Archive for music

Pop maestro

Posted in Cults, Doom and Evil, propaganda, Reality Bites, society, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , on October 1, 2009 by wizardsmoke

As a skilled (some generous folks might even say professional) musician, I do not take other people’s musical opinions too seriously. I generally just don’t care that much. Does a financier or banker or Fortune 500 director or CEO care what the average person has to say about finance? I would wager he/she does not.

Having admitted to this, I got a call the other night to go see U2 for free. Ahahaha! I declined. “But,” my friend protested, “you’re a music guy. This is your thing.” As I told him, that while U2 does amuse me in a painful manner, the band does not bring me listening pleasure in any capacity (also, I am not sure that I trust that Bono guy. He hides behind sunglasses a lot. Really, what’s with that? No eye-contact? Eye-contact is the most direct form of non-verbal communication, pal, and your music sure doesn’t have any communicable message…).

One fun way to test your mental concentration, is to listen to some music, and whilst listening to it, mentally recall and listen to some other piece of music in your head, singing along to it. It gets harder to do the more accessible and catchy you find the music that is actually coming through your speakers. It can strengthen the kind of concentration you need in performance, magic or martial arts, or any other discipline in which you need to convince the ego’s insecurities or fears to temporarily conform with the will. I.e. you create a strong center of concentration which is unperturbed by direct sensory influences.

This kind of concentration is similar to what practiced musicians are doing all the time during ensemble performances, especially between more complex and seasoned folks (surely you can imagine this exercise is what I do when some kind of trinkety U2-sounding pop music schmaltz is invading my surroundings.). Skilled musicians, like people skilled at anything else group-oriented (military, sports, business, dance, monasticism, relationships, etc.), are responsible for covering their own asses throughout the performance, not listen to or watch the whole band at once the way the audience can. That’s the only way the whole thing stays together.

Ah, but what is pop music anyway? Just the self-willed capitalist propaganda of the masses. Oh yeah I sound cynical, but capitalist culture is just the dictatorship without the dictator. And pop music is the really boring, blatant, thoughtless music product made entirely to consume. There is no high art in pop music — it’s catchy in order to get stuck in your brain and further duplicate itself in sales. It is just like film in that sense (everyone knows a film is an advertisement for itself, I mean c’maaaannnn).

The sole purpose of a pop song is to get stuck in your head. There is no other point, no greater pleasure to be derived from it. It is meant to occupy your mind when you are not listening to it.

Huh, but no matter, ‘coz I’m sure you don’t care what I think of music either.

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Magical Musical Miasma

Posted in Mysticism, Occult, Philosophy, Poetry, Tantra, The Arts, Ultimate Reality, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2008 by wizardsmoke

As a serious initiate on the musical path, I use music to illustrate a lot of mystical/creative/magickal ideas analogously. You know, stuff they don’t teach you in music theory.

In a great Leonard Bernstein concert series back in the day, one he held for children in New York City (Radio City?) in the 1960s, the conductor demonstrated how the pop hooks of the Beatles song “Help!” were actually the same simplified chord progressions behind a small segment of an orchestral piece by Brahms. Not that I remember the name of the video or the Brahms piece, oh no! But Bernstein got his one moment of applause from the young audience when he transitioned into “Help!” on the piano.

But Bernstein was pointing out that what pop songs do (as opposed to orchestral pieces or other kinds of music) is drill a simple pop hook or melody into your head until it is jammed in there. A good pop song gets stuck in a person’s head, like a commercial slogan. Pop music is like good propaganda and is often utilized as such by businesses (and very poorly by political campaigns, har har).

Okay, that’s nice and obvious. What interests me, though, is how the energy or inspiration behind the original compositional idea is communicated when one repeats the melodic idea or “hook” in one’s own conscious mind. That is to say, the spirit of the song-writer can be moderately transmitted to the listener, particularly as one repeats the work or continuously surrounds oneself with the music. Angry music will transmit an angry flavor, sad music a melancholy sentiment, etc. It also comes down to the integrity and ability of the composer and performer, but the spirit of the original moment is captured in the music — like in any other thing they produce (writing, film, art, whatever). In fact, if I had one criticism of classical music, it is that sometimes the energy of the composer is hidden by the fact that they are not often performing the music!

So, the reason a pop hook is more “malicious” (or functions like brainwashing sorcery) is ‘coz when a person consciously retraces the steps of another individual’s spiritual or creative output, the listener/viewer begins to recreate that energy within their own mind. This is why religious mantras are useful — they function as ways of influencing the mind to take on a certain disposition. The more one repeats something, until it is second nature, it seeps into one’s psyche.

This seems to be how spells and magic work with verse and such things. By creating a poem that both appeals to the subconscious with veiled intentions and yet is simultaneously is “catchy” at face value, sticking in the mind for its clever phrasing, alliteration, or whatever. I feel like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, the Doors and a bunch of other hippies were trying to play with this stuff (musically, visually, lyrically) when they were young (and overrated — ahahaha!) but I don’t think this method can really do much for you unless you’re a real big deal in the underworld.

Furthermore, I think most people seem to not consciously be aware of why they like or dislike things, why they are attracted to some flavors of experience or energy, why some music is good or bad (there are 5 factors that make up musical potential in my system of reasoning), and so forth. But even if you can find the most profound, blissful music in all the cosmos, people still like the same things for different reasons. And have I not repeatedly said that all people have the same emotions and poetic sensibilities, but with different capacities? Weaker music can still evoke deep emotions from someone with a lower capacity for musical depth.

That’s enough for now. I was going to discuss hand seals, mudras and so forth but more pressing business awaits! Stay tuned.

Painkillers (+ Love)

Posted in Beauty, Drug Abuse, Happiness, love, Mysticism, The Arts, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2008 by wizardsmoke

I am routinely amazed by the utter incompetence with which people recognize artistic and emotional depth. My guess — no! intuitive reasoning, is that all people feel the same emotional sensibilities but have different poetic capacities for experiencing them. So a person with lousy taste in music does not need particularly good music to satisfy their emotional needs (or maybe they don’t care about music, but whatever — adding that variable to the discussion just makes things complicated).

For me, the best music that I have found makes me feel like I’m on some opiate-type painkiller. You know the drill — total basking in the emotional depths of ecstasy and melancholy simultaneously, with complete tolerance and compassion for all creatures and situations in existence. Everyone, absolutely anyone, who takes painkillers will feel this way under their influence… and yet when the same emotions are evoked by music, art, literature, social interactions, etc. many people will either consciously attempt to suppress them or dismiss them as completely cheesy, saccharine, trite and so forth. Whyyyy is that?!?!?!

As soon as I perceive a piece of art, a person, a location, a picture, anything, I’ll sense the energy coming from it. It’s the most basic thing a human being does. I guess the ecstasy I describe as emanating from some really great, “virtuous” music is similar to the cliche description that most people adhere to when they mention that they get a “natural high” from meditative practices. That natural high is pretty good: a cross between psychedelics and opiates. Absolutely fantastic. But it takes so much work to maintain! Not that I mind, but…

I once read a Kurt Vonnegut interview where he points out that Freud’s famous comment about how religion is “the opiate of the masses” would be better translated as “the aspirin of the masses”. I agree with that general notion, that religions are just medicines for headaches. It just makes the headaches tolerable, it doesn’t necessarily delude the person. But then again, what if religious practices bring the opiate-induced pleasure I was describing? Then maybe Freud was right. But I wouldn’t have expected him to have any understanding of that…

Keys in the Dark

Posted in Beauty, genius, God(s), Mysticism, Philosophy, Reality Bites, society, The Arts, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , on August 27, 2008 by wizardsmoke

A genius is their own reward, eh? What of it??! Does that mean they’re supposed to be poor or something? You could say that geniuses are the pinnacle of nature (at least that’s what Spare would say — that humble soul!), that they carry the lead melodies of humanity.

In the totally amazing, gory and tragic Japanese manga/anime Berserk, one of the characters espouses the potent view that there are a select number of people who are like the “keys to the world”, existing outside of the common divisions of class, ethnicity and culture. They are responsible for the mass movements of mankind and culture, though they are not always celebrated openly. Their influence stretches deeply, through all the veins of human experience.

Yah, okay, I follow that. It’s fairly factual. Of course, a genius is exaggerated by their interaction with non-genii, ‘coz every single thing exists in contrast to something else. If a genius is like the lead melody in a song, it is remarkable in contrast to the chordal movements progressing underneath it. Without those, the melody might be beautiful, but it loses a lot of its color and character.

Yet still — those mass chordal movements, they are not as distinguished, beautiful or pristine. They are not as initially noticeable because they are slightly rugged and blend together. Isn’t that true when you hear a song? I mean, the average person, the first thing they notice — maybe the only thing — is the lead melody or the vocal melody. A lot of people do not hear anything else, such as the production, chord changes, compositional sense of pacing, etc. Even though the rhythmic properties are the necessary footsteps to realizing the pinnacle of the song.

The melodies, they are what we worship. Nobody venerates the simplest mundane tasks in a song. We approve and acknowledge and give credit where credit’s due, but that’s about it. Because the rhythm isn’t so glorious. And isn’t that the case with history and the gods? The melodies of humanity — the notable faces, stories and figures — we remember the glorious moments, the ones that stick out to us vibrantly, even though they can merely be cases of “standing on the shoulder(s) of giants”.

Perhaps it is as Einstein originally said, in a discussion with Rabindranath Tagore: line is older than color. And melody is older than harmony. Aren’t the oldest dreams of humanity, those tales of the gods — aren’t they the tales of heroic and mischievous deeds rather than tales of democracy and community? In other words, don’t we remember the old melodies instead of the old chord progressions?

The thing is, an insightful person can see the chord changes by the direction of the melody, or at least have a hint as to how it goes/went. “A fool sees not the same tree a wise man sees.”

Friggin’ Tagged!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 19, 2008 by wizardsmoke

I was pleasantly horrified to find myself tagged with a blogging meme by Mr. Parallel Sidewalk. Thanks, bro. I don’t even know seven people in real life, much less on the “blogosphere”. Ahahaha!

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring summer. Post these instructions in your blog along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they’re listening to.

Being nuts (or inclined toward the obvious — you be the judge) I set out to discover the source of this meme for myself! I started by stupidly trying to open each prior meme-tagger’s blog in a new Firefox browser-tab, which eventually gave my computer arthritis. After a fairly long journey through hyperspace, akin to the warp at the end of Space Odyssey 2001 (but not as cool), I arrived in the universe of *shudder* LiveJournal.

Actually, I found some interesting stuff along the way. Nothing to, as they say, “write home about” but a decent exposure to different internet circles. That’s what I think is cool about this tomfoolery. Isn’t that the point of it all? Who gives a freak what I listen to?

But alright. Okay. We’ll play this game. Never mind the fact that I already covered this in greater detail elsewhere but still… what songs doth a questionable creature such as myself listen to?

  1. Tangerine Dream – Rolling Down Cahuenga
  2. Ihsahn – Misanthrope
  3. Racer X – Heart of a Lion
  4. Krishna Das – Mountain Hare Krishna
  5. Judas Priest – Reckless
  6. Mike Oldfield – Innocent
  7. Meiko Kaji – Onna no Jyumon

As far as the whole tagging thing… I’ll just tag the three four other people I know in this blog universe: Benjaminista at Head Wide Open, The Electric Hermit and Cirellio. Oh, and Jonbro. He makes these things interesting.

Eternity’s Tune

Posted in Beauty, God(s), Happiness, love, Mysticism, Ultimate Reality, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , on May 25, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Eternity is in love with the productions of time. —Willie B.

Romance is a product of impermanence. Romance is the simultaneous pleasure of something you enjoy mixed with the sadness of knowing its impermanence — spun together with a sentimental, very human reflection. In this way, humanity is different from the gods in how we reflect upon our lot. Gods are very one-pointed in desire, whereas humans are capable of being multi-faceted.

For some reason, melancholic or sad music resonates much more deeply than upbeat or casual music. It’s not that the music is necessarily better, but sadness and melancholy are such potent emotional nerves. Sad music is so strong, like these feelings are closer to the “source of emotions” or the “emotional generator” or some such nonsense. Not a good place to be astrally obsessed with, hee hee!

(It’s interesting, that emotional states correspond to different parts of the body. When something gets you “right in the gut” it’s prolly ‘coz the second chakra pertains to the gut or lower abdomen, water, the color blue, and feelings of sadness and vulnerability…)

Every musician has melancholic moments. If they don’t, they’ve got nothing to say artistically. The problem is that most artists, musicians, people in general, don’t have very profound melancholy. True melancholy does not necessarily have to do with giving up, being miserable or in pain, but with the fact that despite one’s efforts, impermanence sweeps all things away. It reminds one of the great god Brahma, a being whose existence is far beyond our feeble mortal receptors. Our entire cosmos is merely a single one of his/her dreams. And yet, even Brahma must pass away in time.

When we think of the “music of the spheres” or the “laughter of the immortals” (or anything else mentioned by Hermann Hesse in Steppenwolf) on the surface it describes some kind of spiritual triumph. But beauty, and eternity, and that laughter, is all of the revelation of cosmic romance, the dual wings of happiness and melancholy, in the most condensed experience possible. It’s like, the pure experience of the fabric of reality is the finest, most concentrated bliss and sadness, so entwined that they no longer can be discerned from one another.