Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hari Om Namo Narayana

Hi, this is the final post in the blog I have been writing about about the songs on The Walking Eagle Album.

I know there are several pieces that don't have their own posts, so I will cover them quickly here, as there is really not much story behind any of those pieces:

St. Paul's This is a portion of a long, tenor sax solo. I was thinking about St. Paul's Cathedral in London and how cool it would be to be in that building playing the sax. Not much else to that>

Photon Belt This was another I wrote just a few days before recording. A mellow pattern and a soprano sax improv.

When Simple Times Were More Complex This is another piece written in the hotel in Omaha, played on the penny whistle. End of story.

Astral - A redundant three note pattern and a Peruvian Antara. Simple.

The last song is Hari Om Namo Narayana. Here is the link to listen:

This is an old Sanskrit chant. I don't know if anyone knows how old. It has a beautiful melody, however. The way we played it, I dropped a bar, so that one of the patterns is seven bars long instead of eight, giving it a little imbalance, that I tend to like in music. I think sometimes this gives music a nice, unpredictable aspect that keeps it more interesting.

It starts with the bansuri.

I don't have a very great voice, but I sing it anyway, because I like it. It is almost in tune.

I, at this point would like to challenge my Christian friends not to freak out: Even though this is a Sanskrit chant to Vishnu, I would like to explain a little about Yoga/Hindu beliefs:

Hindus, at least many of them, are not polytheistic. They believe in a single God or source that has many personalities. This is similar to the Christian model of one God, who manifests in many saints, angels, people, animals and so forth.

There are many trinities in Yoga/Hinduism, as there are in Christianity. One is the concept of Creator (Brahma), Sustainer (Vishnu) and Destroyer (Shiva.) The Vishnu personality is the personality that provides stability and predictability to the universe. Krishna is one of the manifestations of Vishnu.

But mostly, I just really like the song. It was a good way to wrap up an album that happened during a time of heightened yoga in my life. This is the eighteenth song on the album. Eighteen is significant: The number 1 represents the singularity of everything. As Buddhists say, "not two" - there are no two things in the universe, only one. The 8, when laid on it's side, signifies the infinite. 18's as well as 108's and 1008's (the zero signifying nothingness) occur all over Yoga and Hinduism. The Bhagavad Gita, the textbook of Yoga, has 18 chapters. Interestingly, The Tao Te Ching, from China, has 81 chapters.

In some ways this song, and this album, marked a coming full-circle for myself and the band. We started as a trio, and this last album was a trio. This album was largely improvised, and captures the old energy of the three of us.

As we embark upon a new project, we are relying more on traditional rhythms and techniques, and are adding a fourth member, as bass player, to our group. The new album is much more scripted, and is a new approach to music for us, after 20 years of playing 'the old way.'

Thanks for your attention!

Sea Breeze

Hello. Here is another entry in the blogs I am writing about the new Walking Eagle CD. This song is Sea Breeze. Here is the link so you can listen while you read:

Sea Breeze is a fusion of two pieces that are almost unrelated, except that they are in the same key. One is a pattern in 4/4 and the other is a pattern in 3/4. I'm not quite sure how we put them together, but the result is kind of cool, if not a little difficult to play. So, we're getting into a 4/4 groove, and the suddenly, we're in a waltz.

These two piece were written during the period, a couple of Christmases ago, when I was listening to a lot of Ralph Towner - even those they don't sound remotely like Ralph, they came out of a time when I was working a lot with the guitar and sitar.

I tried a number of flutes with this, but ultimately used the good, old fashioned, western silver flute... as that is the flute I can play the best.

Like most of the pieces, there was never a written melody to this piece.

Fourth Dimension Ascension Meditation

Here is a draft of a new meditation for Fourth Dimension Ascension I have been working on:

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Everyone has probably heard of or thought of the idea that all is resonance. Resonant frequencies have a huge impact on us. Fear has a resonance, different kinds of love resonate differently, people have a feel about them. When people walk into a room, you can often feel the collective resonance of the people already there. When you listen to a piece of music, it can change your mood, because it changes your resonance.

But these are all our responses to other frequencies that are already out there.

Attunement is the art of choosing your resonant frequency.

Have you noticed how some people seem to change when they meet other people or other situations, while other people seem to make everyone else change to their mood? These people have a strong resonance, and people attune to them quickly.

We can all be that person, by developing confidence in our own resonant frequency, knowing how to get there and how to stay tuned into it.

I recently saw a Bruce Lipton talk where he compared the human body to a TV set. We are the receiver of the signals that are out there. Most of us seem to be channel-surfing quite a bit, where a very few people have picked their program (life's purpose) and are tuned into the right channel.

We can tell if we are not attuned to the right frequency through our emotional guidance. People who are feeling depressed, or burned-out or in a rut are probably feeling this way because they are trying to live on the channel that doesn't fit their vibration.

Sometimes change may involve getting help from a doctor, or acupuncturist, or other health care provider, especially if your negative emotions are severe, or if you have any thoughts of hurting yourself or anyone else.  It can help to change your diet: The Yogis believe that food affects our vibration, and that meats carry heavy vibrations, and especially the fear the animal felt while being slaughtered. Fish have a higher frequency, as they believe they experience less trauma when being caught. Fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts carry the highest, healthiest vibrations. They also believe that the closer the food is connected to the earth and the fresher it is, the higher the frequency it carries.

This corresponds to emotions as negative emotions seem to make us feel heavy and burdened, while higher emotions we most often describe as feeling light, or feeling high.

There are ways we can tune into our own frequency.

One is to start to tune into others' frequencies. While it is important to remember what Oscar Wilde said, "Be yourself, everyone else is taken," it may be a good starting point to look at the people you admire and try to tune into their vibration or frequency. For instance think of and study Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. They have a similar frequency, since MLK was inspired by Gandhi, and he attuned to The Mahatma. People might like to attune to Jesus, or to Muhammad, or Krishna. Or maybe an angel or ascended master.

Think of the beings you would most like to be close to. Read about them, and meditate on them, and try to attune to their frequency.

As you do this, also work on preparing lists of the attributes you would like to most have in yourself, and trying to 'feel' the frequency of these attributes. Meditate on them, think about them, and feel, emotionally, what these things are like.

Chances are the people you would like to emulate probably share many of the attributes you aspire to, and so you will start to find an frequency where all these things come together. This is probably very close to the frequency you should strive to attune to.

As you start to feel this specific feeling of your resonance, or frequency, spend time being with it while you rest, meditate, or wherever you have time to have complete control over your emotions. Then start to remember this feeling, this vibration, when things are 'sucking you in' to thoughts, patterns and feelings you dislike. Like if you are in a situation at work, or with your family, and feel yourself slipping back into depression, or burn-out, take a few minutes, remember the feeling of your frequency, and 'tune in' - attune - to it.

After practicing this for a time, you will develop great confidence in your frequency. Your life's purpose will make more sense, and you will be the person everyone else attunes to when you come in.

I would like to end with a little parable:

A man named Akbar was given a very fine musical instrument with many strings. He immediately and enthusiastically started playing. After a very brief time, his wife noticed that he was striking only one string over and over.

After a few weeks of this, his wife was becoming annoyed at the repetitive sound, and went to her husband, saying "Akbar, why, when you have such a fine instrument with so many strings do you only play the one over and over?"

Akbar replied "Most people play their songs on many strings, because they are searching through all the notes to find the one that is their own. I have found mine."

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Dancing Snakes

Here is the entry about Dancing Snakes, and here is the link so you can listen while you read:

Next to "The Lotus of Mt. Ararat," I think this is my favorite piece on the album.

I wrote this just a few days before recording. It is just a simple bass line.

We recorded the bass line first, along with the drone box (yes, we used an electric tamboura, as my actual tamboura doesn't have a great tone for recording...) After that, I doubled the drone with the didgeridoo.

Dugg added the drums on a clay dumbek.

After all that was done, I attempted to play the melody line on the sitar. I kept trying and trying, and juts couldn't get the sound I wanted. So I went to my old standby, the bansuri.

I play the bansuri a little different than most: My teacher was from Northern India, and so uses the fingering from there, which is 2 fingers down for the root. I have never met another bansuri player who does this. Everyone else seems to use the Southern Indian 3 fingers down for the tonic method.

The benefit of my method is that you can go all the way down to the 4th (MA,) which gives a little more flexibility to the improvisation. On pieces that use a natural ga (major third) you can actually bend down to that note, as well. This piece uses a natural minor scale, so I don't get to do that.

This piece is in E. The E bansuri is just a little big for my hands, so I struggle with it at times, and am glad that there are only a couple of suspect notes in this piece. The bansuri I use most often in in F# (or E for those Southern Indian players...)

I like the energy of this song, too. Dugg and Dick really seem to drive it without rushing it, and we must have had the mics in the right place, because the drum is very intense.

Here is what the bansuri looks like:

And this is the dumbek (one like it, not Dugg's actual one...)

A Confidant of Merlin

A Confidant of Merlin

Here is the link to the song, so you can listen while you read:

This is another piece done on the penny whistle, and written in Omaha, again using sort of a descending pattern.

We started out as a Celtic street band, and there are several songs that sort of have a Celticish flavor to them.

After not playing the penny whistle for quite a number of years, it was fun to pull this one out again. There is a bit of a Northern European tribal feel to many of the pieces on this album.

The penny whistle is meant to play in D major and G major, and has tiny, tiny holes, which makes half-hole playing quite difficult. So, for whatever reason, I almost always find myself playing in D minor with some awkward half-holes. I'm not quite sure why...

Dugg chose to play this piece on the djembe, and has a solo in the middle.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Here is my article about track 6 of the new "Walking Eagle" album.

Here is the link, so you can listen while you read:

Fortitude is an example of a lot of the experimental tracks I mess around with when trying to combine unlikely sounds to come up with something unique and interesting.

This track features the didgeridoo:

This is a "Hicks Stick" aspen didgeridoo made right here in Colorado, that has a great tone.

It also features the khomus, also known as the jaw harp, jew's harp, or any of a number of other names:

I got my first khomus in Junior High School, so I could make funny sounds for a movie we were making. Years later, when I found myself at a music conference in Kyzyl, Tuva, I learned that this was a very legitimate instrument, especially in Central Asia and Siberia, and that there are virtuosos on this instrument. Google Vladiswar Nadishana, if you want to see a true master!

The main other sounds are two styles of Tuvan throat singing, a style of singing more than one note at a time that I studied 20 years ago, and then let go dormant. This recording was made when I was just getting back into some throat singing. The low style is called kagyraa, and the higher style is khoomei.

Dugg added some drums on it to bring it together.

We just thought it would be fun to include some of our more experimental sounds on a CD that is largely pretty tonal.