Chakra Music
 

Introduction

It does not require any belief system to undertake this work. Realise, however, that if you do, you will call into being elemental forces of sound that will create a kind of magic which has been known since time immemorial. Whether that magic is positive or negative will depend entirely on the underlying emotions, not conscious intentions, of the performers.

Creating this sacred sound space is a perceptual act which requires every heart as its foundation, and if one pier/ peer is faulty the result could be negative for all. Possibly some small ceremony or gathered silence should precede the performance of Chakra Music for Singers in which participants affirm a commitment to honour each other's space. I am not exaggerating when I recommend that if, even at the very last moment, a performer should have doubts about hir ability to participate with a clear mind s/he should withdraw. Indeed if a choir director wishes to perform this work, but feels that some of hir choristers are not yet ready to treat their colleagues with respect, it would be best defered until the composition of hir choir is appropriate.

Every performance of the piece is unique, since every performance will reflect whatever emotions are brought to it.


The Chakras

In the Vedic philosophy the Chakras are the 7 energy centres of the body. They are sensed from the base of the spine up into the head parallel to certain organs.

At the base of the spine is the root chakra, the coiled serpent of sexual energy.

Very close to it is the sacral, associated with digestion and excretion, and self-honesty at the inmost level.

Third is the navel or solar plexus, the seat of our emotions and fears.

In the centre of our being comes the heart, the home of love, compassion adjacent to our vital force, breath.

Next is the throat chakra, the focus of communication and creativity.

The sixth is the so-called third eye, the pineal gland directly between the eyebrows, centre of our intuition and spiritual focus.

Lastly, comes the crown chakra at the top of the head. Only the experienced are able to address this energy centre directly. For when it is open, as for instance in a deep state of meditation, a person is in the highest state of psychic awareness. (And it is for this reason that this piece should only be performed by people who are fully conscious of their need to respect the forces at their command.)

When the lower energy centres are properly aligned and open, especially if a performer has practised Hatha yoga in preparation, the kundalini energy is released. In this condition generative energy from the lowest chakras is focused directly into the spiritual consciousness to unify and ground the performer in a unified awareness.


Singing the Chakras

This is incredibly easy. Focus your mind on the specific area of the body and produce the pitch your intuition tells you. You may initially need to shift it a tone or semitone either way, but when you hit the right note you should feel that area of your body vibrating in sympathy. (And you will usually feel much better afterwards too.)

After a little further experimentation you will generally find that tonally these chakras are a fourth apart, with the head chakras corresponding to head notes or falsetto /coloratura. The correct relationship depends vitally on pitching your lowest tone at the very bottom of your range.

I suspect that knowledge of the Chakras was widespread in the ancient world, after all the connection between the eastern Mediterranean and northern India was extremely active. Pythagoras regarded the fourth as extremely important. Indeed contemporary popular Greek music, like much Indian music, still regards the fourth either side of the tonic as the principal materièl for most melodic composition. This ties in with my own conclusions detailed above.

You will find after some experimentation that you have one particular chakra to which you respond most readily. That is natural, it will probably be the chakra lying closest to the middle of your natural tessitura.


Performing Chakra Music for Singers

After preparing to perform, each singer should look at or visualise the chart of chakra symbols and let hir instinct prompt the right starting point and order appropriate for each specific occasion. All that is required is a pre-decision on how many sounds, and of what character, are to be performed on each chakra. Breaks may or may not be left between each singer's note - during which s/he should intensify hir awareness of the appropriate moment to sing again.

For those taking their first steps in this area I recommend that they perform three full, deep-breathed OMs on each chakra.* These should start on a wide Ah sound, and rotate the throat very slowly through the full range of harmonics finishing on a prolonged hum. Much intensity and care should be given to making this a perfectly modulated ellipse of sound.

In order to acquire fluency some performers have found it helpful to restrict the number of chakras initially. Three is a practical number. These are best chosen aleatorically by each performer rolling a die to establish a selection.

If the performers are in the right mental space no signal will be necessary to start, or finish. People may start together or singly, however the mood of the moment is - it really doesn't matter. If performed by a large choir, no attempt should be made to coordinate the pitches, nor to synchronise or to govern the performance in any way. The movement between discord and harmony will happen quite spontaneously and its unpredictability is not only its charm but its gift.

Should a satisfactorily result not occur spontaneously it is an indication that the performers are not yet occupying the right creative space for these ideas.

Chakra Music for Singers is a tool for increasing individual and collective awareness. As far as humanly possible the choir director should avoid comments that are merely technical: each singer will make the sounds s/he needs to make - if vocal difficulties occur reaching the 6th & 7th chakra notes. so be it. Enthusiasts will practise in their own time and reach personal solutions to any difficulties, the development of a technique unrelated to the solution of 'inner' problem is wholly against the spirit of the music. After rehearsing or performing Chakra Music for Singers a few times singers will create a self-regulating environment. Even the dynamic ebb and flow of volume will occur spontaneously when singers are attuned to each other, and can dispense with ideas that music requires the imposition of intellectual controls.

What will arise, and should most emphatically not be planned or controlled, are time-zones of dissonance and time-zones of such harmony that exceed the power of any composer to notate. Again, the singers' spontaneous interaction will mould these moments as is most appropriate. A similar sensitivity should inspire each singer's choice of note.

Further richness arises if the performers are able to employ harmonics in their singing. In this way a wonderful kaleidoscope of sound emerges which may be compared to varieties of pentecostal singing found around the world.

The concept could be coupled with live electronics to create ambient sounds of unusual beauty.

There are alternative ways of organising performances, which can be communicated after performers are at ease with what is suggested above. But there is an initiatory element in this type of experience which cannot be bypassed however misguided enthusiasts may try.

If that compositional idea has merit, do I own it or do I not? It has certainly perplexed the 'cultural managers' of the avantgarde to whom Music is defined exclusively in terms of a literature. The concept of nuclear individualism which arrived with differentiated consciousness still informs Art Music's idea of the composer. While this may have been a necessary phase of evolution it doesn't need to be perpetuated. On the other hand can a composer 'own' a work without fulfilling the philosophic-legal criteria of defining the composition as a linear sequence?

* Students of numerology will realise that radically varied sound spaces can be created by combining different numbers of Aums, or of other mantras, but this kind of development would distract beginners.
To scientific literalism Number is simply a measure of quantity, but with progress toward self-realisation comes the insight that all matter (and idea) is imbued with a life-force in which the central component is rhythm (the relationship between the one and the all) and that in this rhythm there are certain archetypal ratios.

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