I haven’t been out playing guitar and singing for a very long time now, years in fact. I am very much caught up with working as a disability care worker to make a living.
There is one beautiful autistic young man that I play music with, and I realized last week ,this is the only time that I regularly play guitar and sing. I am grateful to him for reminding me of the beauty, simplicity and connection of music and song.
I have never been a technical musician, in fact I know very little about music theory or how it actually works, it’s a very intuitive expression that I enjoy very much.
I find it isn’t about complexity or technical ability; but simplicity. Having said that, I have admiration and appreciation for musicians that are technically brilliant.
When I was 13 years old, I was like many kids, I wanted to play guitar, but I didn’t want to practice. So the few chords I did know, I played and played and played. Just one chord over and over, two chords over and over. I had to get everything I could out of what I had !
I put my ear on the side of the guitar and listened. I became aware that a D chord wasn’t just a D chord but contained every note, every sound, it was a symphony in itself. How D is strummed and picked, either soft or loud, all the endless possibilities and expressions, so much beauty.
I realized it’s no different to relating to people. You have to spend time with someone to really get to know them, to develop a relationship, to know the depth, complexity and beauty of them. I can play a D chord and it's familiar, I know it, and it can appear to be repetitious and boring, so I move onto the next chord. It can appear to be boring, so it's time for another chord, but when I stay with D and delve into the complexity and depth of D, something beautiful happens; and then E will come along just at the right time, not through rejecting D, but through deeply discovering and meeting D. Music is not a casual meeting, but the willingness to go into the unknown, to let go of all preconceived ideas, and be open to a spontaneous intimate meeting.
I find with many things in my life boredom is often my inability to stay with something long enough to discover what's actually here. When I stay with something for a short time, it's appears boring, it's a brick wall to nowhere. If I stay with something long enough without a preconceived idea of what it is, or what's possible, I can discover it's a doorway.
Kirtan/ bhagans are very much based on repetition, and this is not the exclusive domain of the Indian Hindu tradition, but is the underlying musical foundation of many traditional cultures and tribes throughout the world . For me music and song is an invitation, a bridge into the unknown, a space where it’s possible for differences to dissolve, and to feel a sense of connection and unity with everyone and everything. I find it's a beautiful way to experience the joy, peace and aliveness of silence. I feel this inherent quality and possibility is not limited to any particular genre of music, language or belief, but is always present and possible.
My album ‘Surrender’ was based on very simple songs. These songs became very rich, full and complex productions that were expressed through many musicians, instruments and singers.
Studio recording is a beautiful and creative process, and a unique expression and interpretation of songs, and for that I am very grateful to Kamal, Oles, Sangeeta and all the musicians and singers that contributed to that production.
To be playing music with Luke my autistic friend, I am grateful to be reminded of the simplicity and magic that music holds. When I play with him it's no different from playing with an incredibly good musician, In fact it's easier to be in the silence and magic of the music with him, because it appears that he has no preconceived ideas of where the music is supposed to go, or how it's supposed to be played.
In that openness and spontaneity is where magic happens through music for me. It's beyond technical ability, beyond autism, it's a non verbal meeting in the underlying silence, beauty, aliveness and peace that everyone longs for.
God willing for want of a better expression, I look forward to playing again with friends, and enjoying the beauty, joy, aliveness and silence that music and song brings.