Composition, Theory and Performance / 2. Music History / 3.
Africana Studies / 5. Philosophy
Hesteria Records & Publishing Company
148 Hagar Court
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
Genesis: Twin Pyramids
Human Spirit - A Love Supreme
Segregation – Africa and India
Blues: One Up, One Down
Music Industry: Interstellar Space
0 - Preface
Music of the Spheres
"... and the whole heaven
to be a musical scale and a number...
The Seven Great Egyptian Hermetic
Principles in an Omni-Dimensional Universe
When on looks at the cosmos, the movement of the
stars and planets, the laws of vibration and rhythm – all perfect and
unchanging – it shows that the cosmic system is working by the law of
music, the law of harmony. Whenever that harmony in the cosmic system is
lacking in any way, then in proportion disasters come about in the
world, and its influence is seen in many destructive forces which
manifests in the world. If there is any principle upon which the whole
of astrological law is based – and the science of magic and mysticism
behind it – it is music.
African-American “Jazz” culture evolved
through a process of creativity, mentorship, fellowship and scholarship.
This book explores those domains of “abstract truth.” If we view the
universe as a unified whole, bound together by vibration of spirit
energy, then we can begin to sense its order.
Maharamayana expresses that
potential this way: “The
moon is one, but on agitated water it produces many reflections.
Similarly ultimate reality is one, yet it appears to be many in a mind
agitated by thoughts.”
What if there was a relationship between
creativity and the Creator; between vibrations of music and those of
particle spins in chemistry? What if a single note contained a
mathematical formula that was the key to countless other universal
phenomena? What if music reflected the world in which it evolves in more
dimensions than a mirror could never capture of an image? What if music
from around the world was just variations of the same dialect? Suppose
that music was capable of healing the body. I think that all of these
possibilities above are true.
To understand the
basic essence of vibrations, balance, polarity and omni-consciousness is
to understand oneself and the connection of spirits to the Creator; so
it is certainly no small feat. The ancient Egyptians summed up many of
the concepts expressed earlier in the book with regards to basic
universal principles whose relevance to out contemplation on spontaneous
composition we want carefully consider. Many spiritualists and
metaphysicians center these principles within our body, mind and spirit
before seeking an understanding of universal “truths” in the external
realm. In fact, focusing of the whole “you” as a nucleus to existence
connects us to the universe at large. The Seven Great Egyptian Hermetic
Principle of Mentalism - "The all is mind: the universe is mental."
Principle of Correspondence - "As above, so below; as below, so above."
Principle of Vibration - "Nothing rests: everything moves: everything
Principle of Polarity - "Everything is dual; everything has poles;
everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same;
opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes
meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled."
Principle of Rhythm - "Everything flows, out and in; everything has its
tides; all things rise and fall; the pendulum swing manifests in
everything; the measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the
swing to the left; rhythm compensates."
Principle of Cause and Effect - "Every cause has its effect; every
effect has its cause; everything happens according to the law; chance is
but a name for law not recognized; there are many planes of causation,
but nothing escapes the law."
7. The Principle of Gender - "Gender is in
everything; everything has its masculine and feminine principles; gender
manifests on all planes."
Artistic innovations come from those who dare to
dream and create unique authentic perspective. Innovators move beyond
the paradigms and limitations of the past. People should never lose
sight of their dreams. Although dreams are modified continually over
time, because life (and the universe) is flexible and we must roll with
the cosmic tide, people must never stop dreaming.
What is Hesterian Musicism? The simplest
definition is usually the best. Hesterian Musicism is the sum total of
my individual and collective explorations of the universe through
music. “Musicism” is a term that I coined several decades ago to
express the ways in which I attempt to apply a holistic approach to
music during my personal musical journey to a general understanding of
the universe. That voyage aspires to elevate Musicism to the spiritual
world. The Creator guides us to greater echelons of possibility.
Therefore, inspiration is the realm within which the Creator acts
through us as an instrument (or vehicle), just as a flute is an
instrument that musicians set in motion with their musical ability and
ideas. That world is one of vision where artists have just to imagine
the possibilities, then follow the path towards the light at the end of
the tunnel. Reverend Deborah L. Johnson
suggested the analogy of Dorothy’s vision of the Land of Oz and her
unwavering journey along the Yellow Brick Road toward her dream of
finding answers and solutions from the Wizard of Oz. She said that,
“vision is a feeling rather than a reaction,” and that keeping dreams
alive involves simply living the life for which we have been innately
A dictionary may tell us that
our perception of something using the visual sense; and that vision is
an image or concept in the imagination. Musicism is not necessarily a
situation where “seeing is believing” since there is often no music or
script to read, compelling the performers and all artists involved to
adopt a willingness to believe in what they are creating collectively in
the absence of the facts or proof that upon which they may ordinarily
rely. In such situations artists must stay focused and believe in
themselves. Johnson pointed out the tremendous difference between sight
and vision. She feels that, when we use only sight, the way that we see
things can limits us to constant struggle because “pain pushes until
vision pulls.” As a consequence, sight can just keep bringing us back to
points of irritation. Thus we make precognitive commitments, where what
we see is predetermined by what we expect. Most people who listen to
music bring predetermined cultural baggage to each musical experience.
Johnson would say that the visionary artist does not let probability
This book is perhaps an abstract verbal way of
explaining what the term means to me in part – beyond the definition
that my music proper provides more eloquently – in terms of gradually
developing my “Love/Ontology” through an exploration of vibration. In is
a compilation of those things learned along a path of vision. Thus,
Musicism is a conscious way to reconcile music with all other vibratory
forces in the universe. This is a study of musical vibration and its
relationship to other systems of vibration throughout the universe.
Therefore, a study of Musicism involves a glimpse at my personal way of
putting music at the center of my soul to view the universe through a
microscope and a telescope; and trying to discover relationships between
all vibrating phenomena. In the pages that follow I will expose readers
to the various ideas that I have contemplated over the years in an
effort to better understand the “Music of the Spheres.” There are few
meaningful conclusions that can be distilled other than the fact that
all things vibrate in systematic ways.
It seemed clear to the Pythagoreans that the
distances between the planets would have the same ratios as the overtone
series produced from the harmonious sounds in a plucked string. The felt
that the solar system consisted of ten spheres revolving in circles
about a central fire, each sphere giving off its own sound frequency the
way projectiles on Earth makes a sound as they move through the
atmosphere. Thus, the closer spheres to the source gave lower tones
while the ones farther away moved faster and, consequently, gave higher
frequencies of sounds. All of these sound of motion combined into a
beautiful harmony referred to as the music of the spheres.
Other notable European philosophers,
mathematicians and astronomers have expressed related ideas. The
Pythagorean idea was picked up by Plato, who in his Republic says
of the cosmos; ". . . Upon each of its circles stood a siren who was
carried round with its movements, uttering the concords of a single
scale," and, in his Timaeus, he describes the circles of
heaven subdivided according to the musical ratios. Around 20 centuries
later, Kepler wrote in his Harmonice Munde (1619) that he wished
"to erect the magnificent edifice of the harmonic system of the
musical scale . . . as God, the Creator Himself, has expressed it in
harmonizing the heavenly motions."
Kepler says later, "I grant you that no sounds
are given forth, but I affirm . . . that the movements of the planets
are modulated according to harmonic proportions."
People throughout the ages have recognized the
connection between music, mathematics, and other universal phenomena.
The Quadrivium is the Pythagoreans division of mathematics into four
groups. It is there that we find a banner that reads, "Harmonia est
discordia concors" or Harmony is discordant concord, propounding
the thesis that harmony results from two unequal intervals drawn from
dissimilar proportions. The diagram shows compasses, suggesting a link
between geometry and music.
This arrangement provided the famous Quadrivium
of knowledge, the four subjects needed for a bachelor's degree in
the Middle Ages. Aristotle said that, "[the Pythagoreans] saw that the
... ratios of musical scales were expressible in numbers [and that] ..
all things seemed to be modeled on numbers, and numbers seemed to be the
first things in the whole of nature, they supposed the elements of
number to be the elements of all things, and the whole heaven to be a
musical scale and a number."
How is “spiritual” generally defined? The
Wikipedia say, “A spiritual is an
song, usually with a
religious text. Originally
these songs are antecedents of the
The terms Negro spiritual, Black spiritual, and
African-American spiritual are all synonyms; in the
the term jubilee was more common (at least among
often called them slave songs). Some musicologists call them
African-American folk songs.”
book “spiritual” derives its flexible and fluid meaning from a
provocative thought that I recently heard an African-American poet
recite (he did not give his name) when I was playing a gig in Berkeley,
California. His rhetorical question (theme) what, “What if there was
only one God?” He then methodically listed the implications of this
possibility and included: no Jesus, no Buddha, no Kristna, no Mohammad,
no religion, no atheists, no Christians, no Jews, no churches, no
synagogues, no greed, no war, no killing, no greed, no nations, no
holidays (but every day’s a holy day), . . . etc. This poem proposed the
complete, focused and ultimate unity through recognizing a single source
(seed, God, Creator) and the peace and harmony that would potentially
bring. Unity brings wholeness, which is holistic. Therefore, my use of
the word “spiritual” suggests examining music in a holistic way that
includes a “double fundaments; the inner self as the microcosmic lens,
and the universe as the macroscopic lens, through which we continually
seek answers to the questions of the nature of vibration, harmony,
creativity and love.
Music is one of the most
multidimensional things in which intimately humans engage, so it should
be investigated in a fashion that pays respect to its full scope. The
purpose of this book is to present ideas about music composition that
both musicians and the general reader can ponder. The content that
follows is not simply a theoretical or practical study of musical
elements written specifically for musicians. Instead it is a comparative
analysis of ideas about creativity, vibration, spiritual influence, and
an array of related concepts that surround music. Composers study,
perform, compose and write their musical theories. Writing about music
involves intellectual and emotional reflection. My books and music are
not intended to challenge existing theories, histories or doctrines.
They simply intend to reflect an individual personal expression of ideas
that evolves from a continued study of the world of music and the
universe in general. Information is presented here in a fashion that is
related to the compositional processes, those that relate to the way we
absorb process and retain information, involving rhapsodic repetition
variations that re-enforce the most essential thematic ideas for the
purposes of their retention.
My first book was on the
music of John Coltrane, since his music had the deepest effect on my
early musical direction and perspective. At the time I felt that the
spontaneous compositions produced in Coltrane’s latest period was rarely
investigated despite its importance to the evolution of “jazz” in the
sixties and beyond. That process afforded me an opportunity to explore
“jazz” in the microcosmic realm, through a close-up investigation of
Coltrane’s music, while considering some of the social forces that
inevitably influence and impact upon the life of a musician and his or
her music. Nonetheless, due to the tremendous depth of Coltrane’s
musical development, I found it impossible to do much better than
scratch the surface. When I discovered his “matrix” I was impressed by
its implications, but I did not feel ready to make any particular
assumptions about its meaning. Arranged much as an astrological chart
is, Coltrane’s matrix (mandala) reflected his exploration of potential
relationships between various forces of the mundane (material) and
arcane (spiritual) worlds. It appeared that he now understood ways to
merge his understanding of the blues matrix with the mathematical
symmetry and cyclical patterns of his own personal musical ideas.
The music of Coltrane’s
various compositions from his final decade (Giant Steps, A Love
Supreme, Impressions, Spiritual, Africa, India, Ascension, Expression,
Interstellar Space, etc.) became guiding lights for the musical
perspectives of many artists. Giant Steps marked both a culminating
point in his study of conventional tonal theory and the beginning of a
new sense of musical freedom. As his vision became increasingly clearer,
and as he collaborated with other artists who were aligned with his
musical direction and vision, his approach to composition gradually
became increasingly more spontaneous. Just as Coltrane gradually moved
toward producing music with only the matrix he and his associates
committed to memory as a mutual score; thus, there seems to have been
little or no notated score for his Interstellar Space, for
times inevitably require the construction of new paradigms.
Twentieth-century technological advances introduced new means of
amplification, sound production and recording capabilities. Electronic
sequencing and notation software eventually created new ways to compose.
Musical symbols, notation and scores in general introduce new processes
and take on new meanings. The limitations and purpose of the musical
score in the nineteenth century moved beyond the confines and parameters
of twenty-first-century scores. Written instructions for tempi, dynamics
and other musical expression were elevated to levels of greater
technical precision with the introduction of digital recording.
Both life and music involve
making choices. People learn in different ways. The purpose of this
study is to consider ways composers express ideas as they observe the
world around them. To create spontaneous art effectively requires
‘presence.’ Musicians must approach the moment with preparation and
direct full attention to the task at hand. Accomplishing this is
natural, but most of us have been socialized to filter everything more
through our logical processes rather than trusting the efficacy of our
This is not a
music theory book. Instead it is a collection of ideas regarding music’s
connection to all other vibrating things. Hopefully, therefore, readers
from a wide spectrum of interests and backgrounds will find elements of
this book useful. Students may find helpful prescriptions for learning
to compose, improvise and arrange, and use the following scales and
patterns to advance their technical facility. “Jazz” evolves through a
myriad of forces on a variety of musical, social and spiritual levels.
Spirituality is a difficult element to qualify and quantify.
Nonetheless, it worthy of some level of consideration in this study,
since a number of “jazz” innovators considered spirituality a dominant
force in their lives and music, as the titles of compositions by Mary
Lou Williams, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, and others suggest. The
content of the chapters that follow is not intended to prescribe musical
formulae for composers and improvisers. Instead, the point is to help
generate a broad range of ideas and encourage creative exploration based
on fundamental musical knowledge. Thus, the much of the following
materials presented represent my subjective musical collection of
contemplations and explorations along a path of perpetual
life evolves from the universal laws of Nature. The evolution of music
began with the multifaceted characteristics of a single tone. The
extended patterns and qualities that radiate from such a tone are
reflective of fundamental patterns that extend throughout the universe.
The overtone series became the initial musical foundation, from which
melodic and harmonic development emerged, just as our bipolar human
orientation and perception of the universe set much of our approaches to
organizing rhythm in motion. Although musical tendencies evolving from
the overtone series became dogmatic musical policies in some cultures,
Nature remains the most reliable source of information for explorers of
musical evolution. Reconciling the rules of sound in Nature with those
social musical procedures, evolved through various theoretical
conclusions adopted worldwide, is a daunting task. Composition
(spontaneous or premeditated) often attempts to evolve organic
“sound-environments” that reflect human thoughts, emotions, experiences,
and other universal ideas and processes stored within our consciousness
and subconscious minds.
formed when a state of equilibrium encounters a disturbance. Most of us
have seen the effect sound has on sand when placed on a thin metal
plate, then exposed to the vibrations of sound. The magical symmetrical
patterns that form suggest that the abstract sound of music has a
measurable and systematic effect on the physical environment. Nothing is
irrelevant in the general scheme of events and phenomena that occur
within the universe. Action yields its consequences, therefore, in a
world of continual tension and release, ebb and flow, yin and yang, and
other forms of polarity that perpetually propels existence forward in an
expanding universe. The theories proposed in this study are based
largely upon harmony that is implied in the overtone series. Music
throughout the world evolved out of an evolving aural understanding of
the harmonic series. Of course every action or theory usually has an
equal and opposing action or theory.
Creativity produces ritual,
emotional and intuitive manifestations, on one end of the spectrum, and
strictly rational works on the other. Of course, these poles are not
mutually exclusive, but music of various world cultures reflects
different kinds of settings. Indian audiences might be insulted by
starts and stops, interrupting music with by verbose explanation that
might occur during a lecture demonstration involving Indian music,
whereas some European cultures are completely comfortable with that
particular mixture. Approaching music as a system of communication that
evolves out of the overtone series tends to produce an open-ended
inquiry that involves a natural application of intuition and
measurement. Conventional music theory in the Western world produce even
divisions of the octave based on a systematic approaches to music.
Individuals and societies can view the world through lenses that perhaps
primarily reflect either a general right-brain or left-brain
orientation. Spontaneous composition is strongest when it combines both
brain realms of thought processing so that intuition and technique
reinforce each other throughout periods of creative production. The
problems that emerge as composers struggle with the forces of polarity,
dynamics, and other musical elements and dimensions are ultimately
resolved once the performance is completed since the outcome then stands
historically as a complete and independent phenomenon. Just as each
person is a complete individual that others can appreciate, dislike or
totally disregard, the same is true of musical composition. Nonetheless,
each composition is validated by the fact each that simply exists. To
varying degrees, someone inevitably appreciates, dislikes or totally
disregards all musical composition.
Of course, there are
intangible qualities of music (and of human perception in general) that
defy analysis? Music can be poetic as it reflects an inner spirit whose
ethereal makeup escapes mathematical of chemical scrutiny. The imprint
created by the range of qualities within each musical tone that Bessie
Smith, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Billie Holiday, or
Thelonious Monk produces are poly-dimensional. Under careful microscopic
analysis, it is clear that all increments of the elements of timbre,
melody, rhythm, texture, harmony, dynamics, form and style that each
artist emits are pregnant with its own distinguished attributes.
Machines have no inner soul or emotions to reflect regardless of their
levels of technical proficiency. Computers can learn but they cannot
feel. Therefore, the spontaneous expression of Coltrane’s saxophone will
always be distinguishable from the spontaneous saxophone sounds a
machine might produce. Tone modulates to produce a range of tension and
release that ranges from the relative smoothness of sine wave flute
timbre to the more anxious, overtone enriched tone of an oboe or
bassoon. Melodies can be active and involve saturated density of motion,
or the can remain meditative and focused upon the isolation of moments,
emotions and ideas.
contains information obtained gradually through meditations,
contemplation, practice and a variety of sources. Most of all, I have
been inspired by the thoughts and deeds of a number of master musicians,
thinkers and mentors whose ideas permeate each of the chapters that
follow. The material is not organized in any sort of standard “theory of
composition”, but it hopefully flows with the same degree of Afrocentric
logic, streams of consciousness and organic structure, as did the
abstract logic of the prime ensembles Miles Davis or John Coltrane.
African-African music informs the listener of some elements of thousands
of years that form the socio-cultural history of Global African music.
African-American artists emphasize content over form so that each poetic
cell of information becomes a cogent message charged with instructive
information and wisdom. Composers don’t write long sets of notes for
each of their compositions. Instead their short titles provide infinite
insight into their lives and music. Charlie Parker’s at once humorous,
tragic and ironic title “Relaxin’ at Camarillo” tells us the
‘who,’ ‘what’ ‘where,’ ‘why’ and ‘how’ of a situation in his life in
three words, if we know how to interpret his descriptive message. Each
tone and nuance of the musical information great musicians produce is
spontaneous composers bring their individuality to their musical output.
Their individual and collective musical personalities shed light on the
process of musical evolution. Thelonious Monk’s tendency to play
simultaneous half steps not only implies the quarter-step between them
but also emphasizes the importance of the dominant sharp-9th
chord (C-E-G-Bb-D#) that opens a window of understanding
into the blues sonority and matrix. For those who imitate rather than
learning to move through a process that leads towards self-discovery,
trumpeter Donald Byrd says that great people explain to those interested
in reproducing music that they should “Do as I do, not what I do.” A few
years ago, at a concert billed as a tribute to John Coltrane in Boston,
imitators spent an entire evening attempting to play ‘like Coltrane.’
When master musician Yusef Lateef came on stage, however, he gave
tribute to ‘Trane by performing one of his own unique composition in a
fresh, expressive and personal voice that emerged from the meditative
stillness of humility and ancestral wisdom.
Music is the mirror of our souls. The
development of music skill that will touch humankind requires tenacity,
dedication, wisdom, humility, compassion and love. I have collected a
few gems from e-mail messages that I have received over the years that
sum up general qualities that elevate individuals to their highest good
that, of course, apply to music as well. Here are a few selected
thoughts from that list:
sort of human emphasizes the good qualities in others, and does not
accentuate the bad. The inferior does the reverse.
When you are
laboring for others let it be with the same zeal as if it were for
glory is lies beyond never falling, but in rising every time we
expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would
perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.
To see the
right and not to do it is cowardice.
speak without modesty will find it difficult to make their words
human thinks always of virtue; the common man thinks of comfort.
you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it."
© Hesteria Records & Publishing Co. 2006
Santa Cruz, California
Copyright 2007 by
Records & Publishing Co.
148 Hagar Court
Santa Cruz, California 95064
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