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.

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