Perry, Mystery of Tibet
Il Cittadino di Lodi – Wednesday, March 29th 2000
Tibetan bells and singing bowls, made with metal alloy, create sounds able to heal.
PERRY, MYSTERY FROM TIBET The musician plays nine centuries old instruments
“His name is Frank Perry and he is a very original artist: he is great and big like Obelix and he is as nice the same. He started playing music as a percussionist in Jazz and nowadays is considered a spiritual master more than a musician. He has recorded 54 albums. In Milan, at Fringes Festival, he has performed last March 8th: he has been introduced as master of sacred sound. In his performances he plays tens of instruments, many of them are even nine centuries old. The Tibetan bells and the singing bowls made of metal alloy that create mysterious sounds able to heal the spirit and the body, are utilised since ancient times to balance the chakras (centres of the energy that are present in the human body), following ancient astrological and initiation laws. His voice, also, is able to create multiple sounds (the Overtone chant, in Mongolian style). His performance has availed itself also of evocative images painted by the visionary Russian painter Nicholas Roerich (born 1874, died 1947): yogis on the top of stratospherical mountains, impressive desert vastnesses. Roerich uses colours not only in a pictorial sense, but clearly using esoteric values (the same probably contained in Tibetan Mandalas). Frank Perry let us enter this magical and mysterious universe, where sounds and colours and every little particle of the cosmos seems to be connected with the galaxies’ breath, accepting to answer to some questions:
“How would you introduce yourself to an audience that does not know anything about you?”
“As a strange percussionist that used to give importance to the rhythm, to the act of hitting an instrument, and that has changed his mind thanks to the sound of the sacred Tibetan bowls. Their sound lasts a long time and in a church they can fill the space – sounding like a big orchestra. You can loose yourself in the language of the sacred bowls: it is music that lives IN sound.”
“How did you start to play music?”
“At school, at the age of sixteen, I heard someone playing a rhythm on the desk (He starts now beating on his legs very complicated rhythms, with great naturalness.) I could do it immediately. I had a natural ability, an independence of my hands. I took two minutes of instruction (the only lesson in my life) and the school drummer told me at the end: “You’d better start playing! Get some sticks, you can go”. He told me it had taken him 5 years to get to that level.”
“Do you think that vibrations and music could save the world?”
“Nothing can change the world, as each of us has freewill. Nothing, apart from love: I try to put love and beauty in my music. Actually, it is possible to heal with sound vibrations; it is a form of Nada Yoga that marks out the “inner sound” and the “external sound”, or, rather the “struck” sound and the “unstruck” sound, or ‘Anahata’ sound. This is related to the chakra of the heart (Anahata Chakra): for example, years ago, while I was meditating amongst nature, I heard the sound of trees. That is an “unstruck” sound. Every human being creates an ‘unstruck’ sound that is the same for everybody: it is a mystic sound, sounds that nobody produces but that one can perceive. With the “western ear” it is nearly impossible to get to this kind of perception.”
Before answering, Frank Perry thinks in a very attentive way, calmly reflects as he tastes the emotions that come on his mind. He tells without emphasis his spiritual passages, his route. Besides his human sympathy he emanates a great calm that is communicated to people around him. He does not fear not to be believed: he seems to have passed the phase when “if you want to convince someone, you have to grow heated”. Sometimes he laughs, and his laugh reveals a gentle soul.
“Which has been your greatest emotion as a player?”
“In 1973 I was recording with Ovary Lodge in a recording studio; Robert Fripp was present, as he was our producer. We were playing for a long time and suddenly we stopped: we felt that nothing was happening. I stayed behind and began to play alone. Fripp saw that something was happening and kept the tape running (“Amethyst, Gold, and Royal Blue, My way of Saying Thank You” Ovary Lodge RCA/Victor). I saw before me the Master Jesus and played for Him. This has been my greatest musical emotion.”
“May a sound evolve with your breath? And, if the answer is yes, how?”
“No. Breath is not connected with the spirits contained in instrumental sounds. Also, when I play I am not conscious of my body or of my breath. Rather, I experience the instruments becoming extensions of my being. Prior to a concert I try to take time to breathe deeply, in order to strengthen the forces of reception (the Yin-feminine energy), I purify myself in order to follow the sound to its home and to understand it. I cleanse myself in order to receive the sound and a concert, for me, is like a party with some friends (sounds).”
“Did you travel to the East?”
“I did not travel to the East, but in 1971 I remembered I had had 10 incarnations in Tibet. I asked help to my spiritual master to find a way to express my past lives, and two years after I received the reply. A Tibetan yogi phoned me, telling me that he had to give me an ancient cymbal. I did not know anybody that came from Tibet, and did not know anything about this yogi. The yogi brought me as a gift a little metal cymbal, nine centuries old. From it, a blue-white sound-light flowed out, strong as lightning, that cleaned my inner ears and changed my life. From that moment on, I could not play sacred Eastern instruments in jazz anymore. Instruments came back to me, which were strongly connected with Ritual. Then, a Tibetan disembodied came to teach me music and vocal technique. He explained me the ethereal forms of sounds, with which colours they are related and which thoughts they can create. Who knows why, it is difficult for people to admit the presence of a spiritual guide.” It is difficult as well to explain why a London man, great jazz musician could get in a wonderful way a vocal and instrumental technique that is very mysterious to Western people.
“What would you like people say about you?”
“(Smiling ironically and after a deep breath) That I was honest”.