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reviews by René Wadlow

There is an increasing amount of music—often called New Age—which aims to facilitate a state of relaxation or, more profoundly, to help reach a consciousness of the egoless self which exists prior to experience. Such music ranges from the sentimental to the uplifting and visionary. Sounds of the Dawn highlights these efforts and welcomes readers’ observations and suggestions. 

 

Moon Dancing
Amber Wolfe

Llewellyn Publications
 PO Box 64383
St Paul, MN 55164-0383, USA 

{mosgoogle}Moon Dancing is part of a tape series "for helping to rebalance the yin and yang" by reclaiming women’s spirituality. These are guided meditations for women who feel that their spiritual life has dried up or been abused. As Nutan Joy has written "Women is that aspect of divinity that physically nurtures and brings forth the invisible into form. Within our bodies, the sacred mystery of life begins and is shaped... In ancient cultures, when woman spoke from her deepest self, her voice was honored and recognized as Divinity speaking through the feminine, not as better or worse than man but as the complementary function, different and equal."

Amber Wolfe tries to recapture this earlier function of women’s spirituality by having the listener visualize woodland spirits, wise goddesses, pools of water and colored crystals. It is an effort to reactivate deep archetypes of women’s spirituality. The danger is that it ends up as a fairy tale without a plot. This tape is not for everyone, but may help some to visualize archetypal forms and receive energy from them.

The Music of Gurdjieff/De Hartmann
G.I. Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann
Triangle Editions
PO Box 452, New York
NY 10021, USA
 

Thomas de Hartmann, despite his name, is a Russian composer. He and his wife Olga were well known in musical and literary circles in St Petersburg in the years before the First World War. He composed the music for Wassily Kandinsky’s The Yellow Sound—both Kandinsky and de Hartmann being active in the theosophical milieu that then flourished in Russia.

Through his interest in Asian thought de Hartmann met George Gurdjieff who had come to St Petersburg in 1910 after twenty years of travels through Asia to study philosophical traditions. Gurdjieff had learned both from Sufi masters and from Mongolian and Tibetan Buddhists. These traditions use music and dance for spiritual growth. Gurdjieff used the Sufi techniques to develop movements to create a harmonious state within the individual and a new relation with the universe.

For a number of years, Gurdjieff and de Hartmann worked together, Gurdjieff playing the piano with one finger or writing with his own symbols while de Hartmann tried to translate into European musical notation. In the early 1950’s, after Gurdjieff’s death and shortly before his own, de Hartmann recorded for friends some of these pieces. The quality of these tapes has been improved with modern equipment. The result is outstanding and will create a renewed interest in the music of Gurdjieff (somewhere there must be many pages of untranslated musical notations) as well as in the sacred music of Central Asia. De Hartmann’s autobiography Our Life with Mr Gurdjieff was published by Harper’s in 1983.

The Holy Spirit and The Holy Grail
Adrian Wagner

The Music Suite
Cernarth, Newcastle Enlyn
Dyfred SA38 9JN, UK
 

The myth of the Grail—the cup Jesus used for the last supper which was thought to have later held some of his blood from the cross—was widely used during the European Middle Ages both by Catholics and Cathar. The search for the Grail—to be found only by the pure in heart—was also part of Celtic traditions and is found in the King Arthur cycle of tales. The Grail quest is at the heart of the myth of Parsifal, written in operatic form by Richard Wagner.

Now his great, great grandson, also a composer, and inventor of early synthesisers, has used the Grail quest to write this piece, the first of a trilogy of compositions on the theme.

Adrian Wagner wishes to stress the Celtic aspect of the myth and also its feminine dimension which is often overlooked in the orthodox retelling of the myth. The Cathar (the Albigencies of the south of France) however stressed the complementarity of feminine and masculine elements in religion, and thus had a greater role for women in the Grail quest.

Wagner has written music for TV and films, so there is a certain "visual" quality to his music. While unlikely to displace the other Wagner’s Parsifal, there are a number of highly evocative themes here which merit our attention.

Merlin’s Cave
Bryan Lloyd

Wizard of Harmony Creations
 PO Box 189
 Sisters, OR 97759, USA
 

When one sees the conditions of the earth—violence, poverty, planetary pollution—the possibility of change may seem remote. But these socio-political conditions are created through the action of the mind, and the mind is capable of great change when its environment is threatened. Merlin’s cave is a place of preparation and learning for those who will go out to bring justice, harmony and peace to the world. In the original myth, only King Arthur was so prepared. Today we cannot expect the single political figure to set all aright. Rather the heroes of justice and harmony must be numerous. Yet preparations, learning, control of the emotions, clear-sightedness are as necessary for the many as for the single champion. Merlin’s Cave is good background for the integration of the personality in order to be effective in the world and to help visualise the necessary steps of preparation.

A Rainbow Path
Kay Gardener

Lady Slipper Inc.
PO Box 3124
Durham, NC 27705, USA
 

"Let music come, let the senses fade, the energy of life will come to its full flowering." So says this music based on the concept of the seven chakras—energy points going from the base of the spine through the third eye in the forehead to the crown chakra at the top of the head. Energy is said to rise and flow along these points. This music is used to help visualize the energy flowing, quickening the centers and the virtues associated with each point. Each piece of music has a brief text to help visualize the energy rising; each chakra has its own dominant color, so one visualizes the body as a rainbow, a color becoming stronger as each new chakra is activated. Except for advanced meditators, each piece of music is probably too short to visualize fully the activation of a chakra. The music can, of course, be listened to for relaxation and pleasure for those not used to chakra meditations. The music and production is by women and is distributed by a group that specializes in music by women.

Iridescence
Joel Andrews

Golden Harp Enterprises
Box 335
Ben Lomond, CA 95005, USA

It has always been known that sound has a profound impact on the emotions. Instrumental music, religious chanting, songs—all have been used to calm, to arouse, to create a sensation of blending individuals into a common group, or, just the opposite, of inducing an inward sense of individuality.

There is increasing use of music and color in healing, especially to reduce stress-induced illness. Iridescence was commissioned for use in a pain and rehabilitation clinic and is played on a harp. Side one is to liberate a patient from that closed in feeling due to prolonged stress. Side two promotes a meditative state allowing the healing energies in each person to come to the fore. Thus the music is an important aspect of a total healing experience. The harp has often been associated in myth with angels—a personalization of higher forces. The music does not heal, but opens a door to a universal language of vibrations and subtle energies.