Category: <span>Music</span>

Tanpura - WikipediaIt was midnight of the third day when the chanting ended.  Jan 1, 2008.  We’d been at it, 2 hours on and 4 hours off, around the clock. After the first 24 hours I felt myself slipping into an altered state that felt amazing.  For the entire 3 days, the chant never left my mind…there was no room for discursive thinking, worrying, obsessing, analyzing, wondering,. There was no past, no future, just the chant. …there were no thoughts…just the chant…   Looking it up for the first time I discover that the moon was conjunct natal neptune/ketu.  It feels good to *know* that.

I was one of the musicians alternating between harmonium and tamboura.  This was my first time on a harmonium for ‘performance’ and I was nervous about that.  The tamboura however was sheer joy for the memories it brought up.  Years before I accompanied a local sitar player with his gig at the nearby Indian restaurant.  He needed the droning of a tamboura to play his best. He had one and taught me how to play it.   Loving all stringed instruments I was eager to learn and quickly mastered these 4 strings.

The tamboura I was handed at Kripalu was an entirely different instrument.  Little did I know that tamboura’s could be female, like the one I learned on, or male, like this gigantic gourd that was bigger than me!     The powerful, resonant, droning sound could project throughout the entire Main Chapel at Kripalu with only the most gentle touch.  I’m in trouble I thought, for I always err towards loud.

I was grateful for the time we spent together earlier getting to know each other, learning the chant, practicing with the instruments, and rehearsing the ‘changing of the chanters/musicians’ from one shift to another. Although I had received many invitations to join this team, I was only able to participate twice due to family responsibilities

I remember the first meeting of our team.  We sat in a circle on  dusty pink velour cushions and listened to Bhavani & Atma lay out the program and how it was going to work.  After time spent on the logistics, Bhavani brought out the instruments and introduced the chant.  I can still feel my excitement at being one of the musicians.   Although the Sanskrit was short and simple to say, the melody was difficult.  It required good breath control, along with some notes that were hard for me.  I was really impressed with those on the team that were the lead chanters and yearned for a voice as beautiful as theirs.

Over the course of the next three days we would chant Om Nimah Shivaya in Swami Kripalu’s chapel.    It was my favorite room in the whole building with it’s soft pink carpet and cushions.  The light wooden paneled wall behind the riser was rounded.   In one corner was a supply closet hidden behind a wooden door that matched the paneling.  On the other side was the space that housed the artifacts from Swami Kripalu’s time in the USA.  This was also the room where Amrit Desai, the founding Guru of Kripalu Center, would have his most intimate gatherings, I supposed.

On the last night, without missing a beat or a syllable, we moved ourselves to the expansive Main Chapel on the 2nd floor.   The backdrop to the riser we were sitting on displayed a huge OM symbol. Behind the OM backdrop is a mosaic left behind by the Jesuits who previously owned the property   The alcoves on both sides were open with the a/v station on the left.  I am sure that it looks very different today.

Everyone from the surrounding area of Lenox was invited for the final 2 hours of live chant and they began arriving soon after we began.  Slowly the room filled while all 20+ of us, all dressed in white chanted away.  I was grateful not to be the tamboura player for that last session as I was so high from bliss using a “gentle touch” would have been impossible.

There were easily 500 people on the floor in front of us all chanting and swaying away.  I saw thefamiliar faces of teachers, mentors, fellow students, and strangers that I have come to love in my years there.  The entire room was one with the chant.  You could feel it.  Everywhere.  Surrounded by sound & vibrations.

And then,

finally,

we chanted the final Om.

I understand now how “Silence is deafening”.

I don’t have the words to describe the exquisite experience of those silent minutes.  I don’t remember how long it lasted.  It might’ve been 2 or 20 minutes?  Time stopped.  Tears streamed down my face adding to sensory experience of this silence.  It became easy to understand the devotional Bhakti path if this was the reward for practice.  Of course, I had been immersed in it for 72 hours, not 2, a realization that took some time to comprehend.

Eventually, the sounds of bodies moving and voices whispering spread throughout the room.  Most of the audience had only joined in for 2 hours and maybe occasionally during the 3 days in the other chapel.  I wondered if they were feeling what I was feeling.  There was no way to know.

It didn’t take too long for the holiday cacophony to erupt.  It was New Year’s Eve and the kitchen had prepared a feast that everyone was eager to partake.  I didn’t have a bite.  Even though I hadn’t eaten much that day, I was filled up with something that left no room for food.

The next day, we met again to say goodbye and share our experience of that year’s Saptah.  After the hugs I floated out of the building and made my way back home, a 4 hour drive.

 

This year Bhavani & Atma will be leading the Saptah Chant on Zoom & on Facebook.  I’m excited to participate in this way!  I don’t have a tamboura or a harmonium, so I’ll use my harp & a drum for some musical accompaniment.  The chant itself is a difficult one and requires a lot of practice to do it well.  At least that’s how I felt about it 10 years ago.  That said, the melody has never left my mind even though I haven’t heard it anywhere since that night in the Main Chapel.

I’m not sure how long they’ll keep the Facebook link live.  There may be some issues around “recording” this particular melody?  That said, I’d recommend to those who are serious about their seeking to keep the chant on repeat until the clock strikes midnight of 2021.  Om Nimah Shivaya.  Jai Bhagwan.  Jai Gurudev.  Namaste.

Blogging journal entry Music Teachers Yoga

img_1946  SUNDAY, OCT 9, 2016 

1:30 pm

East Brunswick Public Library, 2 Civic Center Drive. NJ

 I’ve attended the Harper’s Escape weekend intensive maybe 6 times, and now that I’ve finally gotten the ‘hang’ of it, it’s ending.  After 25 years Kathy, the director, and one of my most favorite teachers,  is retiring this event.  So sad.  But, I do understand.    The details above is for the final public concert that completes the weekend event.  I’ll be there and, it’s free.  Come!  It’s always a full house so get there early for a good seat, not that it matters.

 

 

harpdoodle-001Taking up the harp at 50 changed my life brain.  Switching from piano to harp as my primary musical instrument was a learning curve that proved frustrating, challenging, and incredibly rewarding.  More on that another time.  Suffice it to say, 8 fingers on 36 strings, re-wired my brain in ways only a yogi could understand….or a brain scientist.

Next year Kathy is taking a group to Ireland!  OMG.  For those who know me,  you know how much I want to go on that trip!aran-islands-inisheer-001  In August, 2002 my daughter and I traveled there and searched for all-things-harp for 2 weeks. We landed in Shannon and made our way to  Galway during  the big horse race event. We journeyed thru dense fog to Inisheer, one of the  Aran Islands.  We drove on the wrong right long straight road running from the west coast all the way to way to Dublin. The only harp I found was  in a glass case at Trinity Library and I wrote about it here. Of course there were images of harps on coins and beer cans everywhere, but, no harp music anywhere.  Still, the music we did find was damn good!  Money is tight right now so maybe I’ll crowdfund the trip?  If everyone I know/love could send me $5. I bet that might get me there!  I’ll be happy to entertain you all with my harp when I return.

Just kidding….

 

 

Anyway, Wally, a Camac Aziliz, (who I still want to swap/sell/trade  for a Fisher) needs some serious tuning after a hot, humid summer and weeks of neglect.  But, he’ll sing next weekend at the Harpers Escape for sure.

wallyalone

 Learning to play the harp, and developing a repetoire that suits me and my abilities has been so much fun.  It’s taken me to places both musical and geographical that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. I am blessed.

Here’s a story I wrote about one such experience.  It happened in July, 2007.

Come to this concert….your heart will thank you. 

                                                                    May all beings feel love.  willaangelina-001

 

Blogging Doodles Harp My photos StoryTelling

5 stars from me!  a must see…. touched me in too many ways to count.
Ah….the road(s) not traveled……..     Om shanti.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music philosophy sound/music therapy Teachers

Heading to the NJ State Folk Festival this weekend where I’ll see one of my favorite harp teachers.  I’m really excited to hear some current folk music.   It’s been a while.   As a “baby-boomer-extraordinaire” I spent countless hours listening to people like Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, and Tim something?……   It’s a maritime theme this year and I just attended a local photowalk and took these pictures (scroll down) experimenting with b/w in the fog. I rarely spend time around boats so the sychronicity is hard to ignore.

Music touches and heals us like no other activity. It’s A Documented Truth. Playing instruments, singing songs, or listening to others play and sing lights up our brain cells and activates the neural plasticity that is being written about so frequently now.

That yod I mentioned yesterday….it’s energizing my Sun in ways that are amazing to experience…physically, mentally, and most obvious (to me) synchronistically.   Does that make sense?  It’s hard to verbalize.

Time to go learn Row, Row, Row your Boat on my harp……

Jai Bhagwan…..

[gm album=14 module=minima]

 

Blogging books digital photography Harp Music My photos NJ The Jersey Shore

Just opened an account @ soundcloud….they’ve really simplified all the uploading and downloading so  amateur people like me can share some music…….

So, here’s the tune The Factory Girl, at least part of it…..    I tried to really slow it down and use very few notes so that you can feel the “bones of the song”.   Story at 2pm.    ……told under the auspices of a disseminating moon

Om shanti.

 

 

 

Harp StoryTelling The Jersey Shore

I’ve been practicing dagdasharp.my story for Tellebration 2014 and excited to present it.  I’ll be telling more about Dagda  and adding a nice bit of harping to the telling. Dagda is the god of the bards and his lineage connects him to the fairy realm of Ireland.  He’s a comical figure, visually, but still immensely powerful.  His primary tool for the magic he weaves is his harp.  Besides composing the sounds of nature, and keeping the seasons in order, he’s also credited with the establishment of the Three Noble Strains, lament, merriment, & lullabye.    I have lots of ‘merriment’ & ‘lullabye’ in my repetoire, however I did not have any ‘lament’s or sad songs.  I guess that means I don’t qualify as a bard……yet.  So, I’ve been searching for sad across the internet and settled in on T.  O’Carolan’s,  Clergy’s Lamentation.

It takes a lot to learn a new piece so I’ve been carrying this tune around in my head for days.  It is a sad tune…..  unless I play it fast, and then it’s positively danceable.  And so it goes.  I did some googling around though and found these 2 articles.  You might want to check them out.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/opinion/sunday/why-we-like-sad-music.html

http://boingboing.net/2014/11/06/we-listen-to-sad-music-to-feel.html

 

Oh! and, Venus moves into Sagittarius just as our show begins….isn’t that just perfect.

Om shanti, shanti, shantihi.

 

Ancient Wisdom Harp Music StoryTelling

Well, I am simply filled to the brim with joy and gratitude for last weekend’s Harper’s Escape.  It was fabulous and I promise to gift myself more harp events.  Meanwhile, last week I  also learned how to lightly edit an audio file and upload it to the internet.  I know it’s no big deal anymore to do that, but for me this feels really cool!   Uh oh…..I do see  YouTube in my future!  Uranus is flooding my chart right now  with ‘breakthrough energy’ so this seems like a good way to use it.

That said,  here is a piece of my harp practice that will certainly make you smile if you can hang in there for a few minutes.   I’m not posting this piece necessarily for the music…..  it’s about the birds and it’s worth a listen.  Promise.   The first 30 seconds are just me talking as I set the levers on the harp preparing to practice and warm up my hands.    (Recorded on my ipod)

 

 

Harp Music sound/music therapy StoryTelling

I’m registered onwally croppedce again for the Harper’s Escape! I’ve attended it maybe 4 other times and it’s never failed to rejuvenate my soul. Oh, and my harp playing gets a little bit better too. The faculty will be different this year which is disappointing and exciting both.  I will miss Grainne and her family.  Watching the little ones dance to harp & fiddle is a sight to behold.

I wrote a post back in 2009 after attending what was my 2nd (?) escape…… it’s  right here if you’re interested.

On Friday night we meet in a circle and go around and everyone plays something…..or not.   It’s a challenging moment for sure.  I’m wondering about sharing a short story with harp accompaniment……?    Dagda’s Harp comes immediately to mind, as does “Sam Clam”.  Fortunately, I have had some recent experiences storytelling so my usual jitters might be calmer…..we’ll see.

On Sunday we perform as a group at the local library where we play all the songs that we all just learned on Saturday…..it’s a humbling experience for this amateur musician!

I’m excited to be attending and look forward to learning some new tunes…..

 

Harp NJ StoryTelling

…..and I for one will be glad to see the population shrink back down to us locals.

The upcoming Storytelling Festival, of which I am a part, is featuring stories about New Jersey.  We have been a state for 350 years.  States have horoscopes also, in case you did not know that.   My personal NJ story is as old as I am, being a lifelong resident of this small, crowded, but beautiful state.   I have many stories to tell, and choosing the right one(s) for this event is a daunting task.

more later.

 

Blogging Harp StoryTelling

 

The_BardI went to another storytelling event this Sunday and brought my harp.  Just in case.  This is all quite new to me, especially the part around playing the harp in public.  It’s a funny thing, because I’m really not as shy as I am as when I have my harp with me for storytelling.  Does that make any sense?

Anyway, I’m getting over it all and really having fun sharing tunes & stories with whomever will politely listen.  I don’t need applause.  My ego disappeared a saturn cycle ago.

This time I wove together a personal story (which is actually written up here) along with the ancient Celtic myth of  Daghda and his magical harp.  Ancient people understood the power of music and story and I’m thrilled to explore this journey of the bard with a group of  talented storyteller’s.

My application to tell a story at the NJ Storyteller’s Festival on Sept. 21 was accepted!  The details for the event are here if you’re in or near NJ.

I haven’t put my story together yet for that event even though I had to describe it on the application. I wrote:

A HOME-GROWN YOGINI
Challenging times are when wants, needs, wishes and responsibilities collide. This is a personal tale of struggle, renewal & transformation as experienced using Yoga, Astrology, Feng Shui and the Harp. 

Hmmm.  It shouldn’t be hard to put that story together at all!  But, telling my personal  ‘story’, in ‘public’, as ‘entertainment’?  Oh well.  It’s all good.    Om shanti.    May all beings be peaceful.

Love this painting!  “The Bard” by John Martin – http://www.wga.hu/cgi-bin/highlight.cgi?file=html/m/martin/bard.html&find=bard. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Bard.jpg#mediaviewer/File:The_Bard.jpg

Ancient Wisdom Harp StoryTelling