Sphere Of Influence


Gino Foti - Sphere Of Influence Track Listing
  • Infinite Realms Of Light And Dark (6:25)
  • Amor Y Poder (5:39)
  • Heart And Mind United (4:24)
  • Dancing On The Edge Of A Dream (4:39)
  • Degrees Of Force (5:05)
  • Marirangwe (5:08)
  • Within The Circles (4:03)
  • Saudade (4:04)
  • Seafaring Soul (4:20)
  • One Day As A Lion (4:31)
  • Paths Of The Warrior (4:51)
  • Ouroboros (4:41)
  • Tender Shadows (4:14)
  • Prescient Visions (5:07)

Credits

Gino Foti - Bass Guitars, MIDI Bass Guitar, Keyboards, Loops & Samples


Guest Musicians:

Dave Kulju - Electric Guitar on "Heart And Mind United"
Chris Rossi - Piano on "Degrees Of Force"

Overview

 
"Each one has his circle of influence, large or small; within his sphere so many souls and minds are involved; with his rise, they rise; with his fall, they fall. The size of a man’s sphere corresponds with the extent of his sympathy, or we may say, with the size of his heart. His sympathy holds his sphere together. As his heart grows, his sphere grows; as his sympathy is withdrawn or lessened, so his sphere breaks up and scatters. If he harms those who live and move within his sphere, those dependent upon him or upon his affection, he of necessity harms himself. His house or his palace or his cottage, his satisfaction or his disgust in his environment is the creation of his own thought. Acting upon his thoughts, and also part of his own thoughts, are the thoughts of those near to him; others depress him and destroy him, or they encourage and support him, in proportion as he repels those around him by his coldness, or attracts them by his sympathy.
 
Each individual composes the music of his life. It he injures another, he brings disharmony. When his sphere is disturbed, he is disturbed himself, and there is a discord in the melody of his life. If he can quicken the feeling of another to joy or to gratitude, by that much he adds to his own life; he becomes himself by that much more alive. Whether conscious of it or not, his thought is affected for the better by the joy or gratitude of another, and his power and vitality increase thereby, and the music of his life grows more in harmony."
~ Hazrat Inayat Khan, Sphere Of Influence
 
Composition Notes

Click on the song titles to stream music samples.


Coniunctio Oppositorum (Union Of Opposites)


When opposing elements encounter each other they can repel or neutralize themselves, or according to Jungian thought, it can lead to the Coniunctio Oppositorum - the Union Of Opposites - a form of higher unity and transcendence of polarities. The concept that opposite aspects are really parts of one dynamic process is universal to all cultures, past and present, and I thought that this theme was an excellent explanation of what I was trying to achieve musically with this release: merge several ethnic traditions and disparate musical elements into a unified whole, as well as creating a dynamic interplay between the dual aspects of rhythm and melody of the bass guitar.

Part I: Infinite Realms Of Light And Dark

"Infinite realms of light and dark convey the Buddha Mind;
 Birds and trees and stars and we ourselves come forth in perfect harmony;
 We recite our gatha and our sutra for the many beings of the world;
 In grateful thanks to all our many guides along the ancient way;
 All Buddhas throughout space and time
 All Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas;
 The Great Prajna Paramita."
~ Zen Buddhism Sutra, Beginning of Evening Dedications

This composition blends traditional Asian instruments and themes with jazz fusion-styled bass guitar over major (light) and minor (dark) modalities. It features yangchin (aka yang qin - a Chinese dulcimer) and dizu (Chinese transverse flute) solos, as well as a brief bass guitar lead, all backed by several percussion instruments, including: bangu (frame drum), muyui (tuned woodblocks), paiban (castanets), paigu (Chinese drum set), gongs, bells, and cymbals.


Part II: Amor Y Poder (Love and Power)

“Logically, the opposite of love is hate, and of Eros (the Greek Cupid), Phobos (Fear); but psychologically it is the will to power. Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other." ~ Carl Jung, On the Psychology of the Unconsciousness

As the title suggests, this arrangement alternates between gentle and powerful sections in a variety of Mediterranean/Middle-Eastern rhythms, including: Ayyub (or Ayyuub), Baladi (or Beledi, Baledy), Cheftitelli (or Ciftetelli), Maqsum (or Maksum, Maqsoum), Malfuf (or Malfouf), and Saidi (or Sayyidii) - all performed on two doumbeks. Classical guitars, fretted and fretless bass guitars round out the instrumentation playing both lead and supportive roles while trying to maintain song flow over all the dynamic sections.


Part III: Heart And Mind United
 
"We can walk our road together
 If our goals are all the same
 We can run alone and free
 If we pursue a different aim.
 
 Let the truth of Love be lighted
 Let the love of Truth shine clear
 Sensibility
 Armed with sense and liberty.
 
 With the Heart and Mind united
 In a single perfect Sphere."
~ Neil Peart, The Sphere

 
This arrangement is centered around question-and-answer & tradeoff solo sections between me (on piano) and my Electrum bandmate, guitarist Dave Kulju, over various percussion instruments and rhythms from throughout the globe. It also includes an ensemble section sharing fragmented melody lines that recalls our past efforts in the instrumental progressive rock genre.
Dancing On The Edge Of A Dream

"The fawn-eyed girl with sun-browned legs
 Dances on the edge of his dream
 And her voice rings in his ears
 Like the music of the spheres."
~ Neil Peart, The Analog Kid

Bass guitar is joined by two classical guitars and several Latin percussion instruments playing different Bossa feels.


Degrees Of Force

"Once one has achieved a certain degree of independence, one wants more. People arrange themselves according to their degree of force: the individual no longer simply supposes himself the equal of others, he seeks his equals - he distinguishes himself from others. Individualism is followed by the formation of groups and organs; related tendencies join together and become active as a power." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will To Power

This composition features individual piano and fretless bass guitar solos, as well as a call-and-response section between the two, in the Spanish Phrygian (or Phrygian Dominant) scale, over a bed of rhythm guitars and Latin jazz-styled congas, bongos, and hi-hat cymbals. This arrangement showcases keyboardist Chris Rossi.


Marirangwe

The title is the Shona (Zimbabwe and Mozambique) vernacular for "dusk", literally "when the leopard hunts". The main instrument for this piece is the mbira (thumb piano), which is closely associated with the Shona people as it pervades all aspects of their culture. Using their traditional repertoire as a point of departure, I arranged two mbira parts - a leading (kushaura) and an intertwining (kutsinhira), and added jazz-rock fusion ideas on top. Additional instrumentation includes: djoun (aka djun djun - African drum), clay pots, marimba, and of course - fretted and fretless bass guitars, with the latter performing a solo in 6/8 time signature.


Within The Circles
 
"Within the circles of our lives
 we dance the circles of the years,
 the circles of the seasons
 within the circles of the years,
 the cycles of the moon
 within the circles of the seasons,
 the circles of our reasons
 within the cycles of the moon.
 
 Again, again we come and go,
 changed, changing. Hands
 join, unjoin in love and fear,
 grief and joy. The circles turn,
 each giving into each, into all.
 Only music keeps us here,
 
 each by all the others held.
 In the hold of hands and eyes
 we turn in pairs, that joining,
 joining each to all again.
 
 And then we turn aside, alone,
 out of the sunlight gone
 
 into darker circles of return."
~ Wendell Berry, Song (4)

 
Traditional rhythms and instruments from Thailand are blended with bass guitars in this composition. Some of the Thai instruments include: khlui (aka klui - a wooden flute), pii (bamboo whistle), wode (pan pipes), khong (bronze gong), ching, chhap (both cymbals), and klong yao (hand drum).
Saudade

Saudade is a Portuguese word that is not easy to translate. In his book "In Portugal", AFG Bell wrote: "The famous saudade of the Portuguese is a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness."

Acoustic piano is joined by fretless bass, acoustic guitar, and Latin jazz-styled percussion over a repeating chromatic progression, meant to represent a nostalgic tension between the longness for what is gone and the expectation of return.


Seafaring Soul

"Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul. If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas. For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction. Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing; and let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes." ~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Piano and fretless bass guitar are the prominent instruments playing over a rhythm section of two electric guitars, frame drum, and a doumbek playing Ayyub (a driving Mediterranean rhythm) patterns. Following the central themes of the quote above and this release, dynamic balance between the main instruments was my main focus for this piece.


One Day As A Lion

"It is better to live one day as a lion than a thousand as a sheep." ~ Ancient Roman proverb

"I was not delivered unto this world in defeat, nor does failure course in my veins. I am not a sheep waiting to be prodded by my shepherd. I am a lion and I refuse to talk, to walk, to sleep with the sheep. I will hear not those who weep and complain, for their disease is contagious. Let them join the sheep. The slaughterhouse of failure is not my destiny." ~ Og Mandino, Persistence

Fretted and fretless bass guitar are joined by African percussion, voices, flutes, mallet instruments (marimba, tongue drum, slit drum), and of course - a pride of lions - in an arrangement that features 6/8 and 7/8 odd time signatures.


Paths Of The Warrior  a.) Awareness b.) Transformation c.) Intent

"Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore, a warrior must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if he feels that he should not follow it, he must not stay with it under any conditions. His decision to keep on that path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition. He must look at every path closely and deliberately. There is a question that a warrior has to ask, mandatorily: 'Does this path have a heart?' " ~ Carlos Castaneda, The Teachings Of Don Juan

"A warrior always listens to the sounds of the world." ~ Carlos Castaneda, Journey To Ixtlan

Assembled from jam sessions and unused material by Electrum, this miniature suite features piano, bass guitar, and fretless bass with each instrument taking the lead role in one of the sections that receive their titles from the three Masteries of the Toltec (pre-Aztec Mexican) tradition. Drum kit, congas, woodblocks, and classical guitars round out the instrumentation for this piece.


Ouroboros

The title refers to an ancient Mediterranean symbol, shown as a snake (or serpent) that is devouring its own tail, representing several concepts, such as: completion, totality, the endless round of existence, and any other cyclic patterns and principles used to describe humanity and/or nature. I thought the symbolism worked well given the extensive use of loops used, the sinuous movement of the jazz-funk arrangement, and its tie-in to the album's main concept: "The Ouroboros is a dramatic symbol for the integration and assimilation of the opposite, i.e. of the shadow. This 'feed-back' process is at the same time a symbol of immortality, since it is said of the ouroboros that he slays himself and brings himself to life, fertilises himself and gives birth to himself. He symbolises the One, who proceeds from the clash of opposites, and he therefore constitutes the secret of the prima materia which [...] unquestionably stems from man's unconscious". ~ Carl Jung, Collected Works

A "tongue-in-cheek" composition featuring fretted and fretless bass guitars, electric guitars, and Mediterranean/Middle-Eastern percussion - mostly doumbeks (or doumbec, darbuka) playing jazz-funk patterns and also performing a panned call-and-response solo.


Tender Shadows

"In this world, full often, our joys are the only tender shadows which our sorrows cast." ~ Henry Ward Beecher

An acoustic piano and classical guitar composition, mainly in 6/8 and 3/4 time signatures, in the Baroque "chiaroscuro" style -- blending shades of light and darkness in the hopes of producing a unified whole.


Prescient Visions
 
"The whites, too, shall pass - perhaps sooner than other tribes. Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste. When the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses all tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with the scent of many men, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by the talking wires, where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone. And what is it to say goodbye to the swift and the hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.
 
We might understand if we knew what it was the white man dreams, what hopes he describes to his children on long winter nights, what visions he burns into their minds, so they will wish for tomorrow. But we are savages. The white man's dreams are hidden from us. And because they are hidden, we will go our own way. If we agree, it will be to secure your reservation you have promised.
 
There perhaps we may live out our brief days as we wish. When the last redman has vanished from the earth, and the memory is only the shadow of a cloud passing over the prairie, these shores and forests will still hold the spirits of my people, for they love this earth as the newborn loves its mother's heartbeat."
~ Chief Seattle, Letter to President Pierce in 1855

 
A reverie of Native American voices, featuring the Dinè (Navajo) peoples, percussion (drums, shakers, rattles, etc.), ocarinas, and flutes are fused with fretted and fretless bass guitar, two drum kits, electric violin, and numerous synth themes and beds.