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Tuning into the Muse of Music: Being in the Moment: 1965 and 2015

Steven Halpern

Tuning into the Muse of Music: Being in the Moment: 1965 and 2015 by Steven Halpern

Column: Sound Matters

I’d like to begin with a note of gratitude. Thank you to all of you who sent healing vibes and prayers my way. Compared to how I felt when I wrote last month’s newsletter, I’m doing much better. I still have a long way to go, of course, and repairing the fractured teeth will take months, but I know how worse the damage could have been.


That seems to be a metaphor for so much of what’s been going down in the world lately. As a sound healer, part of my mission in life is to create an ongoing series of recordings that tune into the zeitgeist and manifest meditative soundtracks that serve multiple functions for healing, stress relief and inner peace. Based on the way the music arrived, I believe my latest release, Mindful Piano, is the latest part of that series.


But before I share some additional insights on the extra-musical benefits of Mindful Piano, I need to address the unexpected transition of Dr. Mitchell Gaynor.


He was scheduled to speak at the Globe Sound Healing conference, and I was looking forward to following up on previous conversations we shared some years ago. Like everyone else, I was shocked to read the reports of his reported suicide in September 16th. While we still await further details, you might find the official story of interest: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/20/health/mitchell-l-gaynor-59-manhattan-oncologist-and-advocate-for-alternative-treatments-dies.html


Dr. Gaynor was an integrative oncologist whose protocols in working with his cancer patients combined traditional medicine with crystal bowls, chanting and nutrition.


I wish all of you could hear the entire panel discussion that Dr. Gaynor was scheduled to be part of during the conference. I hope this panel will be transcribed so that you could more readily understand the challenges sound healers, and researchers in many fields, face. If not, follow up next time with the best of what the panelists, Dr. Jim Oschman, Dr. Jeffrey Thompson, and conference organizer and sound healer David Gibson had to say about the politics and economics of research in this field. (In many ways, it’s similar to what goes on in many other fields, but that’s another newsletter) To hear these and other speakers, I recommend the MP3 and DVD recordings of the entire conference, now available from HungryMindRecordings.com


Here’s an overview: when you read statements like, “There’s no published research proving your hypothesis,” that’s disingenuous at best. There IS research, but the gatekeepers at the journals that count generally accept papers only from brand-name universities and not a community college. That does NOT mean there is NO research. It’s a classic Catch-22.


Cosmic coincidence?  One minute after finishing this newsletter, an email arrived from Health Freedom Alliance with an astounding headline and feature article. The editor-in-chief of The Lancet, one of the most respected medical journals in the world, writes, “Half of the scientific literature is false, due to studies with invalid analyses, small sample size, and flagrant conflicts of interest.”  Wow. I can hardly wait to see the reaction to this bombshell. 


50 Years Ago Today: Tuning in to the Muse of Music


My life as a musician took a quantum leap when I attended an unamplified jazz concert in the faculty lounge of the Student Union at the University of Buffalo. The band was phenomenal, exploring the same dynamic dimensions as John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner.


I was sitting on the floor near the band, with my trumpet case, as always, by my side. At one point, the leader, pianist Jack Clarke, a force of nature on many levels, looked over at me and asked, “Is that a trumpet in that case?” I nodded. I would soon learn that he was a leading scholar of William Blake, Charles Olson and an award-winning poet in his own right.


He said something like, “Come on up and sit in.” So I did. When it was my time to solo, I began to play some of my best riffs. Then, suddenly, I was enveloped in a whirlwind of sound. I remember feeling that the trumpet was an organic extension of my anatomy, rather than a horn with metal tubing. For the first time, it was as if the instrument was playing itself. I played things I had never played before. I was virtually levitating.


At the end of the song, Jack looked over at me and smiled. He knew what had just happened. I had just been initiated into a whole new world of creativity and power. That was to be the beginning of being part of his inner circle of poets, musicians and philosophers, and of being part of the ‘house band’ for many memorable events throughout my college days.


Coming Full Circle: Insights into Music, Mindfulness and the Present Moment


The music you’ll hear on Mindful Piano began with the intention to record just one new song, to be added as a bonus track to my album Legacy, my solo piano anthology originally released in 1997. (Legacy had been out of print for ten years, and was originally scheduled to be re-mastered and re-released in mid-2015.)  


But as soon as I sat down at the piano and began listening to my proprietary brainwave entrainment soundtrack, I unexpectedly—and delightfully—shifted into a high-coherence level of consciousness in which sound and space became living entities.


The entire album channeled through as essentially a continuous download. Our brains are wired to analyze and predict melodic and harmonic structure. That keeps us hung up in the future. Mindful Piano shuts down that analytical mode, and within seconds, you’re in the zone of mindful awareness. This is a breakthrough album on several levels. In my opinion, that will become apparent to you if you allow yourself to listen with intention and attention. Especially with headphones, you’ll hear the actual ‘sound’ of the piano is richer and more harmonically ‘alive’ than any other album you’ve ever heard.


The Universal Tone


Remember how Carlos Santana describes the Universal Tone in his autobiography of the same name?  “It’s a texture…it’s a way of using sound to connect with the divine in all of us.” That’s what my teachers have always told me, too. Not surprising, since he and I share many of the same teachers, including Hazrat Inayat Khan, John Coltrane and Dr. J. J. Hurtak, author of The Keys of Enoch, which I helped proofread.


The Next-Gen celestial cathedral reverb field that my recording engineer, Warren Kahn, created for the first time during our sound check transforms each ‘note’ into a living ‘tone’. I had to change my pianistic approach, to allow the time for each note to smoothly fade into silence before I could hear the next phrase in my inner ear.


Note: You won’t want to drive while listening, but when you’re comfortable and stationery; Mindful Piano will anchor you in the Now, the present Moment of mindful awareness. This is a musical expression of what Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra eloquently express as “the gap between thoughts” and “the field of infinite possibilities.” I demonstrate the unconscious analysis of music in my video Scalus Interruptus YouTube (https://youtu.be/-Ml8KiWH_1E)


Yours in the present moment,
Steven Halpern


Steven Halpern is the Grammy-nominated composer, producer and brainwave entrainment researcher who Keyboard magazine recognizes as “The first and definitive New Age keyboardist.”His latest releases are Mindful Piano and Among Friends: 1975-2015 (A 40-Year Retrospective)