Following a query from a friend about the tarot and music, I thought I’d re-work series of posts from my old blog that I called Mind-Expanding Discographies, culled from a number of books that I’d been reading on music and spirituality.
The first selection comes from Peter Michael Hamel’s Through Music to the Self (1976), which I first found on the shelves of a composer whose music I was engraving in around 2006. Hamel is, to me, a profound musician and composer, and he succeeded Ligeti as professor of composition Hochschule für Musik und Theater – big boots to fill! Much of his own work is in the a new age/minimalist style, some electronic, some for ensembles such as his group Between.
The book includes a great primer on how to ‘listen’ to Indian classical music, as well as some illuminating material on vowel singing, and a number of meditative exercises and ‘social practice methods’. The discography itself is fairly mainstream (as far as these things go…), but there are a couple of unsung gems in there:
Maurice Ravel: orchestral works and piano pieces.
Alexander Scriabin: ‘Piano Pieces’
Bela Bartók: Violin Concerto 1938; Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta; Second and Third Piano Concertos.
Charles Ives: ‘Five Symphonies’
Olivier Messiaen: ‘Les Corps Glorieux’ for organ; ‘Et exspecto…’ and ‘Colours of the Celestial City’, two orchestral works.
Carl Orff: ‘De Temporum Fine Comoedia’ (G)
Karlheinz Stockhausen: ‘Hymnen’ for orchestra and electronics (G); ‘Stimmung’ for 6 vocalists (G); ‘Mantra’ for two pianos (G).
Karlheinz Stockhausen: ‘Aus den Sieben Tagen’ (G); ‘Goldstaub’ (G)
‘wired’ – Rant, Lewis, Böttner (in boxset ‘Free Improvisation’) (G)
Psychedelic Pop Music
‘Ummagumma’. Double LP by the group Pink Floyd.
‘Karma’, by Pharaoh Sanders (G)
The Musicaphon Bärenreiter UNESCO collection has brought out innumerable and excellent recordings: from Africa, Asia and the whole world. Additionally the following specialities are available:
Tibet: ‘Tantric Rtual’. Gyoto Monastery.
‘Chants Mongols’. Mongolian chanting and folk music.
‘ZEN. Sound and Silence’. Recordings from a Japanese Zen monastery.
Gamelan-music: Boxsets of music from Bali and Java. Indian music:
‘Imrat Khan – Nordindische Ragas live’ (G).
‘Nikhil Banerjee – Nordindische Ragas auf Sitar’ (G).
‘South Indian Vocal and Instrumental Music’.
Music from the Morning of the World (Balinese Gamelan).
Buddhist Chant (Japanese temple ritual). Islamic Liturgy.
A Night at the Taj (Vilayat and Imrat Khan).
A Persian Heritage (Classical music of Iran).
The Ten Graces on the Vina (Music of South India).
Master of the Sarangi (Ram Narayan).
‘Music for Zen-Meditation’ with Tony Scott, clarinet and Japanese musicians.
‘Tibetan Bells’. ‘Buddhist Meditation East-West’. Chants by Tibetan Lamas and electronic mantra-music by P. M. Hamel (G).
‘Karuna Supreme’. Ali Akbar Khan, sarod, and John Handy, alto-saxophone (G).
‘Love Supreme’ and ‘Om’ by John Coltrane.
‘Humus’ by Don Cherry.
Spiritual Pop Music
Third Ear Band: ‘Alchemy’ and ‘4 Elements’
Paul Horn, flute: ‘Inside’.
‘Hesse Between Music’. A ‘poetry-and-music-production’ with texts by Herman Hesse and music by the group Between (G).
Soft Machine: ‘III – Moon in June’.
Electronic Pop Music
Tangerine Dream: ‘Phaedra’ and ‘Rubycon’.
Klaus Schulze: ‘Timewind’ and ‘Irrlicht’ (G).
Michael Hoenig: ‘Hanging Garden Transfer’ (G).
Sacred Pop Music
Popol Vuh: ‘Seligpreisungen’ and ‘Hosianna-Mantra’ (G).
Minimal Music – Periodic Music from the U.S.A.
Terry Riley: ‘A Rainbow in Curved Air’; ‘Happy Ending’; ‘The Persian Surgery Dervishes’.
Steve Reich: ‘Drumming’.
Author’s Own Compositions (all G)
‘HAMEL’, ‘The Voice of Silence’. ‘Einstieg’, ‘And the Waters Opened’, ‘Dharana’, ‘Contemplation’, ‘Nada’, all with the group Between.
The next selection comes from R. J. Stewart’s Music and the Elemental Psyche (1987). Unfortunately I didn’t get on brilliantly with this book when I first read it: I found the system variously arbitrary and simplistic with its constant use of C-major. It is evidently aimed at non-musicians seeking to incorporate simple musical elements into their own practices. However, I’m resolved to read it again soon: possibly it just wasn’t what I was looking for at the time… although the appendices were fairly interesting. Perhaps I also had unrealistic expectations: I spent hours and hours listening to a tape of The Hobbit as a child, read by Nicol Williamson, and Stewart’s beautiful, luminous psaltery playing on the introductory and incidental music has undoubtedly become etched on my own musical soul:
As we are primarily concerned with simple musical calls and tones for practical work, the following recordings are merely a short sample of music on disc or tape that incorporate traditions or inspirational qualities of altered consciousness and enlivened imagination. This list is not definitive, authoritative or in any way superior to any other list; it does not comprise a work-programme, though free-visualisation to selected recordings can be extremely rewarding.
Atrium Musical de Madrid, Music of Ancient Greece, HM 1015.
BBC Records, Chinese Classical Music, REGK 1M.
Baron, Jean and Anneix, Christian, Bombarde et Biniou Koz (traditional Breton music), Arfolk SB 357.
Claddagh, The Drones and the Chanters (traditional Irish piping), CC11.
Dunstable, J., Motets, Hilliard Ensemble, HMV 1467 031.
Gerwig, Walter, Lute Music, J. S. Bach, Oryx BACH 1202.
Gregorian Chant, Ave Maria, Philips Festivo 6570 154.
Hildegard of Bingen, Abbess, A Feather on the Breath of God, Gothic Voices, Hyperion A66039.
Lassus, O., Lagrimi di San Pietro, Consort of Musicke, Oiseau-Lyre DSLO 574.
Scriabin, A., Symphonies 1-3, Melodiya 80030 XHK.
Stewart, R.J., Music and the Elemental Psyche (recordings of R.J. Stewart are available from Sulis Music, BCM Box 3721, London WC1 3XX).
Stewart, R.J., The Fortunate Isle (a suite for psaltery and ensemble).
Stewart, R.J., The Journey to the Underworld/Psaltery Music.
Stewart, R.J., The Unique Sound of the Psaltery.
Stravinsky, I., Le Sacre du Printemps (conducts his work) CBS 72054.
Tantric Rituals, Music of Tibet, Library of Congress Recordings.
Watkins, David, Music for Harp, RCA 5087.
Vaughan Williams, R., A Pastoral Symphony, RCA SB6861 (LSC 3281).
Vaughan Williams, R., The Sons of Light, Lyrita SRCS 125.
The following record labels carry extensive lists of ethnic and unusual music: Ar Hooli, Folkways, Harmonia Mundi, Le Chant du Monde, Lyrichord, Ocara, Rounder and Topic.
Many source recordings of traditional music worldwide are found in the USA Library of Congress, the BBC sound archives and university departments specialising in music, anthropology, folklore and comparative religion.
Finally, a discography from the works of the recently deceased and much missed Nevill Drury. While his book The Shaman and the Magician was essential reading for myself as a teenager, I had no idea that he was an absolute electronic music freak until fairly recently! According to the biographical information for his book Music for Inner Space (1985) he wrote electronic music reviews for both Rolling Stone and Hi-Fi magazine! The book is pretty comprehensive as far as recommendations of kosmische musik for elements, chakras and so on goes, and he also uses theories and techniques from the works of James Hillman and Roberto Assagioli as part of his exercises. To give a flavour of the kind of thing you can expect from the book, here is is psychedelic, kosmische, electronic tarot spread (plus Godley & Creme):
The World: Pink Floyd – ‘Grantchester Meadows’; Klaus Schulze – ‘Ways of Change’.
Judgement: Herbert Joos – ‘Why?’; Japetus – ‘The Great, Great Silence’.
The Sun: Tangerine Dream – ‘Force Majeure’ (last third only).
The Moon: Klaus Schulze – ‘Mindphaser’.
The Star: Klaus Schulze – ‘Crystal Lake’.
The Tower: Godley & Creme – ‘The Flood’.
The Devil: Tangerine Dream – ‘Rubycon Part One’; Rajneesh Foundation musicians – ‘Nadabrahma’.
Death: Tangerine Dream – ‘Through Metamorphic Rocks’.
Temperance: Ash Ra – ‘Ocean of Tenderness’.
The Hanged Man: Fripp & Eno – ‘Wind on Water’.
Justice: Kitaro – ‘Never Let You Go’.
The Wheel of Fortune: Colosseum – ‘Theme Three’; Kitaro – ‘Dreams Like Yesterday’.
The Hermit: Tangerine Dream – ‘Rubycon Part Two’ (first third).
Strength: Tangerine Dream – ‘Rubycon Part Two’ (middle section).
The Charioteer: Klaus Schulze – ‘Bayreuth Return’ and ‘Wahnfried 1883’.
The Lovers: Edgar Froese – ‘Epsilon in Malaysian Pale’.
The Hierophant: Edgar Froese – ‘Maroubra Bay’ (first half).
The Emperor: Klaus Schulze – ‘Nowhere – Now Here’.
The Empress: Tangerine Dream – ‘Origin of Supernatural Probabilities’.
The High Priestess: Tangerine Dream – ‘Zeit’.
The Magician: Klaus Sculze – ‘Stardancer II’.
The Fool: Manuel Gottsching – ‘Qasarsphere’.
Ah, good old Zeit… definitely mind-expanding music of the highest quality!