Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Rhythm Line

Following is an excerpt from the upcoming second edition of the Muzoracle handbook, Mythopoetics of Muzoracle, A User's Guide. The guide, along with a 24x36 reference poster and a completely updated interactive website, will be published on September 22nd, the Autumnal Equinox of 2017. The new edition will be shipped free to all current Muzoracle owners.

The Rhythm Line

As vibration falls in frequency downward through light, though ranges imperceptible to us and down through sound, it eventually slows to the point where we can apprehend each individual vibration: pitch becomes pulse. Experientially, vibrations within our pitch range and above exist without regard to time: while we can point to the time when such a frequency begins and ends, while it is occurring, while we are inside of it, time is not referenced; it is irrelevant. Pulse, in contrast, measures time; it is forever concerned with where it’s been and where it’s going. Of course, just because we can’t count individual vibrations beyond a certain speed doesn’t mean they’re not occurring in time; we may experience A440, for example, as timeless, but it’s still a wave cycling 440 times per second. But the fact that we perceive pitch as timeless, and pulse as time-based, suggests two separate modalities so ubiquitous to human experience that they’re easy to miss: being and process. Our lives are spent being and doing; what we perceive as which is a matter of frequency. Again, we’re not talking about what we can scientifically measure, or imagine; we’re talking about what we perceive and experience. The implications of this are considerable: what we consider “is” and what we consider “does” defines for us what is fixed and what is mutable; our experience of reality is built around these distinctions.

In Muzoracle mythopoetics, the frequency that divides these modalities is called the Rhythm Line. It’s more than a fixed number where vibration falls out of our hearing range; it marks a shift in consciousness and varies for different people in different ways at different times. It is quite possible for us, for example, to bring more being into doing, to become more present in time, as any good drummer or meditator will tell you. Presence in life is an altering of our relationship to frequency.

Experientially, for us human critters, pitch—and by extension, harmony—is timeless. Pulse—and by extension, rhythm, scales, and melody—is time-based. In Muzoracle mythopoetics, pitch and harmony—expressed chiefly through the cards and the Musician’s Die—indicate states of being. Rhythm, scales, and melody—expressed in a handful of cards and the Solf├Ęge Dice—indicate processes or points within processes.

Friday, January 27, 2017

New Moon Casting with Piano Improv: 01/27/17

As our country, and indeed the world, takes a dark turn toward fascism, we cast the Muzoracle at the dark of the moon, a time for new beginnings.

In the dark of the new moon, preparedness is coupled with an increase of force; we are ready to burst forth. The milieu we enter, though, does not require what we have imagined—instead, we are called to improvise. In music, improvisation is not just randomly making things up—it involves deep listening in mind, feeling, and body, and responding musically in a way that serves the piece at hand. Here and now we are called to consciously respond to a constantly changing environment. The precise form of the end we wish to achieve is not known; our intent, however, our aims, are clear. There’s an old joke that says improvisation is continuously making the best of the mistake you just made. There will be missteps—but they will be first steps in something lovely and unplanned, providing we remain in intent, and listen, listen, listen.

The wherewithal to see our aims through comes from mastering our emotions—if we become overly identified with our emotions, we will become drained. This mastering, though, is not mere repression; it is a service to, a remembering of, a higher mastery, a drive toward and longing for compassion and fellowship. 

Beyond the enormous scope of the issues we face, there’s an even broader challenge at hand, a life lesson on offer for us individually and as a culture. We are called to integrate sorrow. In pain we lash out: the situation we are in is a response to pain. Shall we respond to our pain in kind? Or is there another way? Anger can crystallize into self-righteous belief—so the gun is passed. But sorrow can embrace, like two friends long estranged. Perhaps then the real work of conciliation can begin.

Casting notes. Key of A descending: Throat Chakra, issues of communication. Under do, the Point of Inception, a Major Sixth of Brass crossed by Crescendo: preparedness and increase in force. Under so, the Point of Vitality, a Conductor of Strings: mastery in feeling. Under fa, the Point of Transition, a Minor Third of Voices: sacrifice. Under ti, the Point of Revelation, Improvisation. Over te, the Point of Opportunity, al Segno: intuition. Over le, the Point of Mechanicality, a Unison of Voices: fellowship. Over ra, the Point of Broad Challenge, a Minor Third of Strings: sorrow. Under la, the Point of Governance, a Conductor of Voices: mastery in spirit.