Weaving My Ancestors Voices - Song summarys
in Tongues I
This is the fastest and most ambitious piece of spoken percussion Ive attempted. The sounds/syllables relate to Mrdingam and Tabla and draw upon the patterns of rhythm used in South Indian Dance.
The reference in the title to a sort of divine possession links into the Indian idea that all artists are channelling the divine. It also refers to the idiosyncratic madness that I wanted to be a characteristic of the piece.
Donalogue is an ancient Irish ballad from about 1000AD to which Ive added a new verse and changed some of its male-centred lyrics the sentiment doesnt seem to suffer!
The additional weaving of a Muslim style vocal into the piece leaves me wondering where the ornaments of each tradition begin and end.
A Spanish lullaby which Manuel de Falla adapted for piano and voice. Not surprisingly it works over a drone and this, with my additional vocal ornaments, enables the listener to relate it back to the Moorish (Islamic) influences of Spain.
This track relates to Nana in that Im using the same raga (scale) to explore further the same emotions. The track contains Soul-style phrases within the main body of the North Indian-style vocal and back-references to the Spanish melodies in Nana.
These songs are all based on the same raga (or tone row, ie C E F G Bb) and are unified by the drone. The mood of the raga is traditionally one of longing.
I sang both Ever So Lonely and Eyes on Monsoons album Third Eye in 1982. Recently Steve (Coe) wrote Ocean for me. It feels natural to weave the three songs since they have come through the same writer, the same raga, and the same singer.
The guitar drone gives these ancient pieces an anthemic feel. Bhajan means hymn.
Sung in the style of the muezzin in Islamic culture. This sound is focused, forceful and nasal. If you soften the sound it brings you towards the vocal approach of Soul or Andalucian musics. All three styles share key vocal ornaments.
This piece is a fusion of structure rather than of obvious sounds or techniques. An Indian classical singer will often improvise around a simple ghat (four lines of lyric and melody which illustrate the chosen raga and its emotion) by breaking up the phrases to show the singers skill and dexterity. Here Ive used the four line verses of a British folk song and kept to the usual ornaments of that tradition. Because the British fold tradition is so much more familiar to people in the West, this song sheds light on what listening to an Asian ghat with full understanding of the lyrics and musical form might be like
Somewhere all of us intuitively understand the links between ancient musics, that is, that drones and chanting are at the root of all musics.
The act of chanting is like throwing a stone into a lake however small the stone is, the ripples (vibration) it creates affect the whole lake. I believe that making sound can make you sound (whole).
in Tongues II
The changes of pace in this track allow more room for creative use of delay and reverbs, on the spoken syllables.
Indian vocal percussion is a teaching device for drummers, but has become an art form in its own right. Drawing on the traditions of vocal percussion, but not limited by them, I have been developing their possibilities throughout my solo career. They somehow tell a story beyond the fun it is to say them. Play part I and II together for the full effect.
An ancient chant, a new melody. Shiva is the destroyer of ignorance. I find the clever part of me wants the chant to go somewhere instead I listen to the harmonics the chant creates, or just to its fragile simplicity One for all of you to join in with at home!
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