In the short span of the last 100 years sound has almost de-materialized, can be 'synthetically' produced through electro-mechanical energy and electronic, digital functionings. While nowadays we can make most of the accustic system calculations in instrument building with the help of software tools, the final measure and judge will be in the listening, the capacity to touch, sense, intuit the body, the being of sound.
The exceptional violins of Italian make, the disdinquished sound of a branded grand piano, a rustic Spanish Guitar, an Indian Sitar, a Japanese Shakuhachi bamboo flute, an African Balophone or a Balinese Gamelan– all come from the hand of a master maker. This mastery stems from an integration of thorough experiential under-standing, a heart-felt perception and meticulously trained hands, which eventually bring that absolutely defined and inevitable
touch – in an intuitively combined, total action of a living craft tradition at its height.
Example: Plate Bells
We had this wonderful experience in our wokshop in regard to true mastery of the hearing /hand craft through the visit and work with the Russian Bell Master Alexander Zhigarev (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtdDCWUv1yY). Alexander related in an interview an early 'cosmic sound 'experience in his teens which set him on the track of instrument building. As he was looking for the largest manifestation of material sound he had entered the trade of bell casting, working in a very purgatorian work environment with thousands of kilos of molted alloys and heavy bronze work.
And it took 30 years through many blind alleys to arrive at his, from the Russian Icons inspired proportional bell plates with their richly layered and harmonious sound !
Even if he would have been ready to share his aquired knowledge it soon became clear that here is a deep path to tread, no shortcuts in the training of ear and hand, it takes persevering practise and a vision, or should one say 'audition' to follow the sound-track to its very source, to approach the sphere of original sound.....
Jan, originally from The Netherlands and one of our rarely seasoned craft experts in Auroville, got hooked onto that hidden track and is following some faint traces in the golden shimmering brass.....and it is interesting to see how, through an alert and detailed attention and quiet work, the secret is revealing itself according to the offering of oneself into the waves of this seemingly vast sea of sound, the sense of hearing opened like a radar.....
Diving deeper into the realm of sounds one soon can discern the layeredness and facetted nature of even an appearently single and simple tone. There seems to be so much more to it,
in it! And while we are already glad that we can differentiate the fundamentals, a certain pitched frequency, a scale of relations and intervals, it still seems a long journey through those shadowy valleys....
But in lucid moments the harmonics in that one sound radiiate like a rare rainbow over still mountaintops, the noise of the cities and marketplace and all the speculations are left behind, and there it shines, the clear image of something heard, the touch of those waves on the cells of brain - or is it the heart that hears !? Like that childhood experience when you were imagining that the ocean is sounding in the shell pressed to your ear, while in fact it was the inner current, the river of life force rushing through the veins and these moments of wonder.
Of course the intellect registers, re-members. Integrates the experience, and luckily again and again, till at one point you are sure that you have caught the tail of this trailing star from the sound of the spheres, that the heavens are ringing their bells announcing your entry. Only to realize the next moment that the mystery just deepened, that the farther you reach the further the horizon is stretching... What a journey, sounding new harbours, with no defined arrival docks and unsure anchorages ?! But the sails are set again, and again …
The log book of musical tradition describes some clear directions, charters out the sheer unlimited ocean of possible tunings, confines in classic conventions the journeys ahead, a system to follow, tempers the dangers of spiralling nature into the ideal of a circle, safe arena for our varied emotions' expressive dance - a rondo taming the bacchicc rapture of an always expanding universe.
Now, what is new? What is re-searched and found again? What's the buzz? What the constant drone underlying the wordy melodies winding around the Axis Svaramiensis ?
Is it the direct and unfolding experience of the magic of the pure harmonic steps, the ladder of Jacobs – or was it Jack on the beanstalk - the ascending path to our heavenly origin, the descending arrival in our earthly home, the continuous siren calling of Om, luring from secret islands within, speaking in everything heard ?! Suddenly, one not only can see but hear the light signal, calling to the seafarer crossing wide oceans, to return, to re-churn set rules and conventions and embark for the promised land of natural, original, golden proportions, to sound forth and resonate with the melodic matrix, the scent of the flower of life.
Of course, one also could de-scribe in rational terms, elaborate details, add figures and formulas of frequencies, share mappings and charts of the physical routes taken, give reports from the lab, and radar readings form the bridge, - but will the mystic, poetic, musical venture be served with dry analyses, will you be once again satisfied with clear answers, will you be really inspired to follow the trail of this most wonder-ful journey, will you open the secret gate of the listening heart ?!
''Arise, awake, follow the path of the great ones,
Sharp as the razors edge, hard to traverse,
difficult of going is that path, say the sages.“ Katha Upanishad