Sound Dreaming CD Blog Posts - Day 6

And now it’s Day 6 in the 13 day CD Concert Countdown. For those of you reading these countdown postings for the first time, what my intention has been is to write each day about a different piece that will be performed at the concert. Since there are only 7 pieces in the concert, I’m also including relevant topics to the CD music. Today’s piece is entitled “Temple Muses” which is based on improvised vocal recordings I made at the Ggantija temples located on the island of Gozo, part of Malta. Malta is a small island in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily. Even though the Muse tradition originates in Greece, I chose this title of Temple Muses for this piece because the name ‘muse’ can also refer to a source of inspiration, a close-by companion who guides and supports the creative flow of ideas and juices. That’s exactly the experience I had at Ggantija.

Last night I had great fun presenting a few of the CD pieces at the local Soundhackers meetup. During the question period afterwards, someone asked me how long I improvised for when I was at one of the sites. I hedged a bit on that, and so today I was thinking about it, and the answer that came to me was: ‘as long as it takes’.

When I was in Gozo, I was fortunate to live for a month very close to the Ggantija temples in a small town called Marselforn in a flat just steps away from the sea. Being so close to the temples meant I could visit many times and get there early enough before the tourists arrived so that I could have my private time to connect and do the vocal improvisations without interruption. Because I was able to spend so much time there, I developed a much deeper intimacy with the place than in other places I visited. During the process of collecting quite a substantial series of vocal improvisations there, it seemed that each time I visited, a new presence, or vocal character with definite and specific qualities of sound would show up. That’s why it felt like I was having a deep sound conversation with the “temple muses” of Ggantija.

In the Greek tradition, there were/are nine muses, each with their own name and representing different artistic spheres or artistic qualities: erotic and lyric poetry, tragedy and comedy, hymns and choral song, etc. It was common practice for artists, writers, and orators to invoke the muses before beginning to write or perform for example, calling for help or inspiration, or simply inviting the Muse to sing or speak through them.

As I continue to develop my own relationship with the earth and ancient sites, I’ve noticed that those moments when I’m really connected and take the time to drop into my breath and belly, I can feel the gravitational force of the earth pulling me down. I think one of the first times I experienced that in a big way was at Ggantija. I had been invited into one of the little apse areas of the smaller temple, and my companion and I were intentionally tuning in to sense whatever memories we could possibly tune into. As I did so, I found myself experiencing a huge pull down down into the earth, and so I let my body drop into a squatting position, as if giving birth. Everything went black, and somehow I was transported into a place of no time, no place, just a visceral sense of the earth’s magnetic force and how it dwells within my body.

From similar experiences I have had subsequently, I notice that this seems to happen with the most intensity when I’m in a place where the earth energy is particularly strong, whether that be because of the ley lines present (which are like meridian or energy lines in the earth’s body), or because past history has built up a resonant field that can be felt and tuned into. What actually occurred in that temple area so many millennia ago is not so important to know, I feel. That the earth remembers and opens up a space for deeper communion there tells me that she is alive and sentient.

This past summer I had an experience in a workshop with composer Pauline Oliveros where we collectively experienced/performed her piece entitled ‘Extreme Slow Walk’. Walking extremely slowly by moving consciously from the heel to toe areas of our feet, we were invited into a place of Deep Listening (Pauline’s signature work) to not only the soundscape of the environment, but also to listen to and feel the earth frequency of 7.83 HZ vibrating through our feet, while sensing the pull of gravity on our bodies and the electromagnetic field of the earth. Although we were in a local urban park, I definitely traveled back to that timeless place. The soundscape was alive, as my body gradually slowed down and tuned itself to the earth. Afterwards Pauline observed that the whole environment was responding to our group’s listening with the vibrant sounds of birds, people and animals, while the winds picked up and animated themselves through the swaying trees.

This type of attunement and walking presence is something I’m continuing to cultivate in combination with sounding to the earth. This level of attunement to the body, the voice and the body of the earth will be at the core of the Spiral Path Pilgrimage I’m co-leading with Sarah Hoskin Clymer this coming summer in Cornwall, England. (June 23-July4).

Getting back to GGantija, whose name translates as “Giants’ Tower’: The picture I’ve posted today is of that special spot where I experienced the magnetic pull of the earth. It’s an invitation for you to find time to slow down and attune with the earth in your own unique way, whether that be through walking, listening, sounding, or any other way ‘of the muse’. 

Posted 333 weeks ago

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