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music and spirituality...

Discussion in 'Off Topic [DB]' started by TreeChild, Feb 13, 2006.

  1. TreeChild


    Feb 28, 2005
    Wimberley, TX
    is music a spiritual thing for anyone else here?
    and for the record im not religious; im spiritual.
    yes there is a difference.
  2. Just curious; what is the difference?
  3. TreeChild


    Feb 28, 2005
    Wimberley, TX
    well, in this case the difference is a matter of opinion. and personally, i feel that spirituality is more of a universal faith than religion. with religion there are rules and guidelines and how to lead a spiritual life. but spirituality on its own can mean what ever it needs to. to me spirituality is about freely accepting all of existance as one, and religion is about seperating it into groups by means of specific deities and laws. just my personal opinion.
  4. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine

    Performing music is a meditation for me. I find I commune best with "that which is" in those moments when I'm playing most deeply in the zone. To me my musical talent is a gift. Playing is the ultimate expression of my spiritual purpose on this planet. As I do those things that are required for me to move closer to "the divine" my playing improves. As I improve my playing my relationship to the "great it" becomes rich.

    Dogmatic concerns are human constructions and for me are not required for expression of the spiritual. They are useful guidelines for good living and I have no issue with those that find spiritual comfort within dogmatic structures. It is short sighted to disdain the concept of metaphysical experience outside of dogma. The metaphysical spiritual experience of "thou are that" is common to most religious structures as Aldous Huxley points out in The Perennial Philosophy (see below).

    There are many ways to experience ones relationship with "God". My most profound expression of that relationship is found in my music.

    (The Perennial Philosophy is "the metaphysic that recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with, divine Reality; the ethic that places man's final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being -- the thing is immemorial and universal. Rudiments of the Perennial Philosophy may be found among the traditionary lore of primitive peoples in every region of the world, and in its fully developed forms it has a place in every one of the higher religions."(Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy, Harper & Brothers, 1945).
  5. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I mark no difference between music and spirituality.

    I went through the common stages of rabid atheism in my early teens (13-15 or so,) researching various religions etc. when I was 16, and for the past year and a half or so, I've kind of settled into a state of non-theistic spirituality. Balance in all things -- mind and body (hence losing almost 50lbs since April 05) being one example. Like Phil, playing music is kind of a way I express it all. When it's really swinging with the big band or my quintet, or when it's just grooving in a pocket so deep you could lay down in it, it can become my equivalent of a religious experience.
  6. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Music is capable of communicating any message people want to deliver, ranging from, "I love you" to "I love this moment" to "Damn, ain't I good?" to "I want to remove all your clothing right now" to "Eighty bucks! Eighty bucks! Eighty bucks! Eighty bucks!"

    I aim for a spiritual experience and sometimes it's there. But -- and this is especially true in improvised music -- you can't truthfully communicate what's not there for you at that moment. Much of the time when I play, I'm not in a frame to communicate some deep moment of spirituality.

    Hi again, Aaron. Sorry if it seems like I'm following you around this morning; it's not on purpose.

    For me one distinction is that spirituality is an individual struggle with occasional (perhaps even weekly) group support. In contrast, music -- particularly for bassists -- is an effort to work in a group to attain that which cannot be reached alone.
  7. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    I want playing music to be a spiritual experience...I really do. That's one of the big reasons I started in the first place. Over the years, I ran into all the typical pedestrian things that you find in this business and it does kind of stymie that feeling. Having a separate career to cover the expenses of life sure helped me, though. Allowed me to pick and choose the situations in which I play...and therefore I can weed out the more pedestrian things that ruin the spiritual experience.

    Some may laugh at this, but one of the things I've enjoyed about the bluegrass/roots music world is that people seem to be so much more passionate about what they do than in other styles. It may be lots of simple stuff, but those folks are damn happy about it. :hyper:
  8. The big difference for me is that music is just something that I do; My spirituality is something that I am. We can label one side "free-er" than the other, religion or spirituality, but the point at which they intersect is the understanding that there is another world present with this one from which strings are pulled, or worthless commands ignored.

  9. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Yea, me too. I shouldn't sound like a monk. I'm far from it. I so rarely get to talk about the spiritual with my fellow players. Usually its a discussions about the waitress and after hours fantasies.
  10. TreeChild


    Feb 28, 2005
    Wimberley, TX
    wow, thats wonderful. thank you for the response. i agree.
  11. benjbass


    Jan 14, 2006
    Long Beach, CA
    Hello friends, I cannot resist chiming in - I have been a spiritual seeker to varying degrees for years, encompassing my own personal battles that needed overcome, i.e. my path to sobriety. Without going into my life story (and I am far from sainthood!) I would like to say that my recent renewed dedication to daily meditation has "ramped up" my playing rather dramatically - my concentration and processing of the quicker jazz charts has become more effortless, and my right-hand technique has started opening up - last night on the gig I was "suddenly" able to incorporate this little three-finger triplet thing that I've been messing with for a long time but could never incorporate practically. I surprised myself with it once, and then double-checked and ended up using it consistently in a pattern throughout the song! This is pretty exciting for me...

    Also I've quit smoking cigarettes.

    Holism - mind, body, spirit - the three are inextricably intertwined, and all require development and nurturing.

    A healthy mind, body, AND spirit are making me a better bassist!

    peace to all
  12. I can really dig on this. If you've ever read Kenny Werner's book Effortless Mastery he talks about people that define their lives as music need to look beyond music, that music is just a tiny part of life. Now I love music as much as anybody but that is deep in that music is something we love to do not really ALL of who we are. I think it can be a spiritual thing but not is the sense of because you are playing music it is spiritual but that centering your mind allows you to feel have a spiritual feeling. With that in mind I suppose that doing the dishes can be spiritual. Just my 2 ideas.
  13. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Good goin', Benj.
  14. B. Graham

    B. Graham Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    I've not posted enough here to be particularly known by you kind folks, and I fail to be as articulate as I'd like in the newsgroup-ish/online community forums, but here goes, I'll share my thoughts:

    I feel that I am spiritual. I also know that I am religious, specifically a Christian. Thankfully, in my heart and mind, the two can co-exist and do in me. Since I'm a musician then I'd have to say I am a spiritual one.

    What I am most pleased about with where I am right now in all of this, is that I've learned that I'm quite simply, me. I happen to attribute who and what I am to a particular entity. I didn't believe for a long time that it was possible to have the spiritual/religious beliefs that I do, and still dig avant-garde/experimental stuff, be an old punk rocker, continue to struggle with cussing and smoking, etc. Thankfully, I've learned differently. I'm me, I believe what I do, and I play bass. It's good.

    Point is I suppose, is that we're what and who we are. Being a musician is great, but it's not actually who I am. I've had trouble throughout my life when I indentified myself too much with what I did.

    See, I told you I couldn't explain this very well.

    Thanks for the bravery to bring up the sbuject in the first place.
  15. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio

    To chime in on the original question "Is music a spiritual thing for anyone else here?"... the majority of people I've met in the creative world (musicians, luthiers, actors, writers, woodworkers, chefs, artists, etc.) go at their craft because it brings them closer to either themselves, or (ideally) the world around them. It certainly isn't for the pay! Maybe I'm not cynical enough, but spirituality is what keeps us waking up and saying "I'm going to create something today."
  16. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I dunno... to categorically say I play music mainly for the reason that I'm spiritual is a little silly. Maybe for others, but not for me. It's a little too PC/grandiose/warm-fuzzy for my tastes. It smells of "I need to validate my playing by giving it a raison d'etre".

    I play because I like to play. I practice cuz I like improving on my playing. I like being to physically materialize the sounds in my head with little effort. It makes me feel good and it's fun.

    If I want to meditate, I'll sit down and meditate. If I happen to learn something spiritual or express such through music, then it's purely coincidental. It just so happens that I'm spiritually open at the same time.

    Personally, I don't think it's fruitful to go seeking enlightenment through any particular activity really, except maybe worship but even then I'm not so sure. I think it just happens from being aware, keeping your eyes and heart open right where you are. Be here now.

    EDIT: Come to think of it... I don't really call myself spiritual anymore. Actually I think I've gone back to being more existential than anything. I think some of the stuff we normally link with "The Divine" is actually more like "Magic" cuz we don't understand the invisible limitations we've built up around us that prevents us from attaining those things. Ok enough of that... I'll save it for the Talkbass Lounge. :D
  17. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio

    That last paragraph is really more of what I'm talking about. Spirituality isn't something that is saved for candles, sundays, and the right lighting. It's a day-in-and-day-out thing. But my main point is that we play music because it makes us feel good, entertains others, and not for the money... although we still need to make a living and pay the bills.
  18. John Sprague

    John Sprague Sam Shen's US Distributor

    Mar 10, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Sales Manager, CSC Products Inc.
    Go on Sam, give yourself a raise! Ninety bucks! Ninety bucks! Ninety bucks!

    I have a different feeling about spirituality I guess. Bear with me, I deal basses but I play drums, so life is more simple for me ;). I view any of the perceptions I have of the world, the vibes of the universe, or the times when I feel lucky to witness perfection in this life as simply occuring between my own ears, part of how the mind works. And fleeting. But I seek that feeling of belonging to it all just the same. By saying well hey it's just going on in my head and the green grass outside doesn't care what I just played, by no means lessens my need to feel the sound of the drum vibrate thru a maple stick into my hands.

    And that's as spiritual as I get. :)
  19. TreeChild


    Feb 28, 2005
    Wimberley, TX
    spirituality is a lot of different things for a lot of people. a couple of you have said that spirituality is sort of a day to day normal thing: washing the dishes can be meditation. i agree with this. which brings me to the point of this: we are humans, and in being human everything we see, experience, and know is subject to intepretation of our senses. what this means is that we have the choice of wether or not to make things like doing the dishes meditaion. kinda forgot where i was going with that. anyway; for me personaly when i play music i forget about being a human being, i feel like i am totaly connected with existance. i beileive that playing music connects us with the true nature of the universe, which is creativity.

    but after all, that is only a human iterpretation.
  20. All_¥our_Bass


    Dec 26, 2004
    Yes, music is often a very spiritual thing for me. I will often mediate to songs. Usually Pink Floyd or Tool. My favorite state of being is when I'm in deep thought with my eyes closed and only vaguely aware of my body. I feel so wonderfly free to wander amist my thoughts.