If The World Is Sound, What World Is Your Music Creating?

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DO YOU NEED TO BE A MUSICIAN TO PRODUCE MUSIC?

A big shout out to IMSTA, the International Music Software Trade Association, that put on a free trade show this Saturday September 6, 2014 at Ryerson University School of Media in Toronto. Full of fun facts, helpful workshops and informative product displays and demos, it was packed with music industry players. Audio engineer and music producer Young Guru, most known for his Grammy Award winning work in 2011 on “Empire State of Mind” with Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, gave his opening keynote speech in a standing-room-only, bustling auditorium.

One of the panel workshops I attended was on electronic dance music (EDM). Early into the discussion, the MC tried to summarize the points made by panelists by saying you don’t need to know anything about music to be a music producer. I almost fell off my chair.

My intently waving hand shot straight up as I exclaimed: “I passionately disagree!” Being in the front row, I took the mike and shared my thoughts:

  • It is easy to identify music that is compositionally unsound
  • We need to be boundlessly creative in all art forms
  • We must respect the laws of nature that apply to all art forms, including music
  • Picasso said that it took his whole life to learn to draw like a child – in other words, his freedom of expression was based on a lifetime of study, practice and technical mastery

As I write this blog posting, I note that even WikiHow suggests learning a musical instrument and musical theory as the very first step in becoming a music producer.

I also enjoyed Ian Shepherd’s remark on Production Advice:

“The term ‘music producer’ means different things to different people. Some are musicians, some are engineers, some are remixers. So what does a music producer actually do?

In very pragmatic terms, the producer is a ‘project manager’ for the recording, mixing and mastering process. She has an overall vision for the music, the sound and the goals of the project, and brings a unique perspective to inspire, assist and sometimes provoke the artists.

The producer should make the record more than the sum of its parts – you could almost say she is trying to create musical alchemy.”

At IMSTA, as one of the panelists responded with openhearted agreement to my share, I sensed that most of the attendees did not know what I was talking about. After all, what does Picasso have to do with EDM?

CREATIVITY, TECHNOLOGY AND CULTURE

My memories of being at university were different from sitting in this auditorium in chairs with flip-up desks. I graduated from the University of Waterloo School of Architecture, which prided itself on a three-part approach to art education: design, technology, and cultural history. We learned how to imagine new works creatively, build new pieces soundly, and understand how they fit culturally.

I realized that most in the room had not been so lucky. I had after all attended an elite program that was harder to get into than med school. The MC’s comment, my response to it and the fog that hovered through the room afterwards showed me that we need to talk about creativity, technology and cultural history in the arena of electronic music. Such knowledge not only gives us creative power but also respect for our environment and each other. It opens a dialogue among colleagues. It supports evolution.

I remember my father coming home from working in his graphic design studio saying he could not find skilled help because students were learning to design without knowing typography – how different fonts were made, how they work and why. They could simply download a font and make it look “cool” without understanding design technique. This issue exists in all art forms today, as technology makes it possible for anyone to call himself or herself a graphic designer, a musician or a music producer.

Offers to buy into new technology fill our inboxes daily. Though these tools can free us creatively, it seems that the speed of technological advances encourages us to consume at the expense of well-rounded growth. Technology, when not balanced with natural laws, feeds our human tendency for greed rather than our human potential to evolve.

DIGITAL MUSIC, ADD & GMOS: MILLENNIALS AND OUR ESSENTIAL CONNECTION WITH NATURE

In an auditorium brimming with Millennials, I thought of this generation that is often ungrounded, out of body, having grown up using technology to communicate rather than through human contact and interaction. In addition to digital music creation and production, Millennials have also seen the rise of autism and ADD, the birth of genetically modified foods, and the alarming increase of the climate crisis. The speed of technology is challenging our essential harmony with nature. Our harmony with nature is essential not for poetic or sentimental reasons, but because our very survival depends on our strong connection with nature.

As I watched the panelists continue their discussion in front of a projected image of Toronto, I fantasized about a cityscape designed by aspiring architects without basic respect for the laws of nature. Boundlessly creative building shapes and sizes would turn to goop without structurally sound inroads, or simply fall if disrespecting our adherence to gravity. In a world of short-lived musical hits as lasting classics fade, are we trusting technology at the expense of sound musical structure, turning sounds into formless, moment-pleasing collages while overlooking our connection to nature?

Ask any astrophysicist or cymatic scientist (one who studies the science of sound) and he or she will tell you that the universe is not dissonant, but conspires to extraordinary harmony. Modern science now tells us what ancient sages knew thousands of years ago: the universe is created and sustained by sound.

The cliché image of the opera singer’s voice shattering glass easily points to how we, as musicians and producers, have the power to literally create and destroy. In the field of sound therapy, modern research illustrates this by proving that some music encourages plant growth, while other music kills plant life. Cymatics also show that certain beats, such as the stopped anapestic beat often used in popular music, interfere with brainwave patterns causing mental stress and can become physically addictive. So I am left asking, since our world is literally sound, what world is our music creating?

Next time you turn to create your beats or tunes, ask yourself that question. May you be inspired by a fresh new place, one that is connected to nature and your beautiful, unaffected self, one that leaves you and your listeners feeling rooted, vital and expansive.

If you want to know more about the world as sound, a must have for any musician and anyone interested in sound is the book “The World Is Sound: Nada Brahma: Music and the Landscape of Consciousness” by Joachim-Ernst Berendt.

Perhaps next week we can explore in more depth what Picasso has to do with EDM. In the meantime, please share this blog with your social network and pass it on. I wrote it for anyone and everyone to enjoy. I also welcome your comments below. I would like to hear from you!

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WHY YOGA IN THE NIGHTCLUB

I am often asked what inspired me to bring yogic expression into the club scene. I answer easily. Yoga In the Nightclub is a natural expression of who I am as a musical artist and dedicated yogini. Yoga is not a physical practice but a way of life. It is about learning to be present in all one does, to see the divine here, now, in this moment. As such, yoga is everywhere. It is about feeling connected to something much greater than our limited ego or will. It is about being in service to life, feeling interconnected to that very life force. Yoga In The Nightclub is a celebration of life and a reminder that we can find awakened presence everywhere.

Yoga in the West is mostly known as a series of bendy physical exercises. Yet there is much more to it than fitness. Yoga’s systematic breath and body exercises, designed to clear the subtle channels in our energy system, prepare us for meditation, through which we may experience a life inspired by our interconnected, multidimensional true nature. Our body, that once was seen as “mine”, is no longer our identity, but a gift on loan from the divine. We care for it, but we are not attached to it. The practice of yoga offers us the opportunity to experience the transmutation of matter into pure light, embody the multidimensional and rest in the eternal.

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WE ARE ALL CONNECTED

Hatha yoga, the physical practice of yoga, is just one of many aspects of yoga, which range from selfless service to astrology and prayer. The Sanskrit word “yoga” most simply translates to “union”, implying that the practice of any yoga will bring together our perceived sense of separateness. As a whole, yoga is an ancient science of life. It is a practical method of shedding excess and bringing us back from the self-delusion of separation from the divine so that we may realize our inherent interconnection to and ultimate oneness with it.

As we begin to understand that yoga is everywhere, we come to see how we are all connected in vast ways far beyond the limitations of our personal will and ego. What I do affects you, and vice versa. We are one earth family. At the heart of it all, we share the same heartbeat. Breathe to be. We are one.

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AWAKENED LIVING

When we are open, life blossoms, just as a flower opens to welcome the morning sun.  We see that the sun, though it is millions of light years away, has a tender yet powerful relationship with the flower, as do the rain and the clouds. From this perspective we see that we are part of the whole. Life is a symphonic masterpiece with which, when we are open, we are completely resonant.

As we come to understand our oneness, we can revel in it with wonder and joy. We can consider in awe how immense it all is. We can let go of the idea that an illusory, isolated sense of self could possibly be in control, and open to an exquisite unfolding of life in absolute perfection. Our actions become not about “me” but about the whole. Each moment is integrated within the whole. No one decision is separate.

When we begin to see that each decision we make affects not just ourselves but everyone and everything on the planet, we act with more compassion. When we have more compassion, we realize the impact of our actions and we naturally want less and practice more kindness. As stewards of the Earth, we each are called to learn to live in harmony with ourselves, each other and our planet. We all breathe the same air and live on the same living organism, our planet. Varied in race and creed, we are all one family, children of the same mother, the planet Earth.

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THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GRACE

In each moment, there is infinite grace. By becoming more conscious as we practice yoga on the mat, at work, at play or in the nightclub, we let go of the unnecessary and develop greater internal spaciousness which blooms throughout our lives. In this space new life and possibilities arise.

As we rest our awareness on the simple purity and grace of the breath, we realize - we are alive! We let go of wanting things from the future and the past and open to what is here and now. We feel as vast as the sky and rooted in the richness of this moment.

When we “breathe to be”, we understand our interconnection. We see that we are not the doers but a part of the whole, the same energy that is in the flowers and in the stars. We know that our essence is divine - from which we have come, to which we return.

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WHAT LIGHT GETS YOU THROUGH YOUR DAY?

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PARVATI'S NEW SINGLE - MARCH 2016
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I AM LIGHT

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Let me know how yoga and YEM have touched your life. You can send a link to a video by you if you would like. Comments may be shared on my website if you check the "permission to share" box.
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SHARE YOUR YOGA
I am light!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gone, gone beyond. Oh what awakening!
Gone, gone beyond. Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
I am the light, liquid gold light
I am in delight! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

I am the light (gate gate), liquid gold light (paragate)
I am in delight (gate gate) transforming the night (paragate)

Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Oh what awakening! (paragate) (I am)
Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight
I am light, dancing through the night
I am light, in delight
I am light, dancing through the night

I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (gate gate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (paragate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light

I am light!

© 2015 Parvati Devi
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