MYSTICAL STUDIES IN MUSIC
By Frank Perry
Photograph © Jill Furmanovsky (1980) from the ‘Living Room’ of my home at Priory Rd, Hornsey, North London.
Since the early Spring of 1968 I have been involved with developing specifically the art of musical improvisation. This originally meant working within a group context exploring collective, free-form, spontaneous group improvisation. However, I do feel that here the full potential has not been tapped and cannot be until the creative artists can unite in a more profound manner on the spiritual planes.
The original involvement with the techniques of improvisation arose from both a technical and a spiritual need. At the age of sixteen I found that I had the ability and the opportunity to develop trance mediumship (overshadowing) and in this I collaborated with my father who was also a trance medium.
This created a new need in my music, for I instinctively sought to find ways of expressing the qualities found during communion with the spirit world. I wanted to give back to life something of the great blessing which I had received.
It was soon apparent that this was only realistically possible within my solo performances where alone I could function upon several planes simultaneously and therefore integrate and synthesise the spiritual forces at work within the form of the music. Immediately, at the first solo concert, I was tremendously impressed by the remarkable unity and co-existence found to exist between sound and colour, as utilised by the communicating spiritual intelligences.
Shortly after this, a spirit helper was drawn to work with me because of the colours I generated on the inner planes during my playing. He was a Shamanistic Tibetan. His clothing, appearance, and degree of consciousness-attunement revealed him to have been upon earth several thousand years ago, before Buddhism came to Tibet. We had been together in that life. He assisted me greatly in the development of a deeper understanding of my instruments, my latent spiritual capacities and their potential use in drawing the power of inspirational qualities closer to the Earth. We didn’t converse through words, necessarily, but rather he would help me to clairvoyantly /clairaudiently observe what the effects of the were on the several levels, i.e. the etheric currents within the physical body and how they could be stimulated, the geometric patterns attracted to the higher or lower mental planes and the colours and aspirations evoked upon the astral plane.
He was primarily concerned with imparting an understanding of how various approaches to the instruments and their combinations could work together to effect a raising of consciousness within the listener. His teachings referred more to vibrations and frequencies and their relationship to certain states of consciousness than to the rhythmic or cyclic repetition of certain sounds more commonly associated with mantric practices.
The qualities of the actual instruments, both very old and rare pieces from Tibet, China, Japan, Burma, etc., and the newer inventions are intrinsic to the direction and unfoldment of the music. Apart from the actual harmonic structure and the frequencies to which these are attuned, several of them have a long sustain lasting up to five minutes in some cases after but one strike. Among my instruments there is a large horizontal Chinese gong; Burmese Tempe instruments (three bowl-chimes and two Kyeezee’s); a Tibetan meditation cymbal (at least 500 years old, made by a master of the Nyingmapa sect who lived in a Himalayan cave); Densho bells from a Japanese Zen Buddhist temple (Do-Myo); a Ming Dynasty Chinese Temple Bell; two Japanese ‘resting bells’; a pair of seventeenth century Chinese ritual cymbals and from Tibet a ‘singing bowl’, a ‘panic bowl’ and an extremely old ‘Talking Bowl’ brought over by a Tibetan master. I also have a special flat Tibetan bowl which has an inscription on the outside of its rim that reads: “On the surface of sound”.
There is a very large predominance of metal instruments, with no drums or percussion instruments of short duration. This has enabled me to explore the extended time and space spectrum of the musical form and the world of harmonics.
The musical form should act as a bridge to convey certain higher levels of consciousness and the will that radiates from such a source. My basic aim is to allow the music to originate from that still centre within. It is an attempt at a holistic music using only acoustic instruments from many times and places – a collection of very beautiful individuals – some with exceptional capacities for channeling very high energies being spiritually charged for centuries.
Taken from Kindred Spirit Vol. 1 No 8. 1989