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The Path To Awakening

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The Path To Awakening :

I usually make it a point to not exert my academic facility when it comes to music. Even as a teacher. However, I find this particular composition to require something of an explanation not only from a musical but also a philosophical stand point.

It's easy to assume that someone who uses technology to make music has no conception of compositional development. It is also easy to assume that most people who make music using technology have no grasp of harmonic relationship, rhythmic displacement, or any other device an "educated musician" would use to create music. I think the general public has a consensual but lazy notion that one can just push a button and create instant music. Like most misconceptions, a general assumption that technology can compensate for lack of skill and knowledge in any area is supremely ignorant. Dare I say, it is also extremely destructive.

With all of our technology available at our fingertips we have not solved problems that have plagued human existence probably since our inception. How could we when dominant motive seems to be self distraction?

Like any new development, once in the hands of the public there is a potential for attainment of the highest universal ideals or for it sink way past our basest of predilections. I think its safe to say the later has been the dominant direction. I just wonder how many people ponder that in their daily lives. I think about it every day. It inspires me to want to be better. I hardly succeed at that but I think the effort is what counts to me.

About The Composition:

I am currently in the process of reacquainting myself with the various religions of the world in a effort to gain more understanding about myself and my neighbors from different cultures who practice a variety of faiths.

During this period I was reminded of the journey of Siddhartha from living the comfortable life of a prince, to a wandering ascetic, to what we refer to as The Buddha or "The Awakened One". Though I don't call myself a Buddhist, the story has always resonated with me since reading Siddhartha by Herman Hesse as well as Jack Kerouac's Wake Up. I also began meditating around the age of sixteen and have found it invaluable in my life. There is a misconception that you must be a Buddhist or a Hindu practitioner in order to enjoy the benefits of meditation. Meditation is something that anyone from any religious or philosophical background can enjoy. I highly recommend it.

In the first movement of this piece I attempted to put into music an idea from the Four Noble Truths that life is suffering. There are many ways to interpret this but what I am starting to conceptualize is that our identification with ego is essentially what creates a sense of suffering, or dissatisfaction. I am certainly not immune to this dissatisfaction and have yet to meet someone who I feel genuinely is free from it. Musically, one can hear the very angular guitar melody some grating #9/13 chords against a very harmonically and rhythmically contrapuntal bass line. In addition I attempted to create some slightly industrial rhythms using a variety of percussion instruments. The theme in the beginning is quite dark but slightly comical to me like paying attention to the thoughts that run through your head from time to time. As we progress through the first movement we hear some tritone melodic movement giving the piece an even more sinister effect.

Our second movement is much more spacious but no less sinister. In my mind I likened this to Siddhartha wandering the world as an ascetic, forcing himself through many trials to push his mind, body, and spirit. Harmonically this is an interesting section. Initially I had the intent to move strictly in minor thirds but accidentally I moved back from my starting point and descended in thirds.

The third movement depicts Siddartha sitting underneath what is now called the Bodhi tree. It is said this is where Siddhartha defeated the demon Mara, gained enlightenment and became The Buddha. Melodically we can hear much more spaciousness and we can also hear the tone of the piece changing to major implying a more peaceful and optimistic outlook.

There are many great books and lectures about Buddhism if one is so inclined to investigate it further. I would hope that you are also open and curious about religion and philosophical outlooks from all over the world.

-Joe DeVita