DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

TRUTH AND MATTER | Making The Case For Musical Telephone

By William Beauvais on February 1, 2017

(Photo: Billy Brown/Flickr)
(Photo: Billy Brown/Flickr)

…Each one of us is a bundle of stories – some of which may be true [inspired by Linda Hogan]

I have been thinking about music stories recently. Wonderful instances when music has brought about change. When I attend guitar festivals, there is always a time for gossip, stories old and new about famous or upcoming artists. These stories give added context to our professional lives, make it richer and help us to see and feel that we are part of a greater community. Sometimes they make us laugh while sometimes they engender a thoughtful state.

There was a group of Tibetan monks brought over to record an album with Mickey Hart [Grateful Dead drummer]. There were 21 members of the Gyuto Tantric Choir, and they were performing in the San Francisco Bay area. Grateful Dead manager, Danny Rifkin was driving them in a large van when they started to pass San Quentin. At this point, several of the monks started shouting, “Trapped souls, trapped souls.”  They asked what the building was, and had to have the meaning of the term prison explained to them. At that point, they refused to go any further until they could perform the necessary ritual. Rifkin drove as near to the prison as he dared, pulled to the shoulder of the road and the monks got out to perform a puja — a prayer and chanting ritual. They chanted to bless the caged spirits and souls of those who were trapped in the prison.

Three years later the group returned to the Bay area and asked to visit San Quentin in a more formal fashion. There was some initial skepticism, but eventually, they were allowed in the chapel. Prisoners were concerned that there might be proselytizing, but the inmates decided to give it a try. It was explained that the Chinese government had imprisoned the monks, who had escaped through the Himalayas with cloth tied around their feet. Forced to live far from home without any hope of returning, it was explained to the inmates that the monks had only these prayers and songs to sustain them through their struggles. Monks and the large men from the prison sitting across from each other looked at the vulnerability in each person’s eyes.

And then they chanted. It is at first an unearthly experience the first time you encounter Tibetan chanting. The prayers continue for quite some time with rumbles so low it is hard to believe that humans create those sounds. When they were finished, the large black men embraced the slender ones in saffron robes as a sense of camaraderie ensued. In subsequent years, a gospel choir was developed at San Quentin, which Mickey Hart also recorded. From trapped souls to recording artists.

Bob Dylan released a song called The Hurricane in 1976. The song was uncharacteristic for Dylan didn’t typically set songs in a narrow temporal frame. That same year, four law students in Toronto, heard it.  When they finished the degrees, they moved to New Jersey to work on the case. They worked for ten years to gain freedom for the Hurricane [Ruben Carter] and in 1988 the charges were dismissed. Carter soon moved to the GTA and from 1996-2005 served as executive director of the Association of the Rights for the Wrongfully Convicted.

A song may fall on the right ears and may be true.

Sometimes we play music for the simple joy of sharing. It is easy to think that this small moment is lost in the tumult of news and events. But the simple joy of playing and enjoying music can be considered as contagious sanity. One simple act begets another, and it becomes easier for others to create and share. As we create and share cultures develop, ideas exchange and discourse flows. Like the poem by Borges “..the potter contemplating colour and a form… unaware is saving the world.”

[bctt tweet=”Borges “..the potter contemplating colour and a form… unaware is saving the world.”” via=”no”]

Our daily work is to spread sanity as one note follows another.

For more TRUTH AND MATTER, see HERE.

#LUDWIGVAN

William Beauvais

William Beauvais has been teaching, performing composing, recording and improvising music for over 40 years. He has written music for harpist Sharlene Wallace, baritone Doug MacNaughton and the Oberin Guitar Trio. As a performer William has worked with New Music Concerts, the Canadian Chamber Ensemble and Tapestry New Opera, giving first performances of music by George Crumb, Elliott Carter, Chris Paul Harman and Rodney Sharman. He has collaborated with poets Steve McCabe and storyteller Ariel Balevi. His CD’s are available through the Canadian music centre.
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

RECORD KEEPING | Getting To Know The Elbphilharmonie Hamburg Inside Out

By Paul E. Robinson on September 5, 2017

The Elbphilharmonie Hamburg proposes a two-disc set to document their hall's inaugural concert, a felicitous capture.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

BANFF | Scaling New Heights For Classical Music: A Field Report From Banff Centre

By Jennifer Liu on September 1, 2017

Our field report of Banff Centre's cultural renaissance on the world stage. Part one: revamping their Summer Classical Music programs.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

CRITIC'S PICKS | 10 Concerts You Should Absolutely See This Week

By Joseph So on September 18, 2017

Classical music and opera events happening in and around Toronto for the week of Sept. 18 to 24.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.