June 4, 2018
This is a quick post to let everyone know that I will be singing and playing weekly at the newly opened Riverfront Café in Petaluma. The restaurant is located at 224 B St. I will be appearing every Tuesday from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. Please be in touch for more information. Thanks very much!
#casamontalvoguitars #thomastikinfeldstrings #textualchordophonics
November 20, 2017
The following post is urgent. For most of us, the current living conditions for Yemenis are unimaginable. With the recent blockade on basic supplies entering Yemen, things have taken a turn for the worse.
In response to such horrors, I am calling on all of you reading this to donate at least $5.00 USD to the SavetheChildren.org campaign for Yemen, or any other fundraising effort to aid the people of Yemen. Email me a screenshot of your confirmed donation (or some such proof), and I will send you some of my recorded music—a combination of voice and seven-string guitar on 11 tracks of quality audio. Hope to see messages from all of you!
#casamontalvoguitars #thomastikinfeldstrings #textualchordophonics
August 31, 2017
I would like to share a track that caught my ear today: "Wait Up" by Q-Tip, from the album Amplified. Additionally, I will say that all of the music I share and participate in comes from my positivity and heartfelt hope for a fulfilling life for all humankind. God Bless.
Just a heads up that the Yoga class accompanied by Indian Classical Music has been postponed. Please check back in October. Thanks!
In the context of a Yoga practice, music is most certainly being realized in a functional way. This post provides some background information on the music that will be supporting a special Yoga class at Renew Yoga in Petaluma, California, USA on August 5, 2017, from 6:00 to 7:15 pm. Through Raag Hamasadhwani, I will be offering a unique synthesis of North and South Indian styles rendered in a personalized yet traditional fashion.
An Indian raag may be briefly defined as a refined melodic formula through which a musician brings to life specific theoretical constructs and expressive qualities. Those who are present for the live music at the upcoming class will be hearing Raag Hamasadhwani at the right time, literally. Along with portraying various types of mythological and humanly emotive symbolism, raags are assigned to specific times of day. According to renowned North Indian musical education institute ITC Sangeet Research Academy, Hamasadhwani is typically played between 6:00 and 8:00 pm (http://www.itcsra.org/SamayRaga.aspx).
It is also notable that many have identified Raag Hamasadhwani to be particularly suited to compositions in praise of the Hindu god Ganesh. Another aspect of the function of this raag is present in the custom of employing it to begin a concert on the Indian instrument called veena. This is no real surprise because Ganesh, as the lord both of obstacles and of their destruction, is often invoked at the outset of an endeavor.
Master veena player Jayanthi Kumaresh has shown that the connotation of the word "hamasadhwani" bears the utmost importance within the history of the veena, namely its significance as the "song of the swan." In both Hindu and Western astrological systems, the constellation Swaathi, or Cygnus, depicts a swan. Near the swan, one finds the shape of a lyre, a stringed instrument common to both Hindu and Greek cultures of ancient times. The Hindu goddess Saraswathi is often depicted playing a veena while sitting upon a swan. (See Jayanthi Kumaresh, "Analytical Study of Different Banis & Techniques of Playing the Saraswathi Veena," doctoral dissertation [University of Mysore, 2005], 18). In Western cosmology, the same region of the night sky is associated with Orpheus, the master musician. Thus, Raag Hamasadhwani may be said to be especially potent in a spiritual sense.
I hope this brief exposition of some characteristics of Raag Hamasadhwani has piqued your interest, and I hope you enjoy hearing my musical accompaniment to your Yoga should you attend the class. Thank you.
#TextualChordophonics #LarsRosager #CasaMontalvoGuitars #ThomastikInfeldStrings
I would like to take a few moments at the start of this Chinese New Year to celebrate cultural plurality through the acknowledgement of world history's various approaches to the calendar. Cyclical conceptions of time pervade, but are also inherently difficult for human beings. Owing in part to the fact that each one of us experiences life through a body that matures and dies, decaying into what can only be explained in material terms as nothingness, people may tend to find references to a cyclical notion of time unconvincing. No one has ever returned to some point in the past to repeat or amend his or her experience of a given period of time. Meantime, not everyone feels compelled to honor the fantastical astrologer speaking metaphysical murkiness.
The truth is, no time cycle is without linear motion. The idea that the universe is never in the same state twice is a large-scale illustration of the matter at hand. With this is mind, time becomes more like a sine wave, an interaction between clearly observable cycles and irreversible linear motion. Many are familiar the "lunar year" whose new beginning many Chinese and other East Asian people celebrated on January 28, 2017. The cycle of twelve animals is also a well-known aspect of the tradition. However, it is rarely explicit that solar cycles are integral to the many variants of what are commonly called lunar years.
The sun has more to do with lunar calendars than just making the moon visible to earthbound humans. The solstices and equinoxes mark divisions of the year as it is experienced through the cycle of the seasons. These points in the solar cycle may be used to determine a beginning of the lunar year. In the Chinese system, this starting point usually falls near the midpoint between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox. In a system of my own devising (if there are other traditions that parallel my thinking, then I am yet unaware of them), I have come to the conclusion that the first new moon after the vernal equinox marks the beginning of the lunisolar year. For related ideas, see the Textual Chordophonics blog post from September 23, 2016.
Taking a more anagogical approach, the more astrologically minded are able to relate the intertwining lunar and solar cycles with the human condition. This is a clear example of the classical notion of macrocosm-microcosm. The sun marks crucial points of the year, namely with regard to temperature, light, and other immediately perceptible conditions on earth. The moon may seem to be more of a random factor, but also holds important relationships to natural cycles that are close to the human experience.
Prior to the modern business calendar, much of the human understanding of time and timekeeping was defined by the relationship between the sun and the moon. The presiding astrological thinking as it has developed up until now sees the sun as essentially a forward-moving agent, a representative of initiative and long-suffering commitment. The moon has come to signify a much more mysterious side of human affairs, being associated with work behind the scenes, psychic fields, and the innermost reaches of the soul. Thus, the sun relates to linear time in its capacity to define one's outward presentation of oneself. The moon, in contrast, is associated more with the comforts of home, where one can hide from the outside world and retreat to the customs and routines—cycles!—with which one is most familiar.
I hope this brief discussion is inspiring to those looking to balance their brave, exploratory sides with components of their personalities that act in more measured, conservative ways. May you find the best approaches to building skills, finding your talents, and fitting your work into the fabric of our ever-evolving world. All comments are encouraged. Thank you.
Image credit: http://www.positivehealth.com/img/img/image-article/b78320/heatherB.gif
This blog post continues on the topic of fertility and creative energy within the construct of the zodiac. See my blog post from 09/17/2016 for the first post on this subject. The comments to this earlier post are useful as well. Before, I touched upon the perfect unison and the perfect octave, the ratios 1:1 and 2:1, respectively. Here, I explore the perfect fifth, expressed in ratio form as 3:2.
First of all, it is useful to note that, in cultures across the globe, the perfect fifth is considered to possess a high degree of stability. In fact, its consonance is widely seen to be second only to the perfect octave. One way in which this manifests within an astrological context is the elemental agreement between two
signs 120 and/or 240 degrees apart.
Image credit: https://www.twolittlefleas.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/hindu-zodiac.png
The ratio 3:2 signifies, in music, a length of string or pipe divided into three equal parts; the length equivalent to two of these three parts vibrates. The traditional theory of astrological aspects (angles, angels?) calls the 120-degree aspect "trine." Referring to the image of the zodiac above, one may find that this trine aspect connects Aries at nine o'clock (the ram) to Leo at one o'clock (the lion). One may be tempted to read the traits of the perfect fifth into only the trine, but it is essential to realize that the vibrating portion of the string or pipe would actually correspond to the larger angle, the 240 degrees from Leo clockwise to Aries. This information could be interpreted by an astrologer in a number of ways.
Elemental agreement is the most salient characteristic of the relationship between signs 120 and/or 240 degrees apart. Aries and Leo are both fire signs; as is Sagitarrius, which is found at six o'clock (the archer). Considering the fact that these are all the fire signs of the zodiac, and that there are always 120 degrees from one to the next, one begins to understand why astrology has considered the trine to be an inherently harmonious aspect. The trine signifies a smooth, comfortable relationship.
With regard to how this might translate into a symbol of fertility, one might look into how each successive sign of a single element demonstrates maturation. Continuing with the example of the three fire signs, one could investigate the maturation of the self. The three iterations of the four earthly elements are, in part, representatives of firstly, the individual; secondly, the one-on-one relationship; and thirdly, the group interaction.
The trailblazer Aries commences the first of the three phases. The competitor Leo commences the second. Gregarious Sagittarius commences the third. Perhaps most directly related to fertility and birth is that which takes place from Sagittarius to Aries. This transition crosses the Pisces-Aries cusp, a point representative of the vernal equinox as well as of sunrise. It is transcendence and regeneration, transformation of the spirit.
As the elemental progression of group interaction (the signs from Sagittarius through Pisces) comes to a close, the Sagittarius-Aries trine marks a reconsideration of the self in light of collective experience. This is surely a marker of just how crucial it is to reach out to one's community in service as well as in receptive modes. The give-and-take of social consciousness brings the fullest manifestations of one's own potential.
It is necessary here to entertain the notion that the perfect fifth is related more closely to an angle spanning from Leo to Aries, skipping Sagittarius in a sense. But is anything really skipped here? How might one relate the 240-degree aspect to fertility? Briefly, I propose that the association of Leo with one-on-one relationships reaches across the regenerative Pisces-Aries cusp into Aries, the so-called baby of the zodiac. The imagery is quite literally fertile; the meeting of two individuals progresses into a nascent presentation of the self.
What role does Sagittarius have to play here? The duality of Leo leads ultimately to the freshness of Aries, but one must not forget that this process passes through Sagittarius. Thus, one might argue that Sagittarius here represents marriage. Weddings and life partnership have long been consecrated with spiritual or religious ceremonies, so this interpretation would not be far off mark. Sagittarius is typically associated with higher learning and spiritualized thought.
As the initiator of the elemental progression of group interaction, Sagittarius has other roles to play in the progression from Leo to Aries. It is linked to familial matters, perhaps relatives involved in making the pregnancy happy and healthy. The relationship between parent(s) and doctor further solidifies the interpretation presented here. The service-oriented human being is integral to so much of the spiritual consciousness of the world; as parents find ways to provide for their child(ren), the image of the active and community-minded, fully matured adult possesses, in this case, a Sagittarian likeness.
The manner in which I have illustrated zodiacal fertility in this post need not be restricted to procreation in a literal sense. The tripartite manifestations of each element all have much to offer. It would be a pleasure to discuss these topics with you further! Look out for my next blog post on this theme, which will focus on the perfect fourth, the ratio 4:3.
I would like to share some thoughts on the processes of birth within the system of the tropical zodiac. To be sure, the sidereal systems exhibit these ideas to a certain extent. However, I find that the manners in which the zodiac may be considered as essentially a fertile and birth-oriented system is most easily construed through the tropical arrangement. The tropical zodiac is also quite accessible to a contemporary layman in that it aligns to some extent with the Gregorian calendar.
This blog post does not aim toward an exhaustive treatment of the idea that the tropical zodiac presents multiple symbols of birth and regeneration. I will simply present a few examples of the notion and follow with some brief analogical explanation involving music. In the interest of organization and logic, as well as to provide a mathematically sound exposition, I will move from the most general to the most detailed.
A tour through all twelve signs of the zodiac from Aries to Pisces has traditionally illustrated a process beginning in birth (spring) and ending in death (winter, though Pisces arguably covers part of the spring season also). Most spiritual traditions figuratively, if not literally, entertain one or another interpretation of renewal as the result of symbolic or actual physical death. In this sense, following the unimpeded circular motion of the zodiac as a celestial calendar, one easily observes the inevitable life-after-death symbolism inherent in the completion of a journey through the twelve signs. The net effect is that of returning to the point of origin with a different perspective.
A parallel in music would be the concept of the interval of a perfect unison. One might imagine a single string being plucked twice in succession. Though the pitch is identical both times, attached to the second articulation of the note comes a comparison with the first. Nothing in the universe is exactly the same twice, if only by the simple explanation that an original statement's reiteration occupies an entirely new temporal space. To be more firm in terms of portraying rebirth, one might ponder the unison as the same note sung by two different voices. 360 degrees of the zodiac's circular system corresponds to the musical interval of a perfect unison.
The image at the top of this post depicts a zodiac moving clockwise from Aries at nine o'clock to Cancer at twelve o'clock, and so on (this particular image of the zodiac is skewed slightly counter-clockwise, but is still effective in the following explanation). Find Pisces, identified by two fish occupying eight o'clock to nine o'clock, and Virgo, the sign diametrically opposed to Pisces and represented visually by female figure, actually what has been established as a virgin reaping the fall harvest. These two signs are in opposition, or separated by 180 degrees of the zodiacal circle. Here, it is instructive to recall the Christian story of the virgin birth, which has, believe it or not, been identified as a rehashing of pre-Christian mythology. The Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, is born of a virgin. Pisces, a sign identified with water (e.g., the waters of the womb), leads into Aries, which is represented by a lamb (i.e., sacrificial lamb, spring sacrifice).
If one were to imagine that a diametric line was drawn from Virgo to Pisces, and then this line were turned so that each end point moved clockwise one sign, the line would reach from Aries to Libra. Now, instead of symbolism indicating analytical thought and earthly efficiency (Virgo) as well as the watery womb and the transcendental processes and mysteries of death (Pisces), one notes the essence of the 180-degree opposition is a statement of new life and self-motivating originality (Aries) across from the sign of justice, balance, and relationships between two individuals (Libra). Entrenched in this thinking is the concept of generation via conflict, or synthesis by way of opposing forces. Seen in terms of the sun's journey through the seasons, the descent through Virgo into Libra marks the autumnal equinox. The mirror image is the sun's ascent through Pisces into Aries at the vernal equinox. Thus, provided one holds, for the moment, to studying the signs in diametrically opposed pairs, the progression from Virgo into Libra brings the progression from Pisces into Aries.
I find it interesting to note that for all that seems to mark the contrasts between the opposing signs, there are significant unifying constants. Many have identified the male-female, positive-negative, or electric-magnetic alternation exhibited by the signs starting from Aries. Following this logic, all opposing signs share the same quality—Virgo and Pisces are both female, negative, magnetic and Aries and Libra are both male, positive, electric. According to the theory stating that, beginning with Aries, the signs follow the pattern cardinal, fixed, mutable, one finds that opposing signs share the same quality in this regard as well. Virgo and Pisces are both mutable, while Aries and Libra are both cardinal. Most astrologers agree that an opposition signifies a tension that must be resolved. Another way to think of this is the idea that the opposing signs, planets, houses, etc. have no choice but to confront each other; they are literally confronting each other, geometrically speaking. Thus, they may well be considered as a non-matching pair, but a pair that must achieve some sort of harmonious resolution to a conflict.
Think of the zodiac stretched out on a string, the first segment of the string being Aries and the last being Pisces. As I alluded to above, a full revolution around the zodiac is obviously 360 degrees, or the entire string. Diametric oppositions represent half of the journey, so half of the string. Holding any string at the halfway point and plucking it results in a pitch one octave higher than the pitch produced by plucking the full string length. Thus, the opposition relates to the musical interval of a perfect octave.
As you can see, this sort of analysis is both involved and potentially immense in scope. One natural phenomenon indispensable to the project of seeing the zodiac as being innately fertile is the overtone series, which can be related back to early music theorists and their experiments with the division of the string that brought about modern tuning theory. If you would like me to write more on this topic and continue with the various divisions of the zodiac in a manner similar to that found above, please just let me know. I would be happy continue the exploration little by little. Trust me when I say it is a lifelong process, but it is also great practice finding ways to relate these ideas in brief! Thank you.
As we in the Catholic tradition have been taught, humanity has deviated from the Word of God. We are all sinners; yet, it is apparent to all that textual ordinances are subordinate to "real-life" (i.e., non-textual) experiences. This generalization is supported by the definition of the New Covenant itself, that its essence reveals itself upon looking inward and finding faith in one's own heart.
One example of the primacy of real-time spirituality may be observed in the following hypothetical situation. John Doe is suddenly informed that a certain table inside his furniture store is wired with explosives. He is now faced with saving the lives of those working at or shopping in the store, or saving his own. Either way, he may arguably be seen to stray from Catholic doctrine.
Taking his own life, his chances of eternal salvation are in jeopardy because suicide is a grave sin. Doe's situation could possibly be seen as a case of righteous martyrdom, but Catholic martyrs might typically be seen as having given their lives for the Faith or some far-reaching moral cause. Much more might be said on this matter, but can one rule out the risks of an interpretation that implicates Doe in committing suicide? Allowing the other human beings to perish, he falls under moral scrutiny in that Catholicism provide strict instructions not to kill.
What to do? Assuming choosing one option will inevitably lead to death, either the death of Doe or that of the surrounding persons, the dilemma weighs heavily. And yet, modern Catholicism is not without an answer. If it is not a perfect answer, at least it saves Doe from irreversible damnation. The case of Doe is merely an attempt to illustrate the wider issue of how to handle situations in which one finds oneself at a real-time moral impasse to which Catholicism provides no easy answer.
On the topic of conscience, Catholic initiation at St. Anne of the Sunset in San Francisco California, USA has taught me and at least one other person, who shall remain anonymous, that as long as one allows one's conscience to be formed by—not necessarily conformed to—Church teaching, then it is one's own conscience, indeed one's own heart, that supersedes the documented Law. This being the case, the Church de facto, though perhaps not very overtly de verbo, recognizes a grey area within the composite body of scripture, decree, and practice.
I have not investigated this sort of doctrinal reference to an independent conscience among other parishes, so for now, the reader will have to settle for this potentially, but not very probably, isolated case. As a side note, let it be known that the gift shop of St. Anne sells rosaries fashioned from birthstones, which is in my opinion a valid clue toward the Church's acceptance of personalized spirituality. Crystal science has often been linked to astrology.
Moving to a more universal concept of language, it is worth mentioning ancient and modern definitions of language itself. Those concerned with wisdom and true reasoning have often thought of language in terms of relaying experience(s). In a more contemporary vein, language may be defined more along the lines of the process of organizing one's own thoughts, arguably very personal experiences unto themselves. The notion of language gives way to a praxis that is limited, meaning that language is a second sight of the primary phenomenon by which it is inspired. This is wholly true at least in terms of the written record. While the notion that thought might exist independently of language is a topic of intense inquiry, one cannot propose that language is the initial experience per se.
So the reader is presented with one of the principal issues of philosophy, the tensions between individual and collective existence. While Catholicism is not shy to impart moral ideals, this religion also provides a possible solution to the problems arising from situations in which the same moral ideals are simply impossible to fulfill. The doctrine itself attempts to compensate for those who do not follow it unwaveringly. There are more aspects to the case of Doe, for example the notion of martyrdom as a noble cause (alluded to above), or the instinctual reaction to save oneself as a function of the human being's natural will to survive.
In sum, the fact is that the Word has to have come after its inspiration. The prophets or, permitting an even more supernatural view, even God would have had a point of reference to which the Law continually returns. Some sort of human or divine thought, experience, or spirituo-emotional revelation has occurred before the record was written. Logic will lead one to believe, then, that making room for the variable that is the human heart was of prime concern. It is the inexplicable that one attempts to explain, the spirit that manifests in form. In this light, the humanly heart-and-soul–oriented teachings of Jesus do not reject established truths, but return to a primary source. When one is able to ponder the initial event language attempts to express—instead of getting caught in confused absolutisms on that which is posterior to language—only then will one make real philosophical progress.
Lars Christian Rosager