There is a way to compose music that has such a small amount of material, is introspective, and induces the performer and listener into deep restraint, which at the same time has a paradoxically strong implosive effect on attention. A heightening of attention and also meditative pleasure through the mirror of music. There are parallels with meditation itself, this minimalist approach at slow tempo, to throwing the spotlight back on perception itself.
I hear this particularly in Arvo Part’s and John Tavener’s work, also in Philip Glass’s 1st violin concerto’s slow movement, which could be mistaken for Part. And very strongly in the oh so deep music of the late Jean Catoire, (1923-2005) who steps aside from personal expression to a high degree. These composers all understand how to allow life to animate a still atmosphere.
Why does this implosion happen at low input? It is because we are used to music loading the senses, so when it is reduced to a seeping of expression, our habitual musical libido rushes out, a fountain of intangible music, divorced now from the usual outer senses, to meet life with its fullness despite the music’s introspection. It is how meditation can work, this fullness through emptiness.
On my album “Energy Diamond”, 5 of the 10 tracks feature this phenomenon.
The title piece’s first movement draws out longer and longer lines of slow phrases, they use this incantatory restraint, culminating in the cello reaching lower and lower pitches, with more and more stillness.
The 1st and 3rd movements of my second viola suite also appeal to the inward impulse. They dispense with barlines, leaving the listener to savour only the dialogue of similarities between melodic shapes.
Two movements of my 4th piano suite complete the album, and also inhabit the implosive universe. The first is in a made up exotic mode, very eerie in its steady slowness. The second is a more familiar minor key and is languid, almost stopping repeatedly, giving another dose of implosive spells.
And so the album begins and ends with deep reflection which is overall my homeland musically. Although you will hear very animated music also. The alchemical peace that can pervade music is an energy which shows up when the senses are not filled with sound activity, but gently starved of the familiar so that a deeper energy can grace us:
The feeling of expanse without limit
The state of sleep, utter quiet, total relaxation of focus
Gazing oceanically at the impossibly huge
Playing in vastness, without hope of reaching an edge
The daunting awe of being ever stretched further
Released into unquenchably reaching distance
Still, vast, simple, natural, radiant
Full of its implication, its breathing’s expanse
As space, never empty, attracts worlds, ether and movement
The pulse of limitless life
The psyche at one with enormous force
The breath of gods
Overfilling all the senses
Satiating the soul’s reach
I am grateful to my consistent aficionado Bob Lord for the release of this Navona album.