THE MUSIC OF FRANK PERRY
TIBETAN SINGING BOWLS
Volume 6: All-Conquering Light
Volume 7: Himalayan Studies 1
Volume 8: Himalayan Studies 2
Volume 9: Himalayan Studies 3
Volume 10: Himalayan Studies 4
Volume 11: Himalayan Studies 5
Mountain Bell Music Recordings
(MBM CD 016 - 021)
As we enter the 21st century
we are, more than ever, surrounded by a plurality of musical styles even within
a particular type of music. Many would celebrate this diversity and innovation including the mixing of music from different cultures.
Another feeling is that the present age is a summing up or ossification of existing music;
yet others regard it as a process of disintegration of the underlying principles of the sound phenomenon we call "music."
To hear music that is truly "new" and expresses the awakening of the emerging Aquarian Age is rare. It means remaining faithful to the phenomenon of sound as a universal concept and thus also faithful to the acoustics produced by musical instruments and voices, while still finding a pathway that has not been trodden before. Such music often appears as primordial, ancient, shamanistic, ritualistic, archaic or simply religious and yet, at the same time, comes across as something contemporary or even futuristic. Essentially it is a
question of how deeply the world of archetypes is penetrated by the musicians
and composers. The further the veil is lifted from the higher worlds through music, the more it has the potential to be transformative and healing - music as both resonance and remembrance. There have been glimpses of this in Western music since the 1980s through the minimalists, isolated figures like Partch, Scelsi, Hovhaness and Catoire and the overtone tapestries of the Harmonic Choir.
Among these kinds of
musician-composers is Frank Perry, whose soundscapes of primarily metallic music are unique, haunting, mysterious, vibrant, shamanistic, meditative and ultimately healing. And these are not ordinary metals but the fine admixtures of Tibetan singing bowls, gongs and bells as well as an array of other metallic
instruments, many of them created by Perry himself with exotic names like Petalumines, Pyrahermeezees,
Trianguhermeezees, Ufoms and Sun Rays. His palette also extends to conch shell trumpets, bamboo flutes, strings of bells and various wind chimes not to mention his extraordinary vocal overtones and undertones.
Union of ancient and modern
Perry has to be described as a composer, albeit an improvising one, for the music feels structured as though pre-ordained. But this is the natural process of the true composer who psychically attunes himself, receives the messages and then proceeds to realize them in sound. How else can he create this sound world when there are so many instruments at his disposal. And the result is a complete union of the ancient and the modern as though a Tibetan monk had been transported to the West at a fairly early age and brought that kind of higher intellect to these sacred instruments. In that sense the music gives the impression that a Tibetan master is the intermediary for Perry’s music.
If you want to have the
experience of perceiving the "music of the spheres" then listening to
any of these albums would convey those sensations because some of the sounds
conjured up by Perry actually echo the sounds that NASA has detected being
emitted from the various electromagnetic fields of the planets. In fact, Dr Jeffery
Thompson, head of Brain/Mind research in California, has
proposed that the Tibetans projected their consciousness
out into space, heard these sounds and then captured them through their bowls
For all their otherwordliness, these beautifully structured improvisations remain true music with all its characteristics of form, changes of dynamics, counterpoint, colouration, slow pulsating rhythm and even harmony in the form of overtones. This super-spatial music has the power to move your consciousness into ever deeper places through five aspects - a full range of frequencies (from the deepest gongs to the very high bells) , the unusual tunings (certainly not equal temperament), the underlying slowness of pulse, the throbbing of the intermingled sounds and the silences.
Tuning the auric field
With regard to frequencies (rates of vibration) we forget that the wave forms are received by our auric field just as much as
they enter our ears and nervous system. So the sounds can reach the chakra system quite directly and the tunings offer to the subtle body a finer gradation of healing energy. The feeling of underlying pulse offers our biological systems the opportunity to entrain to it and move into a state of deep peace. The greatest aspect is in the beats or throbbing produced not only by the individual tones of instruments but also by the rubbing together of closely adjacent tones. These slow pulsations are equivalent to brain waves when moving away from a Beta (waking) state into an Alpha (highly
focused) and Theta (deeply meditative) state. So the aura of these sounds can alter the state of consciousness through entrainment and therein lies the ultimate magic of these albums.
Add to that also the silences wherein one can sense that the pulsations continue deep within,
offering the experience of one-pointed, full awareness alongside glimpses of the
unstruck sound of the nada yogi's. So this is not music to play simply to provide a sound atmosphere while engaging other activities. This is participatory music where the attention must be engaged.
These albums, recorded over the last two
years (with the exception of Himalayan Studies 5, which is a retrospective
beginning in 1972), are a rich tapestry of Perry’s sound world, a celebration of 40 years of music-making whose evolution has been enormous. Each album has a generous amount of music (77‘-79’) with 8-14 tracks. The division into tracks as in a suite (or "studies" to use Perry’s term) is useful for one could imagine choosing a certain order of tracks because of particular effects experienced and/or to create a specific duration of listening time. Each track has a picturesque title, a number of them inspired by an artist close to Perry’s heart, Nicholas Roerich.
Each album is its own
journey through the Akasha of both inner and outer space. So how is one
to choose among them? If there were elements that were highly prominent, then
that might be a way of deciding. But each is so varied in its own way, so it is
a good idea to visit Perry's website (www.frankperry.co.uk) and read more about
the individual tracks and also have a view of the paintings on which some of
them are based. It is probably best to purchase them through his website, each
costing £12 plus £1.75 p&p within the UK. Two London shops, Wilde Ones and
Mysteries, also carry them.
1) For more information on the NASA recordings, visit the Brain/Mind Research website.
James D'Angelo for Caduceus Magazine Winter 2005
James D’Angelo is a workshop leader within the field of sound healing and the author of the recently published book The Healing Power of the Human Voice. He can be contacted through his website