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Showing posts from February, 2017

Giving Your Practice A Voice

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As I always do, I had a Q&A/Sharing time after last night's sound session. If there is time, I like to offer this, because people often have questions about all the different instruments, how I play them, what made what sound, etc. We also share our experiences, as everyone's is different and personal. Experiences like physical sensations, spiritual journeys, or audio/visual stimulation.




Voice As Meditation

Part of this is people explaining what they heard. Last night various people said they heard voices. This is a two fold experience. 

1) Sound is deeply linked to memory. Often we hear things that sound like something we have heard before. In the case of the Gongs/Bowls/Bells, these instruments cover a very wide frequency range, and various sound/frequencies may trigger a memory of voices or vocal sounds. I have had people say that they hear singing, or choirs. I've also had people describe hearing strings or orchestras, which is a very similar type sound.




2) Hearing voi…

Art As A Spiritual Practice

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If there's one thing long time readers should pick up from following my blogs, it's that I see my art as a spiritual practice.
A spiritual practice or spiritual discipline (often including spiritual exercises) is the regular or full-time performance of actions and activities undertaken for the purpose of inducing spiritual experiences and cultivating spiritual development. - Wikipedia
In it's purest sense, spirituality has very little to do with organized religion. In fact, rather than being a group exercise, it is a very personal experience. Throughout history, artists have often been the keepers of a sense of spirituality in our various cultures. 

I look at my own path, one of being raised Catholic, then delving into mysticism (such as Rosicrucianism), and finally ending up where I exist today, extremely interested in Buddhist thought and practice, yet not belonging to any group experience or practice. 

John Cage at Ryoanji
Experience As Meditation

Like many before me, I have …

Gongs & Fingerprints

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From this week's mail box, a question about fingerprints on your Gongs:


I was wondering what your opinion is on the accutonics position to never touch your gong because the oils from your fingers will destroy the purity of the vibration from the instrument. For those of us that do a lot of performances and have a lot of moving to do it seems rather difficult even if it were true. 


Have you seen this anywhere?
Ah, the dreaded fingerprints! Please realize that there are 2 very different sides to this story and that neither one is wrong. 

One side is the people who always wear gloves when handling and setting up their Gongs. They also tend to wipe them off often and even do a lot of cleaning to keep them looking brand new.

The other side, which I belong too, takes great care of their Gongs, realizing that they are very fine musical instruments. But we also realize that they are tools of the trade as it were. I have some Gongs that I've had for over 40 years. Some of them look as new a…

The Art of Nothingness

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Continuing from the last post, once you strip your music down to its essence, what next?

You keep stripping things away until you are left with nothing. Nothing but your own essence, your heart, your soul.


“There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.” ― John Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings 
But as Cage reminds us, there is no such thing as nothing. Even if I strip away all the music and sit silently, there is still my breathing, my heart beating, and in true Cagean fashion, the ambient sounds of the world around me. And in my case, there is always my tinnitus, ringing away in my head. So matter how hard I try, even in an isolation chamber, there is still that ringing.

But I have learned to embrace this almost silence. I have also learned to make peace with the sounds I cannot take away. It used to be when I was playing a meditation session, I would be thrown off by…

The Art of Subtraction

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Like most people, when you are young, you tend to want to overdo everything. That's especially true if you are a musician. Many young male musicians seem to be fueled equally by a desire to create music and testosterone. This mix can often produce a steady wall of sound, whether it's in a rock band, jazz band, or even playing Gongs. Intensity has a great effect, but like construction noise outside of your window, after a while it gets ignored.

I'm all for intensity, but after a while, I got tired of it. I used to often play a solid wall of sound for an hour or more. It was big, intense, glorious; but so much the same thing. Over time I got tired of it. I also found it less than interesting because it was so one dimensional.

Over the years, I've steadily subtracted notes, all the while adding more sounds to my set up. I've also learned to appreciate and use space more. Space is as important, if not more important than the notes we play. Space allows the notes to be he…