

This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin

Music, the Brain and Ecstasy by Robert Jourdain

Music and the Mind by Anthony Storr

Good Vibrations/The Physics of Music by Barry Parker

Measured Tones by Ian Johnston

Exploring Music by Charles Taylor

Music and Mathematics: From Pythagoras to Fractals, edited by John Fauvel, Raymond Flood and Robin Wilson

Harmonies of Heaven and Earth: From Antiquity to the Avant-Garde by Joscelyn Godwin

The Study of Ethnomusicology by Bruno Nettl

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Book Commentary/Review – World Music: A Global Journey, Part IV December 4, 2012

Posted by rwf1954 in Andrew Shahriari, book review, books, ethnomusicology, India, music, Pakistan, raga, South Asia, Terry E. Miller, world music.
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I indicated that my final blog post on this subject would be about Leonard Bernstein’s The Unanswered Question, a discussion of tonality and the nature of music. We will get there, but after a ten-part detour into commentaries on the book World Music: A Global Journey by Terry E. Miller and Andrew Shahriari. This is a logical detour after absorbing Bruno Nettl’s information about ethnomusicology. I will do individual blog posts about each of the areas covered in the book, focusing mainly on the musical examples provided. I will first comment on general observations about the area and the selections provided. I will then post specific notes on each individual selection. These comments are not intended in any way to be definitive exhaustive examinations of the types of music discussed. They are just my comments on the musical examples provided in the context of my discussion of music, physics and metaphysics. (Also, this study will contribute to the new music I am in the process of creating, an effort to meld many international styles together. This is not some politically correct effort to create a global music for humanity. It is simply my fascination, as a composer/music creator, with all the different sorts of musical approaches available to humans. Technology allows me to explore this fascination and create based on it.)

Previous posts from World Music: A Global Journey:
Book Commentary/Review – World Music: A Global Journey, Part I
Book Commentary/Review – World Music: A Global Journey, Part II
Book Commentary/Review – World Music: A Global Journey, Part III

PART FOUR
South Asia: India, Pakistan

General Comments: This music is largely built on scales/modes, not chord progressions. Artists appear to be expert at working over the scales, exploring all sorts of possibilities through improvisation, building lines from the characteristics of the scales. Rhythms follow motives and melodic lines. There were a few indications of standard “Western” rhythms following the melodic line whether sung or played. The Sufi devotional song broke into a clear 2/4 triplet (or 6/8) rhythm, a catchy rhythm with the accent on the second beat of the three, giving it a fun, syncopated feel.

CD 1, Track 5 from World Music: A Global Journey
India: Hindustani (Instrumental) Raga
This piece is based on an exotic mode played by plucked lute over droning strings. The scale is basically a major scale, but with a flat 6th. There is a pulse to the music, but there is not an immediately evident conventional “Western” time-signature. The notes of the scale of the passage are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, flat 6, 7, 1/8(octave). The flat 6th gives the mode an exotic flavor and when the music hovers around the flat 6th and perfect 5th, with the augmented second coming up from the flat 6th to the 7th, the music feels like it is revolving around a minor key. But when the improvisations slip back to the lower five tones of the scale, a major key feel is evident.

CD 1, Track 6 from World Music: A Global Journey
India: Carnatic Classical (Vocal) Kriti
This vocal piece has a clear tonal center set by an instrumental drone. It is in a simple major pentatonic mode. There is no chord progression. The singer moves up and down the pentatonic scale with precision, with florid, expert turns, totally accurate within the scale.

CD 1, Track 7 from World Music: A Global Journey
India: Hindu Bhajan Devotional Song
In this piece, we have a soloist followed by a chorus singing. Again, we have simple melodic moves in a pentatonic major scale. Melodic lines start at the fifth and the tonic, and cadence at the fifth and the tonic. At the end of the piece, it sounds like the singer left the pentatonic scale, though it wasn’t clear whether this was a vocal error, or a real deviation from the scale.  There’s a clear rhythm set by the phrases of a vocal line, but no consistently fixed time-signature.

CD 1, Track 8 from World Music: A Global Journey
Pakistan: Qawwali (Sufi Devotional Song)
A harmonium drone sets the tonality and also follows the vocal line in this piece, playing every note of the standard major scale. There are clear tonal centers, but they appear to shift during the piece. The scale for the melody is largely pentatonic, though it is not a strict pentatonic scale. The music goes back and forth from a free rhythm to a clear rhythm. There is a fun rhythmic section in a 2/4 triplet (or 6/8) rhythm, a driving rhythm with the accent on the second beat of the triplet.

Personal Compositional Note: “Western” scales are not the only scales available.  I personally enjoy playing with exotic skips in a scale, dwelling on them, exploring their melodic and harmonic possibilities inside/out, upside/down, backwards/forwards. I’ll definitely be playing with the mode mentioned above as well as other modes derived from similar changes in standard scales or modes. Also, a three rhythm does not have to be a “Western” waltz. That three rhythm in the Sufi devotional song may well show up in future music of my own.

The next post will move to the Middle East.

Previous posts on this topic:

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks

This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin

Music, the Brain and Ecstasy by Robert Jourdain

Music and the Mind by Anthony Storr

Good Vibrations/The Physics of Music by Barry Parker

Measured Tones by Ian Johnston

Exploring Music by Charles Taylor

Music and Mathematics: From Pythagoras to Fractals, edited by John Fauvel, Raymond Flood and Robin Wilson

Harmonies of Heaven and Earth: From Antiquity to the Avant-Garde by Joscelyn Godwin

The Study of Ethnomusicology by Bruno Nettl

Issa Music – Featured Selection: (12) “East Meets West” December 1, 2012

Posted by rwf1954 in fusion jazz, Issa, Issa Legend, jazz, Jesus in India, music, mystic jazz, new age jazz, Saint Issa legend.
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  • (Each month, I will feature a detailed description of one of the thirteen selections from my CD “Issa Music” with a link to the full piece. That link will remain up for one month. After that, the link at this post will be to a one minute clip. One minute clips of all the Issa Pieces are available at my website. Detailed notes on all the pieces are also available there. The full length pieces available with these blog posts are before mastering for CD release. The complete Issa Music CD is available for sale, along with downloads of individual mastered selections.)
  • (“Issa Music” is an East-meets-West mystic jazz CD released inspired by the “Legend of Issa.” Did Jesus journey to India and study Buddhism and Hinduism before his world-changing spiritual mission in Roman-occupied Judea? If so, are West and East spiritually connected in ways we have never imagined? “Issa Music” celebrates this idea with a blend of eastern and western modes and timbres.)

Play this month’s selection: “East Meets West”

Background on “East Meets West”: This was the ninth and final “Issa Music” piece of the first set, completed in late 1988. The title explains what I was trying to do here—to depict a contrast musically, a collision as “East Meets West.” “West” is first—a powerful brute force wall of sound starts it off. Exploding gongs, a big pipe organ, joined by a choir, arpeggiating strings and eventually synth brasses, state these block chords that form a simple melodic line, fanfares eventually sounding above. It sounds like triumph, like overpowering triumph and strength. This is followed by the “East” answer. It’s the same chord progression, even the same melodies, now stated over an unassuming rhythm, less assertive, more complex, more subtle. A strange trumpet line joins the second half of this section as if trying to fit into the “East” idea, but not totally comfortable. Section One is restated a second time, just to remind us of that brute power again. But we end with the “East” statement of the same harmonic idea, as if it will outlast the big power theme of “West.” But the exploding gong at the end asks us—will it?

“Issa Music is Coming” blog post, September 21, 2011.

The story behind Issa Music.

Probable liner notes for the Issa Music CD.

Richard Warren Field music page.

Book Commentary/Review – World Music: A Global Journey, Part III November 28, 2012

Posted by rwf1954 in Andrew Shahriari, book review, books, China, East Asia, ethnomusicology, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, music, Terry E. Miller, Tibet, world music.
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I indicated that my final blog post on this subject would be about Leonard Bernstein’s The Unanswered Question, a discussion of tonality and the nature of music. We will get there, but after a ten-part detour into commentaries on the book World Music: A Global Journey by Terry E. Miller and Andrew Shahriari. This is a logical detour after absorbing Bruno Nettl’s information about ethnomusicology. I will do individual blog posts about each of the areas covered in the book, focusing mainly on the musical examples provided. I will first comment on general observations about the area and the selections provided. I will then post specific notes on each individual selection. These comments are not intended in any way to be definitive exhaustive examinations of the types of music discussed. They are just my comments on the musical examples provided in the context of my discussion of music, physics and metaphysics. (Also, this study will contribute to the new music I am in the process of creating, an effort to meld many international styles together. This is not some politically correct effort to create a global music for humanity. It is simply my fascination, as a composer/music creator, with all the different sorts of musical approaches available to humans. Technology allows me to explore this fascination and create based on it.)

Previous posts from World Music: A Global Journey:
Book Commentary/Review – World Music: A Global Journey, Part I
Book Commentary/Review – World Music: A Global Journey, Part II

PART THREE
East Asia: China, Mongolia, Korea, Japan, Tibet

General Comments: Of course when we think of Oriental music, we think of pentatonic scales. And pentatonic scales are evident through much of this music. The Chinese music selections offer tamer, less exotic pentatonic scales evoking a major key feel. The pentatonic scales offered in the Japanese selections are more exotic because of the positioning of the tonal center in the scale. The standard major key pentatonic scales are found in most cultures. The Japanese scales appear to be unique to their culture, instantly recognizable as Japanese, or at least as “Oriental,” and certainly offer some opportunities for adventurous music creators. In this group, we also have music examples from Mongolia and Tibet. Particularly the Tibetan music seems well outside the mainstream of conventional human music.

CD 1, Track 16 from World Music: A Global Journey
China: Guqin (“Ancient Zither”)
This is described as an “ancient zither.” The selection plays one musical line. It seems mainly pentatonic, but at times it seems to include all seven diatonic notes of a major scale. Occasionally the line is punctuated with a pitch bend. A general comment about pentatonic scales in Oriental music—they can revolve around an implied major or minor key, and can move back and forth. What is often omitted is the seventh of the implied scale. This makes the music less prone to dissonance away from the overtone series. We still do have dissonance of a sort with movement to cadence points, often implied by a perfect fourth down/perfect fifth up from the tonic. Cadence points on 5 are “dissonant” in the sense that they are not at a final musical destination point, a final resting point. But if we are to include this sort of lack of resolution in the definition of dissonance, we would have to consider this to be a soft dissonance. This is something to keep in mind when looking for universal characteristics of music.

CD 1, Track 17 from World Music: A Global Journey
China: Jiangnan Sizhu (“Silk and Bamboo”) Ensemble
An ensemble plays pentatonic lines with no harmonies. Woodwind/flute sounds dominate the tone up an octave from the other sounds. We can hear plucked and bowed strings. Here’s another example of that classic, quintessential pentatonic feel, with some ambiguity as to whether the tonal center is at 1, or at 6 (which then would be a minor 1). There are little clickity-clack percussions sounds that give us a distinct, strict rhythm pattern, duple, 1-and-2 and 1-and-2. The tonality shifts from different scale degrees according to the listening guide in World Music: A Global Journey. The pace picks up at the end, but there is no real change to the basic music.

CD 1, Track 18 from World Music: A Global Journey
China: Beijing Opera (Jingju)
This music starts out with a gaggle of percussion sounds, as if demanding attention. The music seems to be in a minor pentatonic scale. A female vocalist sings very high, not really shrill, but at an unusual vocal range for “Western” ears. The rhythm becomes less structured as if accompanying something more dramatic. Again, the lines are generally pentatonic.

CD 1, Track 19 from World Music: A Global Journey
China: Revolutionary Beijing Opera (Yangbanxi)
This music sounds very “Western.” Chinese instruments join in, but this is almost completely Western in its feel with tremolo string sections and orchestral trumpets front and center. It a less pentatonic piece and more diatonic. There is a strong tonic to dominant feel in the music. The music can be interesting when it melds some pentatonic moves with the conventional “Western” tonal harmonies. But this is clearly an attempt to “Westernize” “Oriental” music, complete with the big IV-V-I cadence at the end of the piece.

CD 2, Track 1 from World Music: A Global Journey
Mongolia: Urtïn duu (Long soing) with köömei (overtone or throat singing)
This music is in a pentatonic minor, 1-flat 3-4-5-flat 7. There are some very strange sounds offered with this music, probably the “overtones singing” referred to in World Music: A Global Journey. There is a simple melodic line with vocal trills. There are no passing tones and the lines stay within the scale pitches. The vocal line is also accompanied with a bowed single string line. The overtone sound is like a high buzzing flute sound, but is difficult to compare to any other conventional instrumental sound.

CD 2, Track 2 from World Music: A Global Journey
Korea: P’ansori Narrative
This music features a vocalist accompanied by a drum. She roughly follows a pentatonic melodic line, but there is such emotion in the performance that a raging vibrato obscures the pitch at times. The drama punctuates the phrasing. The vocalist speaks at times.

CD 2, Track 3 from World Music: A Global Journey
Japan: Sankyoku (Instrumental Chamber Music)
This music is characterized by an exotic sound, basically one line but with the instruments approaching it not quite in unison. The music is played by a shakuhachi, zither and lute. The mode is exotic: 1, flat 2, 4, 5, flat 6 and flat 7. Many pentatonic scales avoid half steps. This mode seems to embrace them. The “Oriental” sound comes from the wooden flute up an octave over the plucked lute-like strings. But those half steps also seem to be quintessentially Oriental/Japanese. There’s a clear duple rhythm to the music, binding the musicians together. They do play in a quarter/eighth triplet rhythms through much of the music.

CD 2, Track 4 from World Music: A Global Journey
Japan: Kabuki Theater
This music features a very similar mode to the previous selection. There are more instruments playing here, including percussion. The vocalist sings the pitches of the mode. The rhythm is again a duple meter, unifying the piece. And again, we have the characteristic high flute sound and lower string sound.

CD 2, Track 5 from World Music: A Global Journey
Tibet: Buddhist Ritual
This music is completely unique. The first sound implies a tonality, but the next tone is a major 7thlower, giving us the real tonality. The first tone is fluttering trumpet sounds that seem to give us an imprecise pitch. Low male voices chant. On this recording, it was hard to pickup the pitches of the chants because the volume was so low. The low brass tones, by virtue of repeating, insist on the actual tonal center of the selection. There are no discernible scales/modes evident for this music.

Personal Compositional Note: Pentatonic scales do offer fuel for composition, for melody and harmony. They can be dull (because of their banal familiarity) but can play supporting roles for other musical adventures. The exception is the Japanese pentatonic scale offered in the Japanese music selections. This could be a fun scale to use to evolve compelling harmonies and melodies, using different sounds than the “Oriental” instruments we normally hear playing this type of music.

The next post will move to South Asia.

Previous posts on this topic:

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks

This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin

Music, the Brain and Ecstasy by Robert Jourdain

Music and the Mind by Anthony Storr

Good Vibrations/The Physics of Music by Barry Parker

Measured Tones by Ian Johnston

Exploring Music by Charles Taylor

Music and Mathematics: From Pythagoras to Fractals, edited by John Fauvel, Raymond Flood and Robin Wilson

Harmonies of Heaven and Earth: From Antiquity to the Avant-Garde by Joscelyn Godwin

The Study of Ethnomusicology by Bruno Nettl

Book Commentary/Review – World Music: A Global Journey, Part II November 25, 2012

Posted by rwf1954 in Andrew Shahriari, Bali, Balinese, book review, books, ethnomusicology, gamelan music, Indonesia, Java, music, Southeast Asia, Terry E. Miller, Thailand, Vietnam, world music.
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I indicated that my final blog post on this subject would be about Leonard Bernstein’s The Unanswered Question, a discussion of tonality and the nature of music. We will get there, but after a ten-part detour into commentaries on the book World Music: A Global Journey by Terry E. Miller and Andrew Shahriari. This is a logical detour after absorbing Bruno Nettl’s information about ethnomusicology. I will do individual blog posts about each of the areas covered in the book, focusing mainly on the musical examples provided. I will first comment on general observations about the area and the selections provided. I will then post specific notes on each individual selection. These comments are not intended in any way to be definitive exhaustive examinations of the types of music discussed. They are just my comments on the musical examples provided in the context of my discussion of music, physics and metaphysics. (Also, this study will contribute to the new music I am in the process of creating, an effort to meld many international styles together. This is not some politically correct effort to create a global music for humanity. It is simply my fascination, as a composer/music creator, with all the different sorts of musical approaches available to humans. Technology allows me to explore this fascination and create based on it.)

Previous posts from World Music: A Global Journey
Book Commentary/Review – World Music: A Global Journey, Part I

PART TWO
Southeast Asia: Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Northeast Thailand, Indonesia (Java and Bali) 

General Comments: I think other cultures can offer “Western” music (my own culture’s music) a lot of ideas when it comes to timbre. We have been steeped in the “Western” symphony orchestra for so long that we have become accustomed to a narrow set of timbres.  Popular music has expanded this; electronics even more. But there is so much more to explore. Pentatonic scales crop up over and over again in most cultures and are evident in a lot of this music. (Let’s face it; pentatonic scales are almost a cliché of what we think of when we hear “Oriental” music, though the scales are everywhere.)  But Gamelan music? Throw out conventional pentatonics for this stuff. It is easy to see why “Western” composers for over a century have been going to this well to expand musical visions.

CD 1, Track 9 from World Music: A Global Journey
Vietnam: Central Highlands Bronze Gong Ensemble
A clanging chorus of metallic instruments with a clear pulse and with a simple melodic motif characterizes this music. It is the sounds and timbres that make this music distinctive. The only scale notes I discerned were the first five notes of the major scale. My ears heard a tonal center but with the emphasis on a cadence from 5 to 4 to 3.

CD 1, Track 10 from World Music: A Global Journey
Vietnam: Nhac Tai Tu Amateur Chamber Music
A number of string instruments, plucked and bowed, move up and down in pentatonic scales, revolving around a clear I and V. The “bowed lute” slides through pitches, though staying with the notes of the scale as primary. Pitch bends are also used on the “plucked lute” and the “plucked zither.” A subtle percussion instrument, a click-sounding instrument, like a finger snap, or a tongue against the roof of the mouth, signals phrases. The rhythm is well-defined, and the notes played by the strings are on and off the beat, giving the music an energetic, syncopated feel.

CD 1, Track 11 from World Music: A Global Journey
Thailand: Classical Piphat Music
Xylophones pound out a steady patter of notes in rhythm while a thin, reedy sound gives us a pentatonic scale line over this setting. The xylophones migrate through clusters based on the scale. I read in World Music: A Global Journey that some of this music is based on the octave subdivided differently than seven tones between the octave. (A major pentatonic scale is formed by the elimination of the 4th and 7th tones of the major scale.) My ears hear a conventional pentatonic scale, with changes in what note of the scale the music revolves around. But the exotic, possibly “out of tune” sound implied in an octave subdivided differently is not evident to me here. This music speeds up as we go, then slows suddenly to a cadence, followed by a short coda. It is not far from the feel of a Scottish or Irish fiddle ditty.

CD 1, Track 12 from World Music: A Global Journey
Thailand: Lam Klawn Repartee Singing
The khaen (a “free-reed aerophone”) sounds like it could be at home playing Cajun music in New Orleans! The khaen gives us a rhythmic and harmonic underpinning, sliding through clusters on a pentatonic scale, moving focus from I to V (but with a very clear I delineated).  The vocalist sings phrases in the scale, with turns, and with the singing almost evolving to spoken word in places.

CD 1, Track 13 from World Music: A Global Journey|
Thailand (Northeast): Luk Thung Popular Song
This is a pop song in a minor key, Thai sounds clearly “Westernized” with a bass and drums rhythm section. Over this are Thai vocal stylings and Thai instruments. It is the bass/drums rhythm section, providing a clear 4/4 time-signature, and a clear i, iv, v chord progression (occasional III adds in) that gives the song its “Western” feel. There is even a cheesy synth- sounding solo at the end.

CD 1, Track 14 from World Music: A Global Journey
Indonesia: Javanese Court Gamelan
Different levels of metallic percussion sounds (maybe a few not metallic) build a basic tonal center, but the center shifts, often ambiguous. We have notes sounding to my “Western” perspective as if they are in a “minor” key. But the bottom notes, slower moving, in the lower pitched metallic instruments, change pitches, sometimes along the flat 6th of that minor tonality, and staying there long enough to cause me to wonder where we are tonally. There are layers of rhythm that give this music its unusual (to “Western” ears) sound. There are certainly melodic ideas to pick out, but not melody and harmony in phrases as we are used to hearing them. And it is the multitude of timbres, correctly described in the book as collectively making a “shimmering” sound that set this music apart.

CD 1, Track 15 from World Music: A Global Journey
Indonesia: Balinese Gamelan Gong Kebyar
This is a quicker paced selection that starts and stops, bringing a frenetic “shimmer” in the upper notes when it is moving. I hear roughly a major scale idea here, with a lot of cadences on the 7th. Pentatonic scales avoid the tritone. Not this piece! There are many melodic moves back and forth from the 4-5-4-5 them to 7, and sitting on 7, that give us that feel.

Personal Compositional Note: I can see many possibilities for the “shimmer” idea presented by this music. Harnessed within harmonic and melodic structures familiar to cross-cultural ears, this music presents a plethora of possibilities. The bell sounds are easily sampled and/or produced on synthesizers and samplers. And the metallic quality of the tones also creates some imprecision when rendering pitches. This is another contributor to the exotic nature of this music. This allows the modern music creator a chance to juxtapose many varied tones in the “shimmer” effects mentioned above. That 4-5-4-5 to 7 move mentioned in the last piece also could lead to something. I do expect to use characteristics of this music in my upcoming new music.

The next post will move to East Asia.

Previous posts on this topic:

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks

This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin

Music, the Brain and Ecstasy by Robert Jourdain

Music and the Mind by Anthony Storr

Good Vibrations/The Physics of Music by Barry Parker

Measured Tones by Ian Johnston

Exploring Music by Charles Taylor

Music and Mathematics: From Pythagoras to Fractals, edited by John Fauvel, Raymond Flood and Robin Wilson

Harmonies of Heaven and Earth: From Antiquity to the Avant-Garde by Joscelyn Godwin

The Study of Ethnomusicology by Bruno Nettl

Book Commentary/Review – World Music: A Global Journey, Part I November 22, 2012

Posted by rwf1954 in aborigine, Andrew Shahriari, Australia, book review, books, ethnomusicology, Hawaii, Kiribati, music, Oceana, Papua New Guinea, Terry E. Miller, world music.
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I indicated that my final blog post on this subject would be about Leonard Bernstein’s The Unanswered Question, a discussion of tonality and the nature of music. We will get there, but after a ten-part detour into commentaries on the book World Music: A Global Journey by Terry E. Miller and Andrew Shahriari. This is a logical detour after absorbing Bruno Nettl’s information about ethnomusicology. I will do individual blog posts about each of the areas covered in the book, focusing mainly on the musical examples provided. I will first comment on general observations about the area and the selections provided. I will then post specific notes on each individual selection. These comments are not intended in any way to be definitive exhaustive examinations of the types of music discussed. They are just my comments on the musical examples provided in the context of my discussion of music, physics and metaphysics. (Also, this study will contribute to the new music I am in the process of creating, an effort to meld many international styles together. This is not some politically correct effort to create a global music for humanity. It is simply my fascination, as a composer/music creator, with all the different sorts of musical approaches available to humans. Technology allows me to explore this fascination and create based on it.)

PART ONE
Oceana: Australia, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, Kiribati

General Comments: This music is simple and basic. The Australian example offers a lone soloist singing over the drone of a didjeridu. The example from New Guinea gives us a mouth harp that plays the same pitch and simply changes tone throughout the piece. The excerpt from Hawaii is of a chorus, but again with a very simple musical concept. The Hawaiian example is reminiscent of the solo and response choral style found in African music. If these evolved separately (and unless the Hawaiian style copied the African style as a result of recent cultural contact, they probably did) this points us toward a potential universal human style of music. The last example from Kiribati centers around a simple scale without a 7th. The lack of complexity in this music allows us to feel as if we may be experiencing music created at the most basic human level. Of course, this can help us toward insights on the potential universal nature of music more than music that has the evolved into complexity and distinctive cultural characteristics. Music at this basic level points us toward a possible musical common denominator.

CD 1, Track 1 from World Music: A Global Journey
Australia: Aboriginal Song with Didjeridu
A lone soloist sings a descending line in a simple scale over the drone of a didjeridu. The line actually starts on the major seven of the tonality. The melodic line gives us a rough outline of a major seven chord starting on the major seven and cadencing on the third of the scale. The didjeridu drone establishes an unambiguous tonal center. Drones seemed to be universal; we are familiar with them in such distantly separated places as Indian sitar music and Scottish bagpipe music, as well as this Australian aborigine music. And, the descending nature of the melodic line, starting high and moving to a cadence point, is reminiscent of American Indian solo vocal chants.

CD 1, Track 2 from World Music: A Global Journey
Papua New Guinea: Susap (lamellophone)
A mouth harp plays on one pitch, changing timbre, in a 2/4 rhythm. (Though the primary music note is one pitch repeated, there is a faint move to the perfect 5th. This is the first non-unison/octave tone in the overtone series and the simplist ratio when bisecting a vibrating string, possibly leading to a conclusion on the universal characteristics of music.) This reminds us that music can be effective based on changing tone and timbre, not just on the melody from a specific mode, or how a pitch relates to harmonies. However, this uni-pitch music does not retain musical interest for very long.

CD 1, Track 3 from World Music: A Global Journey
Hawaii: Mele Hula Pahu (Drum-Dance Chant)
This selection features a female singer over a drumbeat that plays in four, with some variation. The vocal line is two notes moving back and forth over a minor third, with the upper note functioning as the predominant tonal center. The vocal is almost like spoken sentences, chanted on two pitches but with the lower pitch subordinate.

CD 1, Track 4 from World Music: A Global Journey
Kiribati: Group Song for bino (sitting dance)
A chorus starts out singing in unison with no harmonies in what seems to be a pentatonic scale.  As the piece proceeds, some simple harmonies evolve. Clapping provides the rhythm, and the claps tend to be on the downbeat, in quarter notes, with occasional eighth notes. The pentatonic scale eventually appears to center around a major scale, as there is a perfect fourth the added to the scale. So the scale is actually a major scale minus the seventh. This gives us a strong sense of a major key, a diatonic feel. But leaving out the seventh of the scale takes any tritone out of the scale, giving us a tame harmonic scheme.

Personal Compositional Note: Simplicity and can be compelling, and can reach more fellow humans at a shared, possibly even deep level. Finding fresh ways to offer simplicity may be more challenging than finding new innovations for complexity. Creative talent, even genius, may be found in the creation of fresh takes on simplicity.

The next post will move to Southeast Asia.

Previous posts on this topic:

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks

This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin

Music, the Brain and Ecstasy by Robert Jourdain

Music and the Mind by Anthony Storr

Good Vibrations/The Physics of Music by Barry Parker

Measured Tones by Ian Johnston

Exploring Music by Charles Taylor

Music and Mathematics: From Pythagoras to Fractals, edited by John Fauvel, Raymond Flood and Robin Wilson

Harmonies of Heaven and Earth: From Antiquity to the Avant-Garde by Joscelyn Godwin

The Study of Ethnomusicology by Bruno Nettl

Issa Music – Featured Selection: (11) “Voice in the Wilderness” November 1, 2012

Posted by rwf1954 in fusion jazz, Issa, Issa Legend, jazz, Jesus in India, music, mystic jazz, new age jazz, Saint Issa legend.
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  • (Each month, I will feature a detailed description of one of the thirteen selections from my CD “Issa Music” with a link to the full piece. That link will remain up for one month. After that, the link at this post will be to a one minute clip. One minute clips of all the Issa Pieces are available at my website. Detailed notes on all the pieces are also available there. The full length pieces available with these blog posts are before mastering for CD release. The complete Issa Music CD is available for sale, along with downloads of individual mastered selections.)
  • (“Issa Music” is an East-meets-West mystic jazz CD released inspired by the “Legend of Issa.” Did Jesus journey to India and study Buddhism and Hinduism before his world-changing spiritual mission in Roman-occupied Judea? If so, are West and East spiritually connected in ways we have never imagined? “Issa Music” celebrates this idea with a blend of eastern and western modes and timbres.)

Play this month’s selection: “Voice in the Wilderness”

Background on “Voice in the Wilderness”: Here is the first of Set Two of the “Issa Music” pieces recorded, the tenth Issa piece over all. This piece was created with a similar concept to the very first piece, “Mystic Jam.” We have a motif strung out in improvisations over a simple tonal backdrop, in a Dorian mode (basically a minor key but with the major sixth and flat seventh of the scale). For this piece, I had a specific visual in mind inspiring me. “Voice in the Wilderness” concerns the Christian biblical reference to John the Baptist. “Wilderness” refers to an uncivilized area where few humans live. It is a place suited to singular meditation and contemplation. I had an image of hermit-like holy men sitting on top of high brown column-like fomations, raised up, overlooking an arid terrain, looking out from their lonely perches. They all have different flutes, and they play the piece’s motif back and forth to each other, as if exchanging their lone spiritual/mystical visions through the motifs. The piece migrates through various textures, some thin, then building to thickness. Different ideas come and go, but always moving back to that original motif. One of my favorite “Issa Music” moments comes between the third and fourth minutes. The background builds, with percussion, choir sounds, adding to thicken the sonic texture. Then, as if crying out for attention, a lone pure synth sound breaks over the top, as if it is the “Voice in the Wilderness,” begging for listeners to consider what it has to say. Originally I chose fourteen pieces for the “Issa Music” CD. This was not one of the original pieces. But whenever I thought of this music, I thought of that moment, that cry from the mystical/spiritual wilderness, and I knew this piece was the epitome of “Issa Music.” I had to include it, and make a painful choice to cut two others to make room. This piece captures that feeling of believing you have something meaningful to say, something that could be truly helpful to people, and you cry out for your words, your ideas, to be heard and considered. It operates at a gut level, with very simple musical ideas spun out to create the effect.

“Issa Music is Coming” blog post, September 21, 2011.

The story behind Issa Music.

Probable liner notes for the Issa Music CD.

Richard Warren Field music page.

Book Commentary/Review – The Study of Ethnomusicology by Bruno Nettl October 24, 2012

Posted by rwf1954 in book review, books, Bruno Nettl, ethnomusicology, music, The Study of Ethnomusicology.
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(This is the tenth of a series of commentaries about a series of books about the nature of music. The other commentaries of this series were about the books Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks, This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin, Music, the Brain and Ecstasy by Robert Jourdain, Music and the Mind by Anthony Storr, Good Vibrations/The Physics of Music by Barry Parker, Measured Tones by Ian JohnstonExploring Music by Charles TaylorMusic and Mathematics: From Pythagoras to Fractals, edited by John Fauvel, Raymond Flood and Robin Wilson and Harmonies of Heaven and Earth: From Antiquity to the Avant-Garde by Joscelyn Godwin. This series has been triggered as a result of  my rediscovery of the love of creating and performing music. There is definitely a spiritual connection to this rediscovery, evidenced by my recent release of “Issa Music” and my posts about mystical/spiritual aspects of the music of the progressive rock group Yes (The Poetry of (the Progressive Rock Group) Yes: Introduction to “The Revealing Science of God—Dance of the Dawn” from “Tales from Topographic Oceans”  and The Poetry of (the Progressive Rock Group) Yes). This further relates to spiritual meditations with the theme of more than one path to God, and the possible coming together of both physics and metaphysics I and II).

Getting acquainted with the discipline of ethnomusicology was an inevitable step in this inquiry. Bruno Nettl’s The Study of Ethnomusicology has been a great way to catch a glimpse of this area of study, and gather information relevant to my own priorities. This inquiry started with the objective of studying music’s relationship to physics and metaphysics. This has led logically to a look at different music from around the world. Are there universal aspects to music, common among all cultures? Beyond that, are there aspects of music that are universal for all sentient creatures? That second question can only be answered very speculatively, but it still needs to be considered if we are thinking of music as a possible link of physics to metaphysics. If it is, we would expect other sentient beings to have this link available to them as well. So universal characteristics of music become important to this study. And looking at varied music from around the world, formed from different origins and traditions, becomes an integral part of looking at these issues. 

Nettl, of course, spends much time discussing the ethnomusicology discipline. He did not write this book to address my concerns, admittedly outside of anything academically conventional. But the book is a comprehensive look at ethnomusicology. I feel as if I have a good idea of what drives the discipline, and what information I might expect from ethnomusicologists. This has led me to purchase another ethnomusicology textbook, World Music: A Global Journey, by Terry E. Miller and Andrew Shahriari. The book includes three CDs (and detailed listing guides) containing excerpts of music from all over the world, and a survey of music from region to region. I will create chapter-by-chapter blog posts of the areas studied, with comments on my takeaways from each. So I am expanding this series of posts again. I will continue to look at universality, commonality, among the different music excerpts. But as I am now gathering material for new music, with incredible computer technology that will allow me to create music unthought of a decade or so ago, I’ll be looking at how I might incorporate characteristics of each region’s music into my own musical vision. 

Points I take from Bruno Nettl’s The Study of Ethnomusicology:

  • Bruno Nettl specialized in Plains Indians and Persian music, two very different musical traditions, by location and characteristics!
  • Nettl acknowledges that “an understanding of the nature of musical creation is a major issue in the world of music, a problem largely unsolved in scholarship.” The instinct to connect with the divine in some way, the metaphysical angle, needs to be considered. And, this consideration may be “unsolvable in scholarship,” at least conventional academic treatments.
  • Nettl starts off seeming to be hostile to the “study of universals.” And this led me to think that though this discipline fascinates me, and the information ethnomusicologists bring to us is central to my own musical concerns and objectives, I would not have fit in with ethnomusicologists!
  • But then Nettl goes on to discuss “three kinds of universals”: “Anything present in every instant of music,” “anything that is present in every musical utterance,” and “a third and somewhat more realistic approach, we ask where there is anything that is found in each musical system… whether there are any characteristics or traits present in all of them.” A fourth approach is also mentioned—“whether there are features shared not by all but by a healthy majority of musics.”
  • Nettl does find among music around the world “the association of music with the supernatural. All known cultures accompany religious activity with music.” Obviously, I do not believe this is a coincidence.
  • Nettl acknowledges that technology, especially computer power, is leading to the world becoming more “multimusical.” This is what I am engaged in at a practical, production level with “Issa Music,” released late last year, now with over 500 fans on Jango internet radio.
  • Nettl addresses the idea of all “musics” seen as equal, with “Western” systems of harmony given no superior qualitative status. As a practitioner, not academician, I need not concern myself with this. I will adopt whatever moves me artistically, both from my own “Western” perspective, and from newly learned musical approaches from other places in the world.
  • Yes, of course—hearing music is much more important than analyzing notation on paper.
  • Nettl expresses frustration trying to establish firm analytical models to address varied music systems. I know for an academician, this is frustrating. But I accept that not everything is quantifiable—reduced to binary 1s and 0s, reduced to digital information on a spreadsheet. Some things in life, especially artistic things, are “analog.” Nettl acknowledges this later when he says “the literature of ethnomusicology is full of discussions of music that focus on what somehow seems salient or significant or interesting to the author.”
  • He discusses whether studying music from other cultures is some sort of exploitation, almost like colonial exploitation. I find this absurd. I believe sharing cross-culturally is one of the greatest forces for good in our increasingly integrated world, a world of shrinking proximities. In my own efforts, I have no intention of hijacking original material from other cultures (or from any other people who have created music). I do intend to be influenced by sounds, by scales, by harmonies and by rhythms from everything I hear, including new music from my own “Western” culture.
  • Nettl mentions the 1970s as the “period of greatest harmonic dissonance” in “Western music.” I experienced this personally as a conservatory student between 1972 and 1976. I concluded I had no future in academia as a “serious music”/”art music” composer because I did not adopt the idea of dissonance for dissonance sake as part of my musical vision. I still don’t. Maybe academia is less enthralled with dissonance now— frankly, I have no idea, and no concerns about what academia accepts anymore.
  • Nettl, on page 253, says “time to show my colors. The fundamental function of music in human society, what music ultimately does, is twofold: to control humanity’s relationship to the supernatural, mediating between human and other beings, and to support the integrity of individual social groups.” Yes, Professor Nettl, on particularly the first part of your statement, we are in agreement.
  • Nettl explains Islam’s often hostile attitude toward music by pointing out that Islam calls for a direct relationship between God and the individual. This means music is not needed to mediate between God and people, so is of lower importance. In fact, some Muslims consider music potentially dangerous. This seems absurd to me. Muslims study the Koran as an important part of their religion. No one talks about the Koran getting between the direct relationship between God and the individual. The Koran is an essential tool for facilitating that relationship. Music can also be such a tool.
  • Nettl mentions tunings, referring to the circle of fifths. As I have discussed in earlier posts, this falls in the realm of physics, and leads to a possible conclusion on universal characteristics of music.
  • Nettl says “…ethnomusicologists have largely taken this attitude: humans are very much alike, and they all have music.”
  • Musical instruments “seem to be a cultural universal.”

So my journey through these topics continues. I have expanded this once again. There will be a set of blog posts, one at a time, about the different regions of the world as covered in World Music: A Global Journey. I will then discuss Leonard Bernstein’s lectures “The Unanswered Question.”  I have the benefit of both the written versions of these lectures and viewing DVDs of the lectures during which he provides copious musical examples. After concluding with my discussion of Bernstein’s ideas, I’ll offer some conclusions of my own that attempt to take this topic from physics to metaphysics to music and to formulate some conclusions. I expect these conclusions to influence my own music-making over the coming years.

Interim Post—Music, Physics and Metaphysics October 19, 2012

Posted by rwf1954 in metaphysics, music, physics, spirituality.
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As I indicated at the end of my last post on this topic, I am nearing the end of my study of the subject (for now—I am never closed to new ideas), and conclusions are forming. At the risk of this study winding on into infinity, I have identified yet more additional material to consider. As I finish up Bruno Nettl’s book on ethnomusicology, I find myself wanting familiarity with more “non-Western” music. I have identified material for further study. I have no chance of absorbing everything on such a broad topic. But I would like to learn more than I know now in order to address the issues I have taken on. I don’t think this will take long. I can see offering some comprehensive conclusions in a post during the first half of next year.

I need to clarify, for any musicologist, ethnomusicologist or other music scholar who has stumbled onto this—I am not a music scholar. I am a music creator—songs, music pieces, improvisations—I study music to expand my capabilities to create music. I am extremely grateful to scholars who have devoted hours/years/lives to studying aspects of music. I feast on your findings—then I draw my own conclusions from your work. And those conclusions function for my own creative purposes. If I have advanced any sort of scholarly understanding, I would be honored—and surprised! But the results of my feast on music scholarly findings will be in the music I create. I write here simply for anyone interested in my thought processes.

Conclusions that are starting to take shape:

  • Music, more than any other art, has the potential to relate the physical to the metaphysical. I will address this in detail in my final post, going into all three of the subjects, to offer an admittedly speculative and unconventional conclusion.
  • Music appears to be universal to all of humanity. The physical/metaphysical relationship with music may be a primary aspect of this.
  • Some basics of consonance and dissonance are discernible and may be universal. But cultural context also plays a part. Within some broad general principles of consonance and dissonance, wide fluctuations across cultures seem obvious.
  • Tonality also appears to be built into humans despite all recent (within the last century) efforts to shake up the tonality framework by music creators. (I will be reading the Leonard Bernstein book of his interview on this topic, The Unanswered Question, which will address this. I suspect it will do nothing to dissuade me from this conclusion!)
  • A harder question is whether music is universal for all sentient beings. I will discuss this—conclusions still forming on this one—though this is a highly speculative area!
  • I will discuss how all of this will influence my music production going forward. I’ve acquired some incredibly sophisticated music production software.  This opens up capabilities rarely dreamt of when I produced “Issa Music” back in 1998-1990. With the time I have left, hopefully a few more decades of creative productivity, I intend to utilize this gift computer technology has provided for a number of different projects: 1) more “Issa Music,” cross-cultural “mystic jazz,” 2) a Christmas CD of mostly familiar songs (four originals/eleven “covers” will be included) that will celebrate the “cross-cultural” musical idea, celebrating Christmas as a spiritual holiday that belongs to all of humanity and 3) a series of Richard Warren Field songbook albums that will offer about 25% originals and 75% covers of rock/pop/jazz songs, also reworked with the cross-cultural idea.

So expect a few more posts on reading and other activities related to this topic, and then a grand post. Brace yourself for that one—some of the ideas will seem “out there,” but I believe “out there” in a magical, mystical place.

Previous posts on this subject:

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks

This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin

Music, the Brain and Ecstasy by Robert Jourdain

Music and the Mind by Anthony Storr

Good Vibrations/The Physics of Music by Barry Parker

Measured Tones by Ian Johnston

Exploring Music by Charles Taylor

Music and Mathematics: From Pythagoras to Fractals, edited by John Fauvel, Raymond Flood and Robin Wilson

Harmonies of Heaven and Earth: Mysticism in Music by Joscelyn Godwin

(This series has been triggered as a result of  my rediscovery of the love of creating and performing music. There is definitely a spiritual connection to this rediscovery, evidenced by my recent release of “Issa Music” and my posts about mystical/spiritual aspects of the music of the progressive rock group Yes (The Poetry of (the Progressive Rock Group) Yes: Introduction to “The Revealing Science of God—Dance of the Dawn” from “Tales from Topographic Oceans”  and The Poetry of (the Progressive Rock Group) Yes). This further relates to spiritual meditations with the theme of more than one path to God, and the possible coming together of both physics and metaphysics I and II).

Issa Music – Featured Selection: (10) “Eastern Boogie” October 1, 2012

Posted by rwf1954 in fusion jazz, Issa, Issa Legend, jazz, Jesus in India, music, mystic jazz, new age jazz, Saint Issa legend.
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  • (Each month, I will feature a detailed description of one of the thirteen selections from my CD “Issa Music” with a link to the full piece. That link will remain up for one month. After that, the link at this post will be to a one minute clip. One minute clips of all the Issa Pieces are available at my website. Detailed notes on all the pieces are also available there. The full length pieces available with these blog posts are before mastering for CD release. The complete Issa Music CD is available for sale, along with downloads of individual mastered selections.)
  • (“Issa Music” is an East-meets-West mystic jazz CD released inspired by the “Legend of Issa.” Did Jesus journey to India and study Buddhism and Hinduism before his world-changing spiritual mission in Roman-occupied Judea? If so, are West and East spiritually connected in ways we have never imagined? “Issa Music” celebrates this idea with a blend of eastern and western modes and timbres.)

Play this month’s selection: “Eastern Boogie”

Background on “Eastern Boogie”: This piece, the fourth Issa piece created in Set One, took the “Issa Music” concept into a new direction. I felt I wasn’t getting enough “East” into my East-West fusion concept. So I went exotic modal, using a scale with some augmented seconds in it, and with the flat second of the scale, but keeping the major third. I came up with an exotic little ditty that seemed to work well. The bass line fit nicely under it, a bass line that allowed a lot of room for improvisation. The A section seemed to lead logically to the B section, which was derived as a sort of harmonic mirror image of the A section. The bass line for the section starts away from the tonality but slides back into it. The melodic part of the section seemed to grow right out of it. So I simply introduced the A and B sections, then improvised over the bass lines to those sections, running up and down and in an out of those modes. I used the technology to vary the timbres, instruments and textures of the backing tracks and leads. Now I had a pattern I could follow throughout the project—opening sections introducing a theme/mode/harmonic setup, followed by improvisation with exotic instrumental combinations utilized to develop the musical ideas.

“Issa Music is Coming” blog post, September 21, 2011.

The story behind Issa Music.

Probable liner notes for the Issa Music CD.

Richard Warren Field music page.