The PlanetShifter.com Interview with Composer Alan Tower - Founder of Green Music Network
Alan Tower has created a didjeridu duo album unlike anything else available musically, as well as being created in service to the indigenous peoples of the world, bearing witness to the earth's vanishing ethnosphere. He is seeking a record label for this project that connects with the intention behind it, and the didjeridu as a sacred ancient and modern instrument used in a compostional way while spotlighting these amazing musicians and their contributions.
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What makes the Green Music Network a "Network?"
Well one thing is in our newsletters we promote other musicians concerts and related artistic endeavors who are in this loosely based community/network. We connect artists with each other and connect people from one realm of interest - resonance based music with another e.g. Kirtan. A membership program has not surfaced in our work yet. It could, but we see our work as community based grass roots - with concerts held in the homes of hosts who sponsor our event, as well as yoga studios and one therapists office gathering space. We do have two larger venues we program, the amazing Hawk Hill Tunnel as part of the Cave Concert series and the gorgeous UCSF conference center we partner with. Some people say it's working. We are hiring two staff this week so to enable growth. As the leader I am more a musician composer and so not particularly skilled in how to grow an organization.
How many active members do you have and what collaboration occurs online?
Again, no members per se but that might change as we expand. We use Facebook under the name Natural Resonance. What we are about is direct experiences of resonance for shifting consciousness - transformation through sound - so our mode is generally not primarily electronic interface for collaboration, other than for connecting with others and using it as a tool for developing something together that ends up as direct experiences of resonance. We have about 3,000 on our mailing list and developing partnerships regularly with other orgs to mutually benefit our missions.
Can anyone show up and gig at your events?
Now that is a cool question. Not as of yet. It sparks some ideas that we have never explored. This is because our focus is on instruments and the sound of resonance, rather than focusing on the western equal tempered tuning system (plenty of musicians and advocates there!) This approach takes a certain musicianship around a direction not as common, keeping to a small community the musicians and groups we present. That could change as well but not real likely.
Sonically, a cave is a highly reverbative place, an often cold space. Are you "playing" in the past Alan? Why?
Another way cool question. Lets see, hmmmm . . . . highly reverberant yes, but when you put 300 people in there the reverb almost disappears due to the bodies absorbing the sound waves between ceiling and floor. Over the past 7 years it has been cold, warm and medium temp but I think you mean in the area of feeling. Our lighting designer, John Coveney has evolved it to the point the cave is gorgeous and has a very warm ancient feeling - see photos
The Hawk Hill Tunnel past is about preparation for war. It was designed as a pass through so the big gun turrets could be in position to fire 7 miles out to sea at the Japanese. We have transformed it with sound such that people have had experiences of oneness, experiences of being the water in their own bodies. It has evolved, mostly on its own (we just started putting language to it) as "an environment that calls forth being". Similar in a way to what, in my view, is at the core intention of Burning Man. When you arrive at Burning Man what you hear is "welcome home". Coming into the cave has that feeling for some.
It would seem at first look that The Resonant Body Chamber must have some values and structure. All art is judged.The Resonant Body Experience is a kind of creative anarchy then? How do you know when it starts and stops Alan?!
This question seems to be borne out of not experiencing what RBE is yet. It's an experience of entering a river of resonance, producing resonance in your own body. Its not about ideas or concepts. This is what it is in a nutshell:
Singing long tones over a drone in our acoustic chamber your body will have a direct experience of natural resonance. It's fun, fulfilling and there are countless directions the practice can take us. The Resonant Body System is a reliable method for remembering who we truly are. The experiences can become a guide for living life with more freedom, in the present, more open to the mystery and to each other. It also provides a pathway to the holy grail for musicians for knowing where we are, through hearing & playing in tune.
"Once our physical body tastes the nectar of natural resonance, a crack begins to open for an experience of resonance with all life . . . of being source of our own life . . . of being source of the life of others."
Robyn Hitchcock told me that music is a form of alchemy - perhaps an invisible attempt to alter people's moods. Your reactions?
Sounds right to me. All form comes from a secret code embedded in vibration. Everything is in ever constant movement, vibration every moment. Alexander Lauterwasser, another hero, is a scientist mystic showing how visually, physically - this is coming about every moment of creation. He does this through the casting of sound waves (in the beginning was The Word) upon water (the most primordial substance of life) . . . what is created are truly gorgeous Mandela, fractal like images, Leopard spots, Turtle shells et al. Our world of form in other words.
There is no competing scientific theory for how our worldly forms come into being. We(I) am about resonance as a way of life because its at the core of our world, ourselves and how we came to be. What would our world be without sound, music? Mood alteration for sure as you mention. But that's just one vector of so many. Dréa Drury's response to this same question in one of your previous interviews is just wonderful, insightful and with great heart.
Do you write and/or experience music based on your dreams?
No. Mark Deutsch is the one talk about that with. He is a master dream journey guy. The idea for the Bazantar came through a dream. One of the most astonishing instruments and musicians of this millennium.
His level of sound architecture is akin to the creativity and inspiration of Gaudi, the architect most inspired by organic natural form in the history of that discipline.
Hero. Define yours? Are you a hero?
For me a hero is someone who is so deeply in service that whatever his or her form of work or creativity is, it comes from that place. There is power both in the art, and being in service - this intersection. A hero has an obvious awareness of the larger picture. Malcolm Gladwell
is a hero of mine. Peter Gabriel another. Andy Goldsworthy in a different way. Brian Swimme, Allaudin Mathieu, Ken Wilber, my wife Nika.
I really hope I am a hero for some in the world, and I want them to be hero's for others who become hero's for others. Its like when l learned about my "default intention" (what is the core intention driving ones actions in the world?) from another hero of mine, Anurag Gupta, of The Difference Engine business group?) It is often hidden from us. Turns out it was "Do the right thing for safety, or just for its own sake". 50 years of this dissolved away as I became aware of it and he then had me develop my "sourceful intention" as a new way of being, in its place. Source is his term for the great mystery, god, the essence of existence. Over time my "sourceful intention" evolved to, "Leave'em lit up . . to their own light .. . as Source itself, to light up others"
That's a long roundabout to the beginning thought about hoping for hero's who become hero's who become hero's for others in a ever widening spiral. Or it could be viewed as a mobius strip reconnecting back on itself as an energy form in the world.
What are the sounds from pre-history? Do you sample nature?
Interesting odd sort of question here. The sounds of creation, the birds, wind, the trees predate human awareness of course. We came along and were the first species to shiver with wonder at this symphony. The first humans created sound probably for curiosity, beauty, or just because it was possible. These sounds were probably hard objects being hit together, the human voice, the Australian dreamtime sound of the Yidaki
(didjeridu), the flute made of bone just discovered a few months ago maybe 35,000 years old. Pretty cool stuff. I don't sample if you mean as in the electronic process accessed through keyboard or computer.
The hero I mentioned before, Anurag Gupta, is a force of nature. I was saying goodbye after a retreat and "Thanks for being a force of nature" just spontaneously popped out of my mouth. So we see nature as this creative force in our lives, and some let that drift to the background amidst our busy urban lives, while others can't live without wild things.
My sampling of nature takes place in finding and developing new instruments out of burnt earth (clay huaca), agave/carbon fiber stalks (didjeridu's), the resonance of a unique nitrogen fixated metal chamber called the Hang, and in creating an acoustic chamber for folks to sing low prime ratios tones (we do this cosmologically intuitively, neurologically), over a Shruti Box drone.
What is Gaia? Do we see/hear this force in the eastside of East Oakland?
James Lovelock proposed this hypothesis which became a theory . . . an integral being, a living earth that exhibits fundamentally what we know, from both a scientific and ancient cultural wisdom that everything is connected as one whole . . . "Nothing is itself without everything else" (Brian Swimme
In 1983 I wrote a guitar piece called Gaia using a cool resonant open tuning basing it on Lovelock's initial work. The playing style I learned from Michael Hedges, two hand independent tapping. My life and music were transformed to an ecological perspective with Lovelock's work, and further through that of a Miriam Teresa MacGillis talk called, The Fate of Earth.
At the quantum level "entanglement" is a truly astonishing principle that is accepted as hard science but many scientists just try to ignore it, as its so bizarre and not of this world, not of our direct experience. But there it is, shimmering its beauty, beckoning us to enter, for a transformation of consciousness. No, the eastside is one of just a few places that . . . just kidding.
"In the realm of psychoacoustics, the terms music, sound, frequency, and vibration are essentially interchangeable, because they are different approximations of the same essence." What is this essence? How does this force heal?
(PS.com interview Event Circle with Dréa Drury
, Music is the most extroverted form of this vibrational essence you mention. We are vibration itself. We are the secret brought to consciousness.
How does the transformative effect of intoned sutras work? Does one need to be initiated in some way to benefit?
Not in my experience. I lead Kirtan
and write Kirtan sutras and have had only one camp with Jai Uttal and just a year or so of immersion in the Bhakti world. Its all about intention. Mark Deutsch taught me that one initially. Bhakti is a window into Source. Singing to source as source is what its about. The myths and stories behind the words are wonderful - the trials and tribulations of Krisha, Ram, Sita, Hanuman et al carry with them an ancient lineage of intention, connection and also reflect our human condition.
That's why we organize a monthly Kirtan series cause it's the other side of the Natural Resonance coin (sound on one side which is its own story and experience), and on the other the warmth of the human heart through Hindi words and myths - an experience through singing in community as one to the Divine, as the Divine itself.
Is there only one way to engage the chakras? Or, are there stimuli and reactions on via multiple channels? How do you do it?
I don't do it. I don't know much about chakras. So far I apprehend chakra as a label. My two current teachers Allaudin Mathieu and Mark Deutsch have spent lots of time getting me to understand that the names of things do not provide inherent meaning or understanding. We think we know something more about something when we give it a name. Of course I have great respect for anyone working with intention to facilitate wholeness of experience. Its just not my approach, chakras. I want to create environments that call forth being through creating ways that people can produce resonance themselves in their own bodies. Developing or inventing tools for this is my passion. The less I need to say or refer to names the better. The SoundStone of Klaus and Hannes Fessman
is my next major focus and will be a part of the Resonance Institute. Also playing these instruments of resonance for people in concert settings is the love I bring.
I explained to Steve Kilbey of the Church that their new release is like "painting with sound." Feedback on this?
That's interesting. No feedback comes to mind right now.
Are you a Green Man? How does your spirituality weave sustainability, music and politics?
I think the answer comes about in some of the previous responses. I once had a scent created specifically for me back in the 90's by an artist whose life was about creating essences - aromatherapy it was called at the time. It came to me in the mail and the title of the potion was Green Man!
Do you see sustainability as a new religion?
No, not really. Both of those words, those concepts, I don't think will continue to resonate on a deep level as our species evolves (unless it can't anymore because the lungs of Gaia can't breathe, or the blood of Gaia can't support fish, unless Gaia just can't support us anymore). To me "sustainability" is a not so interesting general word, what might it even be in real terms? The Sun becomes a red giant in 5 billion years. The Earth then vaporizes. Its got half of its life to go and then we go. Nothing is truly sustainable, though the term has been a quite useful concept.
I remember telling a bunch of recreation professionals (I used to be one) at a conference talk in the late 80's to keep their eye on this new notion of "sustainability". They had not come across this at the time. I said it was going to be the key concept of our modern age. Well I think it has been a very useful one for a time, but may have seen its day. There is something out there, I don't have a clue what it is, that is deeper with more life power that will supplant sustainability as a idea form to catalyze a generation. Bring it on. Religion, oh sheesh, that would take a few more pages.
I am launching a group to develop a physical space, A Resonance Institute - for research, workshops and concerts. The vision behind it is:
Where science, art, earth and spirit meet for direct experiences of resonance as a way of life
If I had one, I guess the above would my religion. I hope lots of amazing people join me.