Thursday, December 29, 2011


Soon after I completed Heartlands, the large choral commission I've been working on of throughout most of 2011, I was commissioned to make a CD of music for meditation, yoga practice, Reiki sessions, and other healing work. A friend's mother had been using my CD Trance for some time, and had given it some praise, so I was commissioned to make a new CD as a gift. I worked on this project in my recording studio for about a month, and completed the CD just before Xmas 2011. It's entirely instrumental music, prominently featuring shakuhachi, and Tibetan and Japanese meditation bells.

This year I plan to finally figure out how to market more of my music online, including this new CD as well as some older CDs. Here's the title track as a taste of things to come:


—AD, shakuhachi, computer music instruments

The musical soundscape was created in part by using some music apps on my new iPad. I got the iPad after completing Heartlands. I can see that for me the iPad is going to be a fantastic creative tool, both for music and photography, and likely in ways I haven't even thought of yet. The other cool thing about the iPad is that finally computer design and technology is approaching what I've wanted for years, after becoming a Star Trek fan. Design follows art in the best way possible.

"Darshan" is a Sanskrit word that means "see" or "seeing." In Hindu usage it refers to beholding the gods, or God, directly, and can also refer to those annual festivals when images of the gods are taken out of the temples and paraded through the streets for all to see. There is an implication that what we see also sees us: a mystical truth not limited to Hinduism, but found in most mystical traditions. As the great Medieval Christian mystic Meister Eckhart said, "The eye with which I see God is the eye with which God sees me."

"Darshan" in Indian philosophy also is used to describe worldviews and mindsets, the distinctive in which a systematized philosophy looks at things, including its exegesis of sacred texts. Yoga itself is considered a darshan. Yoga is a form of kinesthetic meditation, after all, like walking meditation or the highest levels of some martial arts.

So, Darshan is about the seeing the divine, the encounter with the divine. One realizes in the encounter that one is not separate from the divine, but all are part of the One. And one realizes that one's actions are not other than the will of the divine, which after all is made of all beings and what they will.

The blessing of doing this smaller commissioned piece of music is that it filled the gap between the completion of the writing of Heartlands, and the beginning of the rehearsal process. I have learned, as never before, that I need to always have something to work on. And the past few weeks have been very stressful, even dire and desperate at times. Multiple stressors all came home to roost at the same time. (Including having to change my dietary regimen (again!) just before the winter holiday season. The good news is that the new, even more restrictive dietary regimen is in fact effective, and I have made real progress losing weight this past week or so, for the first time ever since the surgery last summer.)

The wisdom of artistic perseverance is to make sure you are always working on multiple projects, and that as soon as you finish one, you start another. Don't wait. Dive right in. Never leave a gap in between projects, because a gap between projects is the door by which depression and despair can enter. It's not about doing make-work to keep yourself preoccupied or distracted: this is real work, not make-work. It's about knowing that I stay more grounded and focused when I have a big creative project of some kind to occupy my attention. It's a way of channelling one's energy in the best way, and preventing those inner voices of panic and depression form gaining a toe-hold. It helps with being able to cope with the day-to-day.

Therefore, as I completed the Darshan CD, I began writing a new song, maybe to become a new set of songs, for myself to sing and play. One of these will probably get premiered at a fundraiser in March. The style is more loose and jazz-pop-rock than formal. I'm still working on the lyrics, but after several false starts, the pattern fell into place, and progress has been made. All I anticipate needing to notate finally is melody-and-words, with chord symbols for the chord changes. I'll write lead sheets, in other words, instead of fully realized charts.

Then I'll do my best to learn to sing the song and play Stick at the same time.

I feel like my Stick playing is revitalized, as I wrote about after seeing Tony Levin in concert a couple of months ago, which I felt gave me permission to go my own way as a player; even to play simply and cleanly, and not need to become another solo Stick artist who can play anything. I have my limits, and I'm okay with them. Practice is what it takes to stretch them, that's all.

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Blogger Elisabeth said...

Gentle, soothing music Art. It comforts me in much the way Brian Eno's music works for me. Congratulations on your marvelous achievements. you deserve to be very proud. And get onto the marketing. There is so much out there and yours is better, as far as I can tell from this small taste.

I've been on a mad summer time clean up of my house for the past two days and so I'm badly in need of music that can make me stop and settle my racing heart. Thank you.

2:22 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Thanks, Elisabeth.

I take the Eno comparison as a huge compliment, as he is in fact a big influence on me for when I work in this style of music. And influence on everyone, of course, he's that important.

And I'm glad the music worked for you that way, that was how it's intended. That's really terrific feedback, thanks!

I need to work on the marketing, I know. It's moving up closer to the top of the Things To Do list, and I'm going to try to sort it this coming month if I can.

12:52 PM  

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