The Moon Series
The Moon Series: Moonrise, The Moon Behind A Cloud, Moonset
music & lyric by The Blackbird
Duduk: Karola Elßner
Voice, Nylon Guitar and Guitar Atmospheres: The Blackbird
mixed and mastered by Tom Lynn
produced by Greg Dinunzi
artwork by Alba Plaza
There are three songs on my CD Retro which I call The Moon Series. A prelude called Moonrise, The Moon Behind a Cloud, and finally a reprise called Moonset. I wanted the Moon energy to recur a few times on the album, like revisiting a character in a book. These are the three visible phases of our dear old friend.
Retro is a musical journey. I grew up listening to and loving albums like the Beatles “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band” and Pink Floyds “Dark Side of the Moon”. In those years we'd put an album on and listen beginning to end. An album was often a long form artistic creation which we called “Theme Albums” and Retro as a whole is a tribute to that type of writing. It's not hard to hear the influence of both the Beatles and Pink Floyd throughout the CD.
Another great influence on me was Peter Gabriel. When he founded Real World Records he began opening western ears to the ethnic sounds of Africa and the Middle East and gave musicians from the world music scene a chance to be heard by a larger audience. It was Gabriel's soundtrack to the “Last Temptation of Christ” where I first became truly aware of the Armenian instrument Duduk, as played by the master Djivan Gasparyan. It sounds much like a deep, rich wooden flute, though in reality it is a double reed instrument, and Duduk music always delivers me into a beautifully haunted, bittersweet sacred space.
As I began exploring the Spirit of the music which would become Retro, I felt very strongly that Duduk had an important role to play.
My dear friend and wonderful musician, Karola Elßner, not only plays the instrument, but holds Duduk and Armenian sacred music very closely to her heart. Traditionally, this kind of music is performed with two Duduks; one which plays and improvises melodically and one which sustains a drone note as a tonal basis. But my own interest was to create a new kind of musical accompaniment which might expanded this tradition, while still honoring the sacred spirit which Duduk carries.
In the Moonrise recording session I described a harmonic structure to Karola and she improvised her lines alone. Later I would compose an accompaniment for her improvisations, for which I used primarily classical guitar. We are both very proud of the result, and I hope this piece offers a new and loving environment to an ancient sacred music.
2. The Moon Behind A Cloud
“Many poets say that when it comes to poetic composition of the highest order, then a brooding sense of presence is felt, the poem happens to the poet, who with luck, skill and application, may be able to express it and write it down. Rather than the poet having an idea, it is a question of the Idea possessing the poet.”
- Gareth Knight, The Magical World of the Inklings
I experience The Blackbird as a co-creative process and I always have, even before I had the language to describe it. The Moon Behind A Cloud is a song which I came upon exactly as Gareth Knight describes in the above quote. The experience of “writing” The Moon Behind A Cloud was very much like working in a wakeful dream. I enter a creative and imaginative space and see what is there waiting. This song is the rare example of allowing the music to find me and being able to return with it in pristine condition. In this dreamspace the song presented itself fully intact: music, lyric and arrangement. A beautiful butterfly riding on my shoulder back from the Otherworld. Such inspirations are not necessarily rare, but what is rare is carrying them back in pure form to the daily world. It is much like waking from a dream - if I don't have a concrete record of the experience soon after it happens, the wave has gone by and the dream fades into a ghost of itself.
The Moon Behind A Cloud
The Moon Behind a Cloud, how it longs to lift that shroud
and shine it’s holy light into the hollow night
The ocean in the rain, how it swells and how it wanes
how it dances with the shore and seems to want no more
The trees reach for the sky, it’s the same with you and I
and the distance that I feel, a wound which longs to heal
It is because of such experiences that I want to acknowledge the intelligences and partnerships which I experience as part what The Blackbird is. I am in no way alone during the process, and in the work I present here I do my best to honor my many partners, seen and unseen, and I deeply appreciate their patience with me.
In our world, we occupy the daylight and electric light environments, but this is not our natural state. Our natural state also has a moonlit consciousness, and a sacred starlight awareness which is still within us. This is the reminder The Moon and I hope to bring back to the listeners of this series of songs. We are often disconnected from a peaceful and beautiful part of ourselves, a part which is in co-creative partnership with Nature in the largest sense of the word. This part of us does not seek domination, it seeks wholeness.
In the lyric of this song, the Moon and the trees yearn, and the ocean is content. My experience of this starlight awareness carries with it a felt sense of the living energy in Nature. Nature is not dead matter to be used by us, it is a living being, which may express it's life differently that you and I do, but lives nonetheless. In our enclosed electric light environments we have forgotten how to perceive the lives and livingness all around us. This is why we need moonlight in our lives. This is why we need quiet, peaceful spaces to reground ourselves. We need to experience dawn once in a while, enjoy a sunset, relax under starlight, listen to the ocean, walk in the forests. These places are our natural retreats, and if you reclaim your relationship to these places, you may find there to be more information in the whispering of the wind in the trees than you expect.
The times the curtains blown away, I catch a glimpse behind the day
the eyes which find me there look on and seem aware
With Moonset I wanted to revisit our guide, The Moon, one last time before the journey was over, so I wrote an additional verse to the music and created this reprise. Because the experience of Retro was coming to a close, I designed this song to be a bit further away from the ear of the listener, and set it also on a beach. It's something like riding off into the sunset. My other intent was to honor my “Muses”, as well as the feelings of both distance and intimacy I feel with them. This paradox continues to motivate me to reach into their world in search of wholeness, for I have come to believe that we are better together and we do belong by each other's side in a relationship of equals. I am always grateful for the honor of partnership with them.
The most difficult step in the beginning of my personal journey was learning to accept my own inner experiences as authentic. This is nothing superficial, it is real work, but with practice I am learning to embrace my perceptions as meaningful and if I feel a presence about me which is comfortable and feels respectful towards me, I do my best to send a little love back. The largest things sometimes grow from the smallest seeds.
Peace, Love and Wonder.