Gino Foti - MIDI Bass Guitar, MIDI Bass Pedals, Keyboards, Symthesizers, Loops & Samples
"To discover the light and power latent within all human beings, that is the secret of all religion, the power of mysticism, and the essence of philosophy, without interfering with customs or belief. This is not the time to advance any particular sect, church, or belief. We have too many sects. They are only outer forms. The things that really matter are deeper."
"Some day music will be the means of expressing universal religion. Time is wanted for this, but there will come a day when music and its philosophy will become the religion of humanity." ~ Hazrat Inayat Khan
This album is a musical journey through the mystical, esoteric paths of the world's largest religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Taoism.
Although their individual doctrines, rites, and rituals mostly contradict one another in exoteric forms, there is a universal spirituality that transcends beyond all their differences, even crossing over the "great divide" of the Abrahamic & Dharmic traditions.
The Universe as sound, or the role of sound in creation, is common to every religion and mythology in recorded history, and all their mystic branches agree that Gnosis, or Ultimate Reality, whether called: Aum, Ein Sof, God, Logos, Music of the Spheres, Nada Brahma, Saut-e Sarmad, Shabda Brahman, or Tao, cannot be expressed solely in words.
This single, perennial philosophy of one sound divided, or multiplied, into an almost infinite number of frequencies, or tones, generating complex geometric patterns that contain the order and structure necessary to create Nature - and the science behind it - can be understood even by agnostics and devout atheists.
Given the importance and resonance of music and reflection in the mystic practices of all the major religions, I thought it would make an excellent concept for my fourth release in the ethnic fusion, meditation, and spiritual genres.
Click on the song titles to stream music samples.
In The Sunlight Of Awareness
"Each thought, each action in the sunlight of awareness becomes sacred." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
Inspired by the poetry of Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh - best known in the West as the father of Engaged Buddhism, which seeks ways to apply the insights from Dharma teachings and meditation practices to the inequalities of economic, environmental, and socio-political situations - this composition is a blend of Chinese and Vietnamese themes, influenced from the traditional music of both countries.
It features the dizi, a Chinese transverse flute made of bamboo, backed by a custom patch for my MIDI bass guitar that blends a yangqin and a tam thap luc - two hammered dulcimers, the former from China, the latter from Vietnam, and a complex synthesizer bed, in C Major.
A Dark Night Of The Soul
"There can be no rebirth without a dark night of the soul, a total annihilation of all that you believed in and thought that you were." ~ Hazrat Inayat Khan, Thinking Like The Universe: The Sufi Path Of Awakening
The title phrase and its meaning is found in many mystical traditions, as well as the writings of many philosophers, even though it is usually associated with a spiritual crisis between the individual and their union with the Christian God.
Although sounding very sinister, a dark night of the soul actually implies the ongoing process of liberation from attachments and compulsions, and empowering oneself to live more freely. It is often triggered by an external event, like the sudden death of a loved one, rendering the meaning of one's life - up to that point - completely invalid. The individual now must go through the depths of despair before reaching an awakening. The Sufi poet Rumi captured it succinctly when he wrote: "The cure for the pain is the pain."
This arrangement features a bowed acoustic bass - played via an electric MIDI bass guitar - a custom patch that blends Arabian and Indian flutes, and a myriad of synthesizer pads & vox, in the key of D harmonic minor, one of my favorite "dark" keys.
I Drift Like A Wave On The Ocean
"Other people have what they need.
I alone possess nothing.
I alone drift about.
Like someone without a home.
I am like an idiot, my mind is so empty.
Other people are bright.
I alone am dark.
Other people are sharp.
I alone am dull.
Other people have a purpose.
I alone donít know.
I drift like a wave on the ocean." ~ Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 20 (translation by Stephen Mitchell)
This enigmatic piece makes use of many instruments, including: acoustic piano, ambient pads, hand percussion, and a plethora of synth beds & vox, all playing simple lines, ideas, arpeggios, etc. trying to form a "whole is greater than the sum of its parts" arrangement. To tie it in with the previous two tracks, I used F Major and F Lydian, primarily.
Music has long played an integral part in all religious ceremonies, and has several different functions in Taoist ones. They believe that music is an effective way to speak to their deities, inspire their followers, and achieve inner harmony, bringing both listeners and participants closer to Tao (Dao) - the Way, or the One path to enlightenment.
Stigmatum S. Francisci (The Holy Wounds Of St. Francis)
Saint Francis of Assisi is one of the most venerated religious figures in history. According to Christian/Roman Catholic tradition, he received the stigmata during the apparition of a seraph in 1224, making him the first recorded person in Christian history to bear the wounds of Christ's Passion.
One day while St. Francis was praying alone on a mountain, a seraph appeared to him in the sky, with hands and feet pierced by nails. After assuring Francis that his wounds were symbolic, as angels can feel no pain, rays of light beamed from the five wounds of the seraph, and marked Francis with the visible and painful wounds of Christ.
(Modern medical experts have hypothesized from records of St. Francis' physical ailments and symptoms, that he probably suffered from maladies like trachoma and/or quartan malaria, maybe even leprosy, which would have produced stigmata-like marks on his body.)
This arrangement is an amalgam of the Latin hymn Dies Irae in D minor, and an atmospheric synthesizer bed outlining a five-chord progression in Dm and F Major, to obviously symbolize the holy wounds. I chose this hymn since it is usually attributed to Tomaso de Celano, a Franciscan monk who was one of the twelve disciples of St. Francis, as well as his first biographer. In 1230, he wrote:
"When the blessed servant of God saw these things he was filled with wonder, but he did not know what the vision meant. He rejoiced greatly in the benign and gracious expression with which he saw himself regarded by the seraph, whose beauty was indescribable; yet he was alarmed by the fact that the seraph was affixed to the cross and was suffering terribly. Thus Francis rose, one might say, sad and happy, joy and grief alternating in him. He wondered anxiously what this vision could mean, and his soul was uneasy as it searched for understanding. And as his understanding sought in vain for an explanation and his heart was filled with perplexity at the great novelty of this vision, the marks of nails began to appear in his hands and feet, just as he had seen them slightly earlier in the crucified man above him.
His wrists and feet seemed to be pierced by nails, with the heads of the nails appearing on his wrists and on the upper sides of his feet, the points appearing on the other side. The marks were round on the palm of each hand but elongated on the other side, and small pieces of flesh jutting out from the rest took on the appearance of the nail-ends, bent and driven back. In the same way the marks of nails were impressed on his feet and projected beyond the rest of the flesh. Moreover, his right side had a large wound as if it had been pierced with a spear, and it often bled so that his tunic and trousers were soaked with his sacred blood."
A medieval poem in trochaic meter, Dies Irae is characterized by its accentual stress, and its rhymed lines. It describes the Day of Judgment, with the last trumpet summoning souls before the throne of God, where the saved will be delivered, and the rest will be cast into the eternal flames of Hell.
"Dies irae, dies illa,|
solvet saeculum in favilla,
teste David cum Sibylla.
Quantus tremor est futurus,
Tuba mirum spargens sonum
Mors stupebit et natura,
Liber scriptus proferetur,
Iudex ergo cum sedebit,
Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
Rex tremendae maiestatis,
Recordare Iesu pie,
Quarens me, sedisti lassus:
Iuste iudex ultionis,
Ingemisco, tamquam reus:
Qui Mariam absolvisti,
Preces meae non sunt dignae:
Inter oves locum praesta,
Oro supplex et acclinis,
Lacrimosa dies illa,
Pie Iesu Domine,
"Day of wrath and doom impending,|
Davidís word with Sibylís blending,
Heaven and earth in ashes ending.
O what fear manís bosom rendeth,
Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth,
Death is struck, and nature quaking,
Lo, the book exactly worded,
When the Judge His seat attaineth,
What shall I, frail man, be pleading?
King of majesty tremendous,
Think, kind Jesus, my salvation
Faint and weary Thou hast sought me,
Righteous Judge, for sinís pollution
Guilty now I pour my moaning,
Through the sinful woman shriven,
Worthless are my prayers and sighing,
With Thy sheep a place provide me,
When the wicked are confounded,
Low I kneel with heartís submission,
Ah! That day of tears and mourning,
Lord, all-pitying, Jesus blest,
A Garland Of Severed Heads
"The stars are blotted out,
The clouds are covering clouds,
It is darkness vibrant, sonant.
In the roaring, whirling wind
Are the souls of a million lunatics
Just loose from the prison-house,
Wrenching trees by the roots,
Sweeping all from the path.
The sea has joined the fray,
And swirls up mountain-waves,
To reach the pitchy sky.
The flash of lurid light
Reveals on every side
A thousand, thousand shades
Of Death begrimed and black -
Scattering plagues and sorrows,
Dancing mad with joy,
Come, Mother, come!
For Terror is Thy name,
Death is in Thy breath,
And every shaking step
Destroys a world forever.
Thou "Time", the All-Destroyer!
Come, O Mother, come!
Who dares misery love,
And hug the form of Death,
Dance in Destruction's dance,
To him the Mother comes." ~ Swami Vivekananda, Kali The Mother
Inspired by the writings of Swami Vivekananda, disciple of the 19th-century mystic Ramakrishnaa, and a global spokesperson for the Indian philosophy of Vedanta - which over the years has adopted ideas from Yoga, Nyaya, and other schools to become the most prominent school of Hinduism, this piece features effected Indian string instruments, including: sitar, surbahar (bass sitar), and a veena - all performed on MIDI bass guitar - with numerous synth beds, pads, and themes, playing mostly inside of C#m7 & A Lydian (E Major).
The title refers to one of the many emblems of Kali, the Black Goddess. The garland of severed heads - sometimes depicted as skulls - that she wears symbolizes the many individuals that she has liberated from the endless cycle of death and rebirth. Although the iconography may seem grim and horrific to most Westerners at first glance, they should be viewed more as trophies of enlightenment, or the possessions of a proud mother, like babies' teeth, or bronzed shoes, etc. The garland usually consists of fifty heads, representing the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, the origin of sound, and a Tantric metaphor for creative power. She is sometimes referred to as Shabda Brahman, or Sound-Brahman, and her paradoxical combinations of maternal tenderness and destructive terror, the Vedic and Tantric paths, made her an optimal choice for me, conceptually.
Sha'are Orah (Gates Of Light)
"Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright. Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness." ~ Psalm 33:1-4
The title (aka Shaarei Ora, Shaarey Orah, Sefer ha-Orah) is from the classic work of Rabbi Joseph Gikatila, a 13th-century Kabbalist, considered to be one of the most significant contributions on the subject of the Names of God, and their mystical applications.
In the Kabbalistic tradition, there are wordless songs, called nigun or nigunim that are considered paths to a higher consciousness. Reflecting a blend of musical spectrums, some have structures and progressions, some are repetitive and cyclical, while some contain elements of both, like you would find in most East-meets-West fusion. I chose the latter as a point of departure for this composition.
Given the importance of names and numbers in Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism, I used D Aeolian mode and D harmonic minor, for conceptual purposes. D for David (King David was a talented musician) = Kaleth = 4 = number of strings on my bass guitar, and Aeolian for David's lyre, which was most likely an Aeolian harp - named after the mythological Greek god of the winds.
A solo piece performed on MIDI bass guitar, in dropped D tuning, that uses a custom patch of several stringed instruments, including: guitar, harp, and lyre, with generous amounts of delay and reverb.