Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The Ritual of Music

In my last post discussing Roxy Music I wrote about not being able to articulate what i wanted to say.  That made me focus a bit more on what I'm doing writing these appreciations and inspired me to write this post.

Currently I am reading a book: Re-make/Re-model: Becoming Roxy Music by Michael Bracewell which is very academic, it's interesting it's not so much a history of Roxy as an extended essay on the Art ideas that surrounded Roxy Music. If I get to the end of it I'll see if has brought Roxy into better perspective. But negatively this book made me think of Art developing within the environment of a University or Art school as an academic discipline. I so seldom get inspired by contemporary art and I think it's academic roots are one of the main causes, but possibly this reflects the wider cultural environment. I think an apprenticeship, technical institute or entirely amateur model is better and a spiritual environment would be best.

The reason I am averse to the University model for fostering art can be illustrated through an online video I recently watched, as Universities are very left brain centric and art for me is about connectivity intuition which are very right brain:


Bolte Taylor speaks about having a stroke which basically shut down her left brain functionality, the logical, task oriented language side of the brain and left her with her right brain which lives in a rich present without worries emotional baggage and a deep sense of connectiveness, she felt vast unable to be contained within her body of which she could no longer recognise it's demarcations as it was all part of one great web of energy. I recommend watching the video it is emotional  funny and intelligent. Bolte came back feeling that we all need to be able to make the choice to step into that right brain consciousness for the sake of peace and our well being.

The reason I'm talking about Bolte is that music is one of those ways where we can still our busy planning intellectual minds and open up to a sense of connection, intuition and beauty, all of the albums I have featured on my blog are ones that when I listen to them gives me this kind of experience. There is a ceremonial/ritualistic aspect to music. Pop music often gives us information about fashion, style, vocabulary and social sets, but it is the religious or spiritual function that I think gives us the most.

The Doors and Yes are two pop rock groups that seem to deliberately and succesfully evoke a sense of ritual, the Doors is rather a dark evocation which in the main I prefer not to subject myself to. For both groups the evocation centres around their singers who serve as conduits like shamans through which that connecting energy flows. Both singers use words for their evocative power rather than through left brain linear development:

The Doors:

And the rain falls gently on the town
And over the heads of all of us
And in the labyrinth of streams
Beneath, the quiet unearthly presence of
gentle hill dwellers, in the gentle hills around
Reptiles abounding
Fossils, caves, cool air heights


A seasoned witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace
And rearrange your liver to the solid mental grace
And achieve it all with music that came quickly from afar
And taste the fruit of man recorded losing all against the hour

The Yes lyrics particularly are an assault upon our rational compartmentalising mind if we give it up for the time that the music plays we can enter into a relationship with the music.

I think Ritual is universally important for humanity. The Australian Aborigines through their rituals would enter into the Dreaming a zone where creation, their mythology, the landscape they were in was vividly alive and present, where the universal beginning (Creation) is happening NOW, where our distinctions of past, present and future melt, where meaning lives in and around us, where we are connected with God / the Gods.

In modern Westernised societies we still have the echoes and the driving force behind these rituals, upon reaching adulthood how many among us don't partake in the ritual of binge drinking and becoming totally wasted? In traditional societies this need ritual was chanelled into ecstatic ceremonies that would fulfill our urge for connection and would link us to shared group meanings that would live with us outside the time/space of the ritual and give value to it. Whereas our poor inarticulate version does not, there is little that links our everyday consciousness to these ecstatic states.

Art then is much like a drug, in that it can be used to alter our state of consciousness, personally I think it's better, although Terrence McKenna and Graham Hancock make good cases drugs and there may well be astute use that could be beneficial socially. There are many Shamanistic traditions that use drugs in genuinely spiritual ways, but I think there are many beneficial ways we can make deliberate choices to access right brain /mythological states of consciousness that can be explored without recourse to drugs and emersion in music is one of those. I think as a society we need to become more aware of left brain consciousness, value it, celebrate it and integrate it into our lives, then we will find more peace in ourselves and only then can their be peace around us.

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