The genesis of They

The acappella ‘canticle' of mine called They represents the work I've been engaged on ‘in the darkness’ for the last decade. The text began as a dictation in the lucid period after waking. Later I set it to music for double choir, which is a uniquely beautiful combo that allows for antiphonal effects. The last part is the best fun. Nobody has ever written for voices exactly like this, and it’s tremendously demanding. It would take state-of-the-art session singers to bring it off - especially at its great length, about 17’ - but I know that it is performable. All I can show is a synth demo which provides a simulacrum of the effect. But in this and other work there lies, I believe, great healing which is partly musical & partly the result of people co-vibing as choral demands – and when the world is ready for it, it will emerge.

I see myself as a humble brick-layer working on a tiny aspect of a vast design of which I can make neither head nor tail; but this is my assigned position & all that is required of me is to do it with my best craftsmanship. When we talked about the requirement for art to engage with people, I thought about my own position - or rather lack of it. When I was young I thought I could be both Moses & Aaron - but actually all I was doing was working from my monkey mind. What emerged from it may notve been too bad but it hadn’t been encoded with the power of spirit – WITS with the ‘innergy’ or vertu of allowing the unconscious or Self to speak unmediated by mere rationality. This I believe to be the true rebirth of which Christ speaks to Nicodemus in the first chapter of John, and is (in one form or another) the core teaching of all faith traditions and Jung.

It was a blind instinctive search for this inner reality that impelled me to jump from the moving train 22 years ago; and is what I found - where it can only be found - in the wilderness. It has taught me that there is a necessary distinction between the function of a Merlin or a Moses, and that of an Arthur or Aaron. The introvert world a seer must develop cannot cope with the pressures of the extravert world that the leader must necessarily inhabit: yet for one to set the pasSWORD & the other to crack it both must glimpse something of each other’s milieu - and in that ‘marriage’ of complementarity is wholeness created, which cannot exist otherhow since no single person can encompass their full circumference.

On the one hand, I'm frustrated that I cannot make my music heard - & believe me I've tried - but the time simply isn't ready for it. My youthful response was to adopt other voices & pass myself off as a member of the great unwashed simply in order to gain access to the zeitgeist. To a degree I succeeded, but then I realised the wind was beginning to change (as Casanova says: I had reached the point where fortune no longer smiles on men) & I would be stuck for eternity with a face that wasn’t my own.

The bit that torments me, is that I could be completely deluded & what I write really is rubbish & as totally irrelevant everyonelse thinks it is. But then I listen to something like Ives’ Concord Sonata or Housatonic at Stockbridge, and think ‘yes everybody thought this was rubbish too’ until Bernstein decoded his spiritual vision & made sense of it for his contemporaries. As far as is known Ives never actually heard his own music performed, but for the arrow a composer fires into the night sky performance is where it falls to earth. That’s what everyonelse witnesses: the first part they know nothing about. 

What I so much admire about what my dauter Sefa has done is that at some level she knows all this stuff. To a young person, being understood and accepted as part of a group is almost the raison d’art, and the fact that Sefa’s had the courage to grit it out and learn to stand in her own truth /voice is an astonishing achievement: and it’s thrilling that after a long and tricky path people are really beginning to respond.


To the parent of a young musician

I don’t think B will be the kind of musician conventional teaching can help. She's very musical but in musical academe music reading is the be-all & end-all; and I don’t think she's ever going to find that easy. In any case I suspect her whole interest is geared towards popular music, and around here I haven’t discovered a single school I know of with a music department with the staff or attitude capable of taking her in that direction.

So where to go? Apart from the Brit School in Croydon & LIPA in Liverpool I don’t of anywhere that offers the popular music equivalent of Wells. Most of the major public schools do now have proper recording studios etc but we'd be talking about the £33k+ bracket, and I'm afraid B isn't yet in the scholarship bracket.
The problem is one of demand: popular music doesn’t lend itself to academicism, ergo most people do it in spite of not because of school (which is really just as it should be!), ergo schools aren't geared up to offer it. Where there is a high standard of music it will generally be because there is a far-sighted HofM who has made it his life’s work to develop a virtuous circle by picking good teachers (& paying them properly) who in turn attract talented pupils who win awards thereby raising the school’s reputation and so retaining the excellent teachers. But even this can be ruined in two years if the school appoints an eejit as a replacement.
There are more choices at VIth form. And it may be that B is better off staying where she is now, but planning ahead for where she wants to go in (… do they now call it?) Year 13. There used to be a super music course at Andover FE, run by a guy who went on to become H of Kb at the RNCM, but when he left they appointed a deadhead & so it went back to being averagely rubbish.
But even if you think you’ve found somewhere suitable it’s not easy. I'll tell you a true story. Someone I know had an attractive & bright personality but utterly unacademic son, so after struggling at a number of schools where regardless of expense he managed a couple of GCSEs at most, my friend sent him to a private so-called technology college. At the end of the first year his parents were called to see the Head, who very politely asked them not to send the boy back for the second year as he was predicted to get no A levels, and the school couldn’t afford to see its OFSTED ratings dragged down. So be warned, it aint easy no matter how much you pay!  

I see all this with incredulity & can't imagine just how out of touch with the needs of young these so-called professionals can be? The real problem tho is that educrats everywhere are mesmerised by ‘solutions’, namely imposed curriculums & constant quantification. It could be different but just about every government (& this one more than most) believes that the answer to educational ‘standards’ is to rain new initiatives down on schools on a weekly basis and terrorise the very people who, if given a free hand, would improve children’s education. 
There simply isn't an answer that I can see, unless you're fortunate enough to live near a good school. Maybe we’re near the high water mark of this strange exam-mania? 

If one is the only one marching in step it’s hard to work out why noonelse is! But it just seems to be this herd phenomenon in human nature (last seen in the bankers) that as long as everyone’s all wrong at the same time then noone is to blame, and ’noone’ could have foreseen disaster looming. I just think we're stoking a social timebomb by failing to understand the needs of kids & forcing them throu an educational system which prescribes the hoops they must all jump throu uniformly, yet deprives them of the opportunity to take personal responsibility for actually doing so. I just try to help those who come to me to develop their uniqueness so that it helps them to find themselves. That’s what I can't forgive conventional education for failing to do.  
I rant like this because I constantly think: it really can't be that hard to get it right if you look in the right direction - & yet apparently it is, especially since the world is looking in completely the wrong direction at the present time! But mutatis mutandis!

My observation of B is that she is 'too willing' accept goals set by others. For her to consider any sort of career as a musician she would need to be able to evolve & meet her own goals. For instance, altho we are struggling with & will doubtless master our current piece - which will have a valuable effect on her piano technique; she needs simultaneously to begin to think entirely outside such boxes. I don’t see much evidence that she has begun to do that, & that above anything will come to define her ‘will to self-realise’. That’s the bit we need to make grow if she's to do anything more than fanny about with music. But it’s impossible to force this without adverse consequences.

The important thing to remember is that every plant unfolds at its own rate. Nowadays we have a neurotic obsession that everyone has to accomplish everything at least 2(0) years before they're ready to. S is 31, and it’s taken her 10 years of an exiguous existence after college where she won prizes as a classical performer to evolve into the persona that is now being feted. All the time we'd nag at her about constantly running out of money & getting into scrapes, yet turning down the sort of work she that couldve made her a reasonable living in the background: but she would say ‘you just have to trust me.’  And because we both understand the process we did.

The heart knows its own joys best, nor can another share its sorrows. If that sentence doesn’t resonate for a creative artist, then they probably aren't one. Even the crudest entertainer must have something of the need to seek validation of hir inner world by expressing it to others & getting some kind of response. No amount of book learning provides this: indeed it probably suppresses it. But that’s what needs to precede anything.

What interests me is that all these questions which appear to be merely educational are, in the broadest sense, spiritual. WITS that they are about imaginative or non-materialistic reality: and that is the desperate loss in contemporary education - that humans are more than a quantisation of their productive capacity.