Truth, Music and Creation

When you sing serious music, you must understand that there is no intrinsic Truth in the musical form! The musical form needs something to bring it to Truth and that something is human experience. Singing is intrinsically human when it expresses deep emotions, but the musical form–even the melody–is not true, so don’t be so proud you can sing the notes to an operatic aria or a song from Lieder. If you have not brought human experience to the song, it is dead. Songs have to be sung. They cannot just be thought. So when you sing you must bring to the musical form human truth and let it be shown and felt. You must stream the truth to the music as you sing and this we call acting. All singing is also acting if truth has been brought to the music. Otherwise music is just a form that we use to create a block to the awareness of Truth. How often we see this. Some “great singer” sings a great piece of music–let’s say Schubert’s Die Winterreise–and we see him standing by the piano, his arms by his side, and as far as we can tell, there is no human truth being given to either the music or the audience, and there is always an audience for singing, even if it is just nature or God. No song is sung in obscurity!! He sings the music very well. His phrasing is good. His timbre is good. All the aspects of the musical form are good, but it is as dead as any lifeless form. The music has captured his mind and it sings through him as though on auto-pilot, as though a robot were singing. He has forgotten that his mental attention must be ahead of the musical beat so that he can present truth to the music as it comes. This takes a lot of concentration, of course, and so he contents himself with “just singing.” He tells himself a lie, that the music doesn’t need to be acted.
One of the best tools for a singer is oral interpretation of literature. One must take the text as a text and interpret it with human truth. Only then is he ready to “sing” that text with meaning in a song or aria. The “acting” will then be very easy and realistic. You won’t just stand there with your arms in one position and we will see on your face and in your body the human truth that you have brought to the music.
In the Stanislavsky Method, there are two “beats” involved in singing, the first “beat” is the awareness in the mind of a choice for how the phrase is being interpreted. The second beat is the musical beat. So, the dramatic beat must be before the musical beat or no truth is offered to the music. The music is very good at hypnotising the conscious mind into falling in line with its beat. If that happens, the singer is just a singing machine and there is no truth!! But if you know this you can also tell that the music is very good at giving the mind imagination out of which a dramatic beat can be chosen. It takes work! Creation takes work! We see little of it happening today. Singers struggle just with technique to sing the notes. They have no energy left over for human truth!!! But I also saw this in the singing of two generations ago among singers we now consider “golden age” singers. They just sang and added on some gesture here or there and called it truth, but such is as much a lie as we see today! Creation has always been difficult, and only creation can be called “art.”

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Of didactic ways I would repent.

Of didactic ways I would repent.
My school years have passed.
The time for learning is over.
In this space I would put away all time and learning.
I would come afresh to stillness.
In that stillness there sparkles all the truth my learning could not attain.
In that stillness I find you,
perfect with the innocence of creation.
You have not changed.
As wisdom-bearer in Brahman’s House, who could change you?
As natural as the flow of the Tao, who could change you?
As the silence on the Buddha’s lips, who could change you?
In this space I have come to stillness
And in this stillness I have found you as perfect.
In perfection does my mind hold the moment and share it with you.
In this space where stillness shines there is relief from time
and freedom to remember the vast ages of our knowing.
Lifetimes upon lifetimes present themselves in parade of gallant splendor
for at last we remember.
Millions of years come to us in memory of who we are and the Love that grows within us.
We have not changed.
My alchemy shows its art.
In this space I have summoned stillness and I remember.