Category Archives: music

On the Nature of Persons

1/4/11

Fryderyk hadn’t been around for a couple of weeks, and I was starting to feel lonesome. I “rang his phone” a number of times during the day, and then late in the evening, while I was reading in bed, he visited.

A little while before that I had seen a video about Jay Greenberg, a young composer and pianist with near-miraculous abilities, someone it seemed Fryderyk might be able to relate to, a good topic of conversation. The boy was only 12 at the time the 60 Minutes excerpt I saw was made, but he had already written a huge amount of music, and even as prodigies go, he was positively scary. For example, at the age of 2 he’d started asking for a cello, although his parents were not musicians and he’d never been exposed to such a thing, and he started drawing wobbly staves on paper and putting notes on them. When he was given a cello, at age 3, he could play it right away.

I told Fryderyk what I had seen and asked if he had anything to say about it. Many of us see reincarnation as a likely explanation for such extreme abilities in children, and indeed, in the Leslie Flint tapes, the Chopin entity had talked about his efforts at music in other lives, and being ready to hit the ground running in the 19th century because of that preparation. Michael Tymn* favors another theory, that the spirits of deceased adults who had developed their abilities in the arts during their lives “overshadow” and take control of these children, using them to express their own work. What did Fryderyk think about that?

First, he gave me to know that I was looking at the matter from the wrong angle. This happens rather a lot– at least he no longer insists that I’m not listening to him! The idea of a person having different lives in sequence was incorrect. I don’t think of time as linear, myself, so I was fine with that. This part was fairly incoherent, with a sense of rushing energies and various ideas flying at me at once. I struggled to pin it down. “What are you?” I asked for the zillionth time. As has happened before, I saw a flame– same thing you and I are, of course. When I tried visualizing a child artist, such as himself, and asked about other spirits floating around trying to control it, I got nothing.

I was able to pick out the thought that the rushing lights and colors represented a person and its activities and creations, and that the person was an extensive being that existed in many forms and did many things at once, so to speak. He seemed to be using the term “person” (at least as I was hearing it) to mean a total entity including what we might call the Higher Self and any and all individual, earthly lives or personalities. I would be more likely to use that word to mean one of those individual personalities, myself. So I asked him to elaborate on what a person was, in his view.

This time I got words. “A person is an outpouring from God,” he told me. Along with that, I received feelings and visual flashes of a kind of river of light and fire. I still wanted to know more about how he saw the relationship between the different parts of the larger entity.

He explained, “The person is a force which pushes out in all directions, and those directions look like separate lives.” This sounded a lot like the concept described by the Seth entity years ago, in books like The Nature of Personal Reality. It also sounded so good that I wanted to be sure to remember it. I turned a light on and hunted around for my notebook and pencil, which would normally be right by my bed, but dang, I had cleaned my room and moved them. By the time I’d written the sentence down, the contact was broken. As I had feared. I wanted to ask him something about his own larger being, but there was no more communication to be had.

 

* Find his blog here, with links to his books: 
http://whitecrowbooks.com/michaeltymn/

 

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Filed under channeling, music, past lives, spirit communication, spirituality

Talking with Chopin About Music and Possibilities

Nokturn by Jerzy Głuszek

For years I have been collecting the helpful, fascinating and sometimes perplexing thoughts on music that I’ve received from my currently solidity-challenged composer friend. Every time I’ve gotten close to putting it all together in a nicely packaged presentation, more has come along, and I’ve delayed trying to finish it. My understanding has also changed over time, so that I’ve had to rewrite some sections. I’m thinking that I’d better start sticking the individual bits into some posts or they will never see the light of day.

A lot of what I’ve learned has been specifically about playing the piano and about performance practice, and unlikely to be of much interest to the non-pianist reader. I’ll put that material in another post. Today’s entries are more generally about music and about how it relates to other aspects of our lives, though there is still some nerd stuff.

 

6/28/10

[A friend who has since died] indicated, while I was doing acupuncture for her, that something major in her life was “disgusting.” I was getting signals of disagreement from our Sources about that, being told that it was necessary for her to integrate this part of her life and deal with it quite differently. Fryderyk was coming in strongly at my right, and I asked what he wanted to say. I saw a vibrating column of light, and the ideas associated with it were like this:

Everything is a vibration, a frequency. And what is a frequency? It’s a note. There are not good notes or bad notes, there are just notes. It’s a matter of how they’re put together. In your case, he had me tell her, you’re in the middle of playing a piece that’s already been written, maybe even near the end of it, but you can still improvise. And if you don’t like this piece, play something else.
10/26/10, after returning from a trip to Poland and across Europe to France during Chopin’s 200th birthday year:

A while back, I think in early September, I asked Fryderyk about that pesky measure on the second page of the D flat nocturne, Op. 27 No. 2, where suddenly the left hand adds an extra voice. I’m talking about measure 23, where we find an F and an E marked with extra stems with eighth note bars. The “Paderewski” edition notes say that he implied that something similar was going on in the few measures before and after this, but there is no evidence for this that I can see. My understanding from him is that he meant this notation only in this one measure; he was not saying to do the same thing in other parts of this passage. However, I’m still not entirely clear why he brings in that extra voice.

I couldn’t get a very good reading on this matter, but there was something like “adding an extra dimension” or “making it 3D.” He told me that there were other similar instances later in the piece. I was directed to look at the last page. I was in bed at the time, ready to go to sleep, so I didn’t go to check out the page till the next day.

What I noticed then was measures 64 and 68, in which he makes a dotted quarter note out of the first D flat in each arpeggio pattern. This appears superfluous, since the pedal is held and those notes will sound all the way through the pattern anyway. He seems to want extra emphasis on these notes. It’s all the more perplexing because, as Jeff Kallberg [musicologist and expert on Chopin’s work] pointed out, the different manuscripts have the dotted quarter notes or not, or have the dot in measure 64 but not 68.

When I next had the chance to communicate with my disembodied teacher, I dutifully reported that I had looked through the rest of the piece for instances of extra voices coming in temporarily, and that I had found the above. I heard, “If you point out something to someone, they will then start seeing it everywhere,” which was objectively true but didn’t seem very helpful or significant! Attempting to understand the dotted quarters, I held an image of measures 64 and 68 in my mind, and there was an interesting visual effect. The notes became literally 3D; the dotted quarters moved to the front of the image, and others took places in two other layers before my mental eyes. I felt that I did have a certain understanding of what he was after. Sort of. (Later, when I had a chance to experiment at the piano, I found it was pretty easy to bring those bass notes forward or push them a layer or two back, and it does add contrast compared with similar figures in other parts of the piece.)

I apologized for bothering him about such a picky detail. “Since you took the trouble to write it that way, I figure it’s important, and I want to understand it,” I explained.

His reply was something I would like us all to keep in mind, and wish I could convey to the folks who are selling Chopin pencils, Chopin chocolates, tours of his birthplace, etc. etc. Imagine a kind of sigh of resignation along with this statement:

“Not everything I do is important.”

I found this hilarious.

I had another question, having to do with my efforts to memorize some of the pieces of his that I’d been playing for years. To me, a lot of the ornaments and fioriture are surprising, in that one might expect that the ornamental stuff would get more intense and complex as the piece goes on, and it doesn’t necessarily do that. The seemingly random nature of these bits makes memorization more difficult, at least for the likes of me. Which way did he do it this time?? It’s so unpredictable.

The answer to this was so obvious that I should have seen it myself. He didn’t want to be predictable. He wanted to surprise us and keep us guessing, keep our ears and fingers engaged.

 

I had begun this conversation asking for his advice and assistance in treating a mutual friend. We had had considerable trouble working with her before; although she had gotten considerable improvement in some areas, treatments were strangely hard on her. The last time we had done a session, we had tried something different, and instead of her being ill for a while afterward, I was. I felt we needed a new strategy. Fryderyk told me, “Let go of obstacles.”  I thought that was interesting because we don’t think of obstacles as something we hang on to.  Yet I know I do that. That measure in 27/2 with the 48 notes in the right hand is probably a good example. It’s easy to hang on to the idea of its being difficult, whereas perhaps we could hold the thought of making it easy and fluid instead.

“Let go of wanting to prove yourself” was another thought that came up. Not easy either.
[unknown date]

The 48-note fioritura in 27/2 is a particular bête noire for me and I’m sure for a lot of other players. At one point, terminally frustrated with such things, I asked Fryderyk what made him decide on 48 notes or 17 or 23 or whatever strange number comes up in those passages, which can be so inconvenient to play, since they usually don’t match up mathematically with the other hand’s part.  He showed me a curving ribbon shape that represented the musical line as it existed in time and space. The number of notes given exactly filled up the length of the ribbon. So there were exactly as many notes as were needed, no more and no less. Just enough. Obvious to him!

 

~11/15/10

One of the things I’m enjoying about the lute practice [for my album of Polish Renaissance pieces] is that, even though it’s one of my “Chopin Year” projects, it has nothing to do with him whatsoever, and I can have it all to myself!  I got to wondering, though, whether Fryderyk might be familiar with any of those old Polish tunes.  I was thinking that back then they tended to be involved with mostly the music of their own time or not too long before, and that most people were not even paying attention to Bach or works of his time, let alone anything earlier, so the Renaissance and early Baroque tunes probably weren’t on their radar.  The response I received to my question about this sounded a bit miffed.  After all, he had gone to school, he pointed out.  The Warsaw Conservatory had copies of works like this in its library, and he had been able to explore them that way, and for heaven’s sake, did I think he wasn’t educated?

No, of course I didn’t think that, and the image of him leafing through dusty old copies made a pleasing connection for me.  “Oh, I used to love poking around stuff like that in the libraries at YSU and UNM!” I enthused.

I asked whether one heard folk music much in the city, or if one had to go out to the country to experience it.  I was given to know that this was also a fairly dumb question, because people from the city spent time in the country and vice-versa, like the young country gentlemen who roomed with his family, so the same people might often be found in both places.  I kept my mouth shut about the fact that the downtrodden peasants didn’t get a chance to go much of anywhere.  My question was not really so dumb!

I was trying to ask whether there were written sources of folk music around, or whether he learned that stuff by ear, when I fell asleep.

When I woke up this morning, it occurred to me that young Fryc would have been quite unable to read any lute tablature that might have been lying around at the Conservatory. However, he may well have tried some organ tablature and so become acquainted with composers such as Jan of Lublin.  I’d like more details.

 

12/30/13

Last night Fryderyk visited when I was about to go to sleep. I told him that I was trying to prepare a mini-recital for a friend and that things hadn’t been going too well that evening. “New things keep going wrong all the time!” I complained. “I can’t take care of my mistakes because they’re so inconsistent and I never know what’s going to happen.”

Well, at least this time he didn’t hand me the usual “You’re looking at this all wrong” or “You’re asking the wrong question.” He began with a clear sentence in his bumpy sort of English, but I can’t recall it– I knew I’d kick myself in the morning if I didn’t get out of bed and write down his exact words, since I was getting a definite verbal message, but I decided to stay where I was. He told me that of course new things keep happening, because a piece of music has so many possibilities within it. He showed me something similar to what he’d conveyed sometime last year, which I described in my post “Wait. Show Up. Enjoy.”   https://elenedom.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/wait-show-up-enjoy/   A piece of music is a kind of three-dimensional environment in which one can live and move about. (Yes, time does add a fourth dimension, but the image is three-dimensional.) I saw myself in the center of this matrix, with threads spreading out in all directions.

He seemed excited about this field of possibilities. Wow, you can do anything you want! I, in contrast, felt rather small in the midst of it all. He spoke encouragingly, something to the effect that I should tug and pull on those threads to shape the music the way I wanted it to be.

He faded out. I went to sleep.

What Fryderyk described was not so much the way I’ve been experiencing music, but definitely similar to the way I’ve been experiencing the ground of reality itself. Which may well have been part of what he was talking about. His messages, even when they sound painfully obvious and simple at first, do tend to generalize to many aspects of my life.

This morning I was looking at an article by Jeff Kallberg in the book Mary-Rose [Douglas] gave me for Christmas. It concerned a newly-discovered copy of the first edition of the Op. 9 nocturnes, which Chopin had annotated for a student, adding dramatically different ornamentation to 9/2. “We can now securely assert,” Jeff wrote, “that Chopin began modifying the ornaments in this work shortly after its publication….”

Yup, that’s our Fryc. So many possibilities, and he wants them all to be available.

 

On 8/2/14, I was asking Fryderyk about a pedaling question; I’m not sure what the piece was. I received these words:

“You are making the supposition that I have written a symbol which is absolute. You are looking for the sound of words on a page. Words are not sounds and symbols are not music.”

 

5/3/16

A great fan of Chopin and expert on his life expressed the thought that he did most of his composing on paper, not at the piano. It was her belief that even when he first began to work out his ideas, he did so away from the piano.

This is not what is generally believed about Chopin’s creative method. As soon as I could, I asked him what he might have to say about the matter. When he was beginning to put a piece together, did he start with the piano, or with a pen? He told me clearly: “Sound. Sound is primary. It doesn’t matter how you get there.” Apparently I was asking the wrong question again. He added, “Sound comes from the inner being.”

Wanting to be completely clear, I tried once more to ask how he started, and he added: “Exploring sound. Sound, not thought.” Which does imply starting with an instrument, I would think, not inside one’s head.

Since the words were definite and exact, I wanted to be sure to catch them verbatim, and I stopped to write them down. Unfortunately, after that I could not get back into the channeling state and was unable to hear any more. Research continues.

 

See more fantastic Chopin cartoon portraits at http://muzeumkarykatury.pl/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=147:umiech-chopina&catid=54:umiech-chopina&Itemid=228

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A Failed Life?

chopinmarble1

Clésinger’s bust of Chopin, done after his death

You are perfect just as you are. And you could use a little improvement.
— Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

 

It’s Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin’s birthday, a major holiday in my calendar.

A while back I was taking another look at a biography of Chopin from the 2000s, in which the author summed up her subject as “a failed life redeemed by art.”

Think about that for a moment before you read on. A failed life.

OCD-like as I am, I got stuck on that phrase. First, we should all fail so awfully as Chopin, shouldn’t we. But seriously, what would constitute a failed life? I cannot think of very many circumstances in which that could be said of someone. Even in the case of a mass murderer, there would always be the chance of redemption (and that person might have been very successful at mass murdering). The only time that I might say a life truly failed would be if it never got started— if a child died in the womb or at birth. Even then, there might have been some point to that life while it existed, in that it had effects on the lives of its parents and perhaps others.

It is worth spending some time on this issue because it seems that most people, most of the time, tend to believe that they are failing, or at least that they are not succeeding sufficiently. I often feel very much that way myself, despite recent days of great “success” in my practice and a patient calling and telling me how well he had done when I treated him. Our temporal ideas of success and failure are relative, slippery, malleable, and ultimately have little if any meaning. Better not to get overly involved with them. Let’s explore and explode some of them.

The author of the Chopin biography was comparing him to a certain type of Romantic-period literary hero. It was convenient, I suppose. We fit facts into our stories and organize them around preconceived themes all the time. The story, in this case, has to do in large part with love gone wrong. If we look at success and failure through this lens, poor Beethoven comes off even worse, and most of us would receive questionable grades. Is a person who’s been through a divorce a failure? How about a person who remains single throughout life? A celibate clergy member? This is not a very useful filter.

One might postulate that being loved in a more general sense is a sign of success in life, but then, some people who are bucking trends and rocking boats may be doing critically important work but be widely hated for it.

Financial failure, maybe? Our society certainly pays a lot of attention to that. Chopin made a lot of money for a while there, until he became too sick to work, so he’s kind of safe on that score. But we all know very well that there are both great humanitarians and total scuzzbags who have made a lot of money. Not a good measure of a life.

Reproduction, perhaps? In terms of a stripped-down view of evolutionary biology, all that matters is that you pass on copies of your genes to the next generation. Chopin didn’t manage that, but then, since he probably had a very adverse genetic disorder, that may be just as well. OK, that’s a biological fail (though descendants of his sister are around today). But this measure would mean that the Duggars are incredible successes, and your stomach is probably churning as hard as mine at that thought. Chopin’s artistic “children” are surviving quite nicely and have had many descendants of their own. Human life has far more complex effects than mere genetic replication. Passing on one’s thoughts is likely more important in the long run for humans than passing on one’s genes.

Teaching is a hugely significant way of passing on thoughts. Chopin did a great deal of that, and the community of pianists continues to learn in depth from him by playing and studying his work.

What would constitute failure for you? Whatever that is, is it a true measure, or have you received it from the world without examination? A case can be made that if you have enough to eat and a roof over your head, you have already succeeded big time in a fundamental and crucial way. If you have strong connections with other humans, you’re in even better shape.

Jim Carrey put it this way: “I’ve often said that I wish people could realize all their dreams and wealth and fame so that they can see that it’s not where you’re gonna find your sense of completion. I can tell you from experience the effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is, because everything you gain in life will rot, and fall apart, and all that will be left of you is what was in your heart.”*

I think Suzuki Roshi nailed the truth superbly with his famous aphorism. For the essential, real, universal You, there is nothing to do, nothing to be or to become. For the everyday, changing mirage of you, there is always the potential to develop further. We can fully accept the present self while still moving toward what may turn out to be a quite different self. We aren’t finished— even at death— so we haven’t failed.

 

*http://www.higherperspectives.com/jim-carrey-speech-1468783748.html

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Beethoven, Guest Blogger

My main reason for beginning this blog was to try to start conversations between people who are having experiences with the nonphysical world, to help them feel that they have permission to share this aspect of their lives. It’s been a great gift to receive communications from people around the world who have been willing to do that. I’m hoping and expecting that today’s presentation is going to resonate with a lot of readers and that they will share their insights.

It amazes me to realize that not only do the “dead” have to get messages through our thick skulls* and our thicker layers of preconceived notions, but in order for the living to communicate at great distances about all that, we rely on little marks that seem to magically appear on screens in front of our eyes, which depend on electrons finding their way through wires and photons streaming through thousands of miles of fiber optic cable that has improbably been strung across entire ocean floors. It’s that part that seems far more incredible to me!

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned some contacts with “Lou” van Beethoven, both my own and those of others. He seems to be in touch with people and events on the Earth plane quite a lot. Recently I’ve had the good fortune to correspond with someone who has described a connection with Beethoven that has a great deal in common with my connection with Chopin. (It turned out that there were aspects we had in common that neither of us had disclosed publicly before.) I had never before met someone who was in so much the same situation as I, and it has been fascinating to compare notes.

Some issues came up in this correspondence that I found a bit confusing, and I hoped to get Fryderyk’s take on them, since he does the same sorts of things and also, as far as I know, is familiar with Beethoven as he is now. On 7/7/15, I was able to have a good conversation with him about his view of Beethoven and his current activities on the Earth plane.

I sent my summary of that conversation to Beethoven’s friend, who has asked to remain as anonymous as possible. We exchanged a number of messages, which I have condensed into a single document here.  She reported that she had received input from Beethoven, and I am extremely pleased to present his comments. You will find those in bold and italics, while what his friend wrote is in regular bold. My original description of the visit I had with Fryderyk is in regular type, and I have added asides in brackets. I hope the formatting will help you to navigate through this three-way/two-world communication, which I have been given permission to share.

*************************************************************

There was a sense of Beethoven being an extremely large entity, not a “mere” human being anymore.

To this, he told me that he is still human, still LvB. He has not morphed into anything else. [I hadn’t meant that he was no longer human, but that he was manifesting more as his expanded, unlimited self.]

As far as I experience him, Ludwig has “form”— still a very human one and with the clothing styles of his era! I don’t believe in the new agey idea that on entering the spirit realms people become diaphanous like white masses of light that float about. They have form, just on a different vibration/frequency to us on earth. They are still human. (It is as far as I can see, different for different life forms like elementals). They do however move differently, their form is looser, they can present themselves at different “ages.” Sometimes I see him as he was in his 40s, and other times as he was in around 1803 (the Hornemann portrait). He once made me laugh by showing himself with his 1803 haircut and in a 1940s style suit; it was brown with a waistcoat and he asked me if it suited him. I told him he looked very handsome, but I did prefer his early 1800s clothes if he wanted an honest opinion. I think they suit him more. He is also amused by the new agey views of afterlife people being white floating masses or all white and wearing white robes! That is so not what he is. He is still the same LvB, just in another dimension, but without the problems he had when here on earth.

It may surprise you to know that he still likes food and coffee; he experiences them through me at times. He likes the rain, baths, showers and the woods. He lives life fully. He also has a home— yes, a home! He showed me his house. It is in the woods.

He showed me a sort of expanse of Beethoven-substance extending in all directions over a vast landscape and penetrating into its various corners. I could see [his friend] enfolded in this field. I asked how this was like or different from relating to an individual person as such. That didn’t receive a clear reply.

At this he gave me a German word right into my head, and I got a faint image of energy flowing. [Searching in an online dictionary for a word with that sound, she discovered that it meant “projection.”] He was quite excited when I was looking the words up and even more so when I saw what vorsprung means— it is in the context of something projecting like a rock, and he gave me this word to show the literal movement of what he is doing. I really love it when he does this; he gives me German words, so that I can get a literal meaning that my own mind can’t make up. I’m getting an image of him in his coat and old hat throwing sparks into the sky and laughing to himself.

I have many times seen human beings as much more expansive than they seem to be while living in bodies, and I think of that larger self as the fundamental reality of what a person is, living or dead. So I said, “But isn’t that the same as what you are, or what anybody is?”

He’s showing me that energy fields can vary in size, according to purposes, states of mind, aims, health, etc.

I am sort of understanding this a little. Not long after he started visiting me I was walking in town and I had this real feeling of expansion and I could feel him like in the sky/air. It’s very hard to explain. I see it as his way of reaching through to me, expanding his aura. Other times it is of a more intimate nature, that his aura/being is right inside me, flowing into me, and it feels so good and pure.

I think that this is Ludwig’s ability to extend himself— he can be in more than one place at once. I didn’t quite understand how he can do it, but it has something to do with people in the afterlife existing outside of time and the physical body. When one thinks about it, if we can travel in OBEs and shamans can go further than this, why wouldn’t afterlife people have superior abilities that go even further?

Fryderyk replied that he was not like this image of Beethoven, that he was much smaller and more focused, and wrapping close around me, he gave me an impression of having tightly delineated boundaries that were not much bigger than the physical volume of a human being like myself.

*He’s saying something about penetrating barriers, and layers, and that it is not always easy, “even for me.” He’s showing an image of himself knocking on my head and me not hearing him, or “not listening.” Also about believing one can do it[If I had a dollar for every time Fryderyk has said, “You are not listening!”]

Strong emotion washed through me as he conveyed a great longing and aspiration to be something more, to be able to do more good and reach more of the world, as he perceives that Beethoven can do. I told him what he might well have told me, that we all have our place in the scheme of things. I said that it seemed to me that his special ability is to bring our attention to details and to intimate, personal experience and to connect that to the universal, rather than to express the gigantic and universal directly in the way that Beethoven has done. I certainly don’t see his own “superpower” being any less. Fryderyk has always been conspicuously modest. He also seems to be relatively young, perhaps not yet as far along in development as some; perhaps Ludwig has access to more of All That Is than he does?

I got an image of Ludwig standing there, saying no, not development, but role.

Perhaps Fryderyk is equating Ludwig’s “abilities” with his music— like the Ninth of which the theme is universal brotherhood/humanhood, the heroic “Eroica,” the triumphant feelings and determinations to succeed against the odds, etc. It’s true that Ludwig was concerned with these themes/this work, but he also went to the opposite with the internal, spiritual experiences in his late piano sonatas and quartets. It is all important.

I was waiting for his response to how Fryderyk feels. He certainly doesn’t see Fryderyk as any less than himself. Ludwig knows how people view him, past and present, how people are (and were) often in awe of him (I had a problem with this when he first started visiting me), but that could/can be isolating for him. He said he has always been a force of nature, that when Goethe said that he was an “untamed personality” he was correct. He didn’t know how to “fit in”— he could only be himself, even if it caused problems for himself or the people around him. He says he was, and is, kind of wild and he can’t help it! But he accepts who he is. He said that Fryderyk has a very different personality and energy force which he admires. Very focused! Good at concentrating.

He connects with the raw energy of nature, like the wind. He said why do you think I spent so much time walking outside in the woods? (True, he even went on walks in cold weather).

He shows me that we all have access to allthatis (however you view it or experience it) and we all will connect with it differently, he doesn’t see it as more or less.

I must say, Beethoven has always seemed exceedingly large and powerful to me, too. I remember writing that I perceived him as being “like a huge bear hug that could wrap the whole world,” or something like that. And Fryderyk does seem to be built on a much smaller scale, but that is not to say that he is weak or ineffectual.

No, not smaller, he is saying. Different. Like breeze and wind, you see? Both the same source, but different. Is breeze less than the wind?

[Regarding Beethoven’s giving the impression of being so large despite a height of only about 5’4”:] It is his personality, his life force I think. And yet, his letters show his vulnerabilities and his emotions; he had both. People said he could be almost childlike, a kind of innocence about him; he was and is authentic. And he is incredibly gentle with it. All this mix makes him so compelling and extraordinary. It can be heard in his music.

Mary Montano wrote about something like this field of Beethoven-ness in Loving Mozart, if I remember correctly. She said that all the devoted players and listeners form a kind of symbiotic group organism with a composer, contributing back into the work the composer creates. (The Wolf Gang? The Fryc Field? The Beethovensbundler?) I like that theory very, very much and hope it is true. It’s how the situation does feel to me.

I got like goes with like. He’s also given me something that makes me feel warm inside as well as kind of honored and humbled— never underestimate how important you are to us. He knows I just sit here thinking what do I do? boring courses, shopping, cleaning, sometimes writing (never enough time for that it seems), but that the connection we have with the composers means a lot to them, the energy we share with them they can channel into their work, use to inspire them. We help their work in ways we cannot quite know.

So yes, I see it as we can be their muses, and them ours, like a flowing of ideas, sharing.

I had mentioned to [his friend] that I’ve never heard Fryderyk say anything in Polish, despite begging him to do so. She asked why that is; she does sometimes hear Ludwig speak in German, a language she doesn’t know herself, and has been able to write down some of the words so that she could look them up. On this same night I bugged Fryderyk about it yet again, and at last got some clarification. It was obvious once I saw it. He gave me images of the mechanics of our communication, the way we were doing it right then, so that I saw how I was going about taking in raw ideas and fishing for words to express them. I remember Mendy Lou saying years ago that he communicates psychically rather than verbally, which didn’t entirely make sense to me at the time.

I read this to Ludwig and he thinks it is a good idea to tell you how he gives me the German words. Maybe you and Fryderyk can try it. I usually lie down, or at least sit comfortably; he usually lets me know he wants to give me German words. I get a feeling or I start to hear him faintly. Then I just lie still, not thinking any thoughts of my own, not having any ideas. If he is going to answer a question I gave him, I just listen and wait till he gives me the word(s) and then write it down and look in the online dictionary. I can always feel his energy flowing into me when he does it. It takes a quiet mind and concentration. So we don’t manage big whole sentences! But it is great for clarification.

To be sure, on occasion I do get crystal-clear, pre-formed words from him, but those times are the exception. Generally I am performing the “translation” into speech and so the message ends up in my own language, with my very limited vocabulary in Polish not really adequate for this process. I still hope that we may come up with a more robust line of communication that will facilitate more precise verbal messages, but this may not ever be the way our particular minds work together, and if so, that’s all right, I suppose. The imagery and emotional tones he gives me often convey far more information than words could.

I asked again, also, about why he couldn’t or didn’t transmit any Polish phrases through Leslie Flint (since others did transmit messages in languages not known to the medium) except for one episode when Flint woke in the middle of the night hearing a foreign language. He began to show me something about working through the medium’s nervous system, brainstem maybe, and vocal anatomy, even though the sound was not coming through the medium’s vocal cords. I never found out much about that because at that point I drifted off to sleep.

He is showing that mind to mind is much easier for them— faster too! The biggest barrier seems to be us, busy minds, and doubting that we are indeed communicating with them.

*********************************************************************
I’ve had a day of feeling extremely inadequate, and here I am writing about Chopin feeling inadequate and being reminded of my previous post about Beethoven feeling inadequate during his life too. Point taken.

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“When you play it you are touching my soul”

For some background and a summary of my concerns and conclusions about the Chopin Voice in the Leslie Flint material, you can have a look here: https://elenedom.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/hearing-voices-part-iii%E2%80%93-chopin/

The opening measures of Op. 10 No. 3, manuscript

The opening measures of Op. 10 No. 3, manuscript

I’ve been trying to organize my collection of musical insights gained over the years from communications with Fryderyk Chopin.  In the process, I came across a presentation given by the Chopin Voice to Leslie Flint’s sitters on February 25, 1955.  It contains some comments that so many of us who play Chopin’s works would find greatly comforting, especially those whose physical ability often lags behind their understanding of the music and the depth of their connection to it.  Some of you may feel that this is all too sweet, too good to be true, or too religious-sounding for your taste.  I understand, but it’s worth putting in front of you nonetheless, and what the Voice says does fit my experience of him.

Today is a good day for me to hear this message again.  I’ve been exploring the emotional landscape of Chopin’s E major étude, Op. 10 No. 3, which he composed at the age of 22, too inexperienced to fully understand what he himself was writing, one might think.  It’s one of those pieces that seems like the angels of music must have been whispering in his ear with special clarity.  I’m at a point where I have a solid understanding and deep feeling of the meaning of the piece and the story it tells– or at least, one possible story– but I am not yet quite where I can stay immersed in the emotional and psychological experience and bring all that to the listener because I just don’t have complete physical control of the entire piece.  I will soon.  Really!  It’s exciting to be so close to something so wondrous, but of course you know how frustrating it can be too.

Rose Creet, you may remember, was a great fan of Chopin and a dear friend to this version of him.  At one point in another year, the Voice half-joked to her that sometimes he listened to her playing and said to himself, “Hmm.  She is get a little better.”  I can only hope that at times he says that about me!  I do think that he is often quite aware of what I am doing technically, what the actual sound is, and how close I am getting to a clear physical expression of the music.  But it makes perfect sense that it would be easier for him to perceive a player’s emotional state and thought patterns than to hear the molecular vibrations of the Earth-plane air.

I transcribed this session from an online recording at http://www.leslieflint.com.  Between the Voice’s rather bumpy English and my inability to hear clearly at many moments, there are likely a fair number of errors.  I’ve added question marks in instances when I just couldn’t be sure.  I’ve also bolded passages that I think are of particular interest to players.  Here goes:

Sitters: Rose Creet, Leslie Mannington[?]

Voice:  Hello.

Rose:  Hello?

Voice:  Madame et monsieur, good evening.

Rose and others:  Good evening.

Voice:  Well, you have not said it, but it is me all right.

Rose:  Yes, I know.  Frederic.

Voice:  It is.

Rose:  Yes, Frederic.  And we’re so happy you have come to us again.

Voice:  I was trying to think what I should speak to you about this evening, and I thought the most appropriate thing would be what is common to our hearts, music.

Rose:  Yes, please.

Voice:  I have tried very much to find a way of expressing certain things to you regarding music in the spheres of love, but I don’t know how I am going to find the words which can possibly give you the right understanding.  I think the best comparison, the best way to do it, is to tell you that that which is music to you on Earth, beautiful though it is, important though it is, and essential as it is to those who feel and know and understand these things, yet in comparison to the things of spirit, where music is supreme, it is infinitesimal.  When I think of the compositions, the music that I have written in my Earth life, although I am in a sense pleased with it, I realize it is so small in comparison to that which I have been able to do here.  Here there are no limitations.  On Earth, I used to struggle… ah! the limitations seemed many.  Things that I had in my heart, in my brain, things that were running through me— I just found that sometimes the compass of the instrument was insufficient.  There were notes that in my heart I had felt so strongly, that could not be expressed, for the instrument was insufficient.

Here, there is such a wide range.  You see, here we are not limited as you are.  You can only hear to a certain pitch, or to a certain point.  Beyond that your ears do not hear.  With us it is different.  There is a much greater range of which we can hear.  And in consequence the instruments which we have are composed or [?] made in a much larger scale.  Therefore, we can strike notes and chords and create harmonies which are beyond your imagination.  Take something which you think today on Earth is a grand study, or something that is a great flowing piece of work, with great harmonies, great though it is, it is so small in comparison.  As the spirit is larger in its experience and in its wisdom and in its knowledge and in its expression when it is freed from the physical body and the earthly condition, so is music also.  It is only the limitation of the Earth that limit the human heart, that limit the human ability to create.     

Any artist who is an artist, whether it is in music or in any other field of activity, as you know, often will express the same thing.  He will say, “Ah!  I just cannot get it.  I do not feel, and it just will not come.”  He has the moment of mood, when he knows that he can do a work, and he will go at it day and night until it is accomplished, and then no doubt he will sit back and think, “Well, it is finished, but it is not as I would quite have liked.”  In other words, his materials limit him, and yet what he has created is accepted by the world as a great work, which it is, within the limitations of the Earth.  But here, where there are no limitations, where the power of the spirit is such that a man can become as great as he desires in a spiritual sense, and his work can become also as great, there are no limitations to those who strive, to those who seek, to those who try to express that part of God which is in themselves.  For in music is God, as indeed are in all things that are good.  There is the prize[?] and the heart and the emotion of the Most High.  For we see with the eyes that are not of the Earth, and we hear with the ears that are not of the Earth, and we express in volume and intensity, with things which cannot be confined as you understand it in a material sense.  All the limitations of the artist are broken over here, and he or she can accomplish great things.  And all those things are an expression not only of man himself, but of God working through man.  For God is perfection, and all we who are artists are striving for perfection in our art.  In other words, we are all becoming more like God, part of God, and in consequence our work and art grows also.

And therefore, in the different spheres you find that as those who have gone through one sphere to the other of progress, they leave behind in their particular sphere (the same as when a person leave your world to come to this), they leave behind some expression of God, some expression of the emotion of the spirit and the beauty of the spirit in all its purity and grace.  In my life, I try to leave behind some expression of God in my work, and the artists and the poets, and all those who strive to express themselves, the soul, which is a part of God, have left behind a heritage for those who follow after.  And so in the spheres as we progress from one to the other, as we learn and assimilate and utilize all the opportunities in each particular individual sphere in which we live, we create and leave behind for those who come from your world into that particular sphere some of ourselves, to leave behind in love to help those who follow after, the same as those musicians in your world today take the works of the great masters and find in them great beauty and reverence and harmony and sound of… great, joyous music.  They feel and know there is some part of God in the soul of a musician who has made progress beyond material things.

So it is that we all help each other.  We are all brothers and sisters.  You were surprised, long time ago, when I first come to you.  For a long time you could not really believe it.  You thought, “Ah, it is not possible.  Why should he come to me?” because you are humble in spirit, because you realize the greatness in music, you realize the greatness in art, and you realize too that there was some part of the soul, and you felt perhaps you could not touch it.  But my child, that is exactly what we are striving to do, to touch you, that you might in some measure link with us in harmony of the spheres.  It is our gift to humanity to help those who follow after, that they might be inspired also to express and to give to the world in the darkness in which it finds itself the harmony and the love of the spheres which is expressed in the music that we have been able to give through our sojourn on Earth.  We are all tied together in bond of love and affection.

Music is the harmony of love which flows through all human beings and links us together.  In my music when you play it you are touching my soul, and I am conscious of it.  When you love it and when you try to express it with all that you have to give to it, I am conscious of it, and when I find there is such love, then I am drawn.  And how often we have striven from this side, to make links with people on Earth, who do not understand.  There are here and there a few artists, a few people in music who, though they do not know the meaning of what you call spiritualism, yet in their deeper selves there is a consciousness of being attached through the music with the soul who created it, and they try to express it.  And if they are good artists, if they are talented, if they have a natural ability, then we can use them, as we often do, trying to help those that are struggling in your world as we would have liked to have been helped, and often were, when on Earth.  So we strive to help them.  There are some in your world who I often help, some that you know.  And so, because we love with all the fullness that love means, we do not necessarily only go to those who can become accomplished musicians in the Earth life, but to those who feel so intensely, which sometimes, in fact, I would go so far as to say is even more important than the execution of the music, for where there is an intensity of love, or a great understanding within the heart, to express, in my case, my music, then I am one with that person, and if I can help them, and help their trembling fingers over the keys, that is my joy and privilege, for I come in love to serve.  For my music is to serve humanity, to help them rise above mundane things, into the harmonies of the spirit which I now enjoy.

And so it is that music links us together, much more perhaps than any other form of art, but it is in music that we find such a peace, and it is in music which we find solace in our soul who are in trouble, as I know I did so often in Earth life.  For I have many times gone to the piano with a heart that was broken, and yet found peace and great harmony and great solace in it.  And some of my greatest composition was done in my most terrible hour, for it is always when God calls strongest to the heart that out of it falls the harmony of the spirit, which nothing can take away from the world.  For it is left behind, as indeed it is for service.  For even in death, as you call it, we serve still in various ways.  I am not dead; I am more alive than ever I was when on Earth, more conscious, more able to serve and to help, and greater harmonies I can now create than ever I was able to do in the confines of the material earthly body, which was always a sorrow to me, and ofttimes a nuisance.  But this I know, that your love, your desire for expression of that within you, makes possible that link I have with you, and if you do not execute my work as you know you would like to do it, it is the heart within you that makes possible that link between us, the desire.  It is always the desire, the sincere desire in the heart and the soul that calls to us, more than even the other things which often people around and about you admire most.  I know that there is disappointment and disillusion to the artist, to the soul who strives and feels so intensely and yet whose physical… physical body has not the power to do what the heart tells them.  But nevertheless, you are creating, in some sense, a great harmony, because you feel.  How often do we know of people who execute technically brilliantly the work of a great composer, but there is something lacking which makes it dull and uninteresting, because it is without feeling, it is without soul.  They have not touched the soul of the composer.  And unless the soul of the composer is put into the technique, if it is not behind that which is being done, there is in spite of its brilliance of execution, nothing but deadness, and there is nothing but disappointment.  But those who feel so intensely, those who appreciate music, and yet cannot play it, are the greater musicians, for they have something which the man with all the technique in the world has not got.  He has not got God in his heart.  He has not touched the heart of a musician.  He has not felt that wonderful union that comes between those who so love that which is and which has been created in love.  For in love do we who create music serve humanity.

Every great work of note in your world has been created, through the instrumentality of the musician, in some way, by the hand of God, for it is the hand of God that helps all those who strive to send into the Earth beauty and glorious harmony.  It is the fingers of God that move behind the fingers, often the stumbling fingers, of the humble musician.  For God is knowing all things, and God is expressing himself in all ways, through the artist who paints, through the musician who creates and plays, through the singer who sings the harmonies that others have composed, and all the beauties of the Earth.  Always you find God, and behind the musician, God is.  And when those who feel God in music, though their fingers cannot play the notes, there is a musician, there is harmony.  There is glorious music, for it is music of the soul that swells out and in the spheres is heard, and we are conscious of it, and we are drawn to those who, though they want to do so much, can do so little because of the limitations of their earthly life.  But their hearts are full of love, and their hearts are conscious of all the harmonies of the spheres, and their thoughts are with the great musicians and the great composers who have gone before but who have left a heritage for the children of Earth to follow.  I know how you feel, and because I know how you feel, it is a joy for me to come, and to serve and to help and to bless.  I do not ever feel that I am giving a second away if it is spent with those who love as you do the music that is God’s.  I must go, but do not feel sad, and feel joyous, for there is great beauty in all of us.  For we are all God, in harmony with each other.

Rose (in a reverent tone):  Thank you, Frederic.

Male voice:  Thank you, Monsieur Chopin.

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20 Years of Divine Addiction

Lenore, age 8, and I give a recital for Grandma.  See, playing the piano is fun!

Lenore, age 8, and I give a recital for Grandma
at our old house with our old upright.
See, playing the piano is fun! Right??

(I started this on March 5, Fryderyk Chopin’s name-day, and continued over the next week, writing in bits for the reasons below.)

As of about February 11, it was 20 years since my association with him began. To my eternal regret, perhaps because I was knocked out of normal daily reality at the time, I didn’t make note of the exact date that I met him.

I haven’t come up with much in the way of suitably profound or brilliant observances for this anniversary. Instead, I’ve been drowned in professional responsibilities, especially the many Crises du Jour of the current state legislative session. The quiet, introspective time I’d planned hasn’t happened. And the man himself hasn’t been around much; no conversations, no revelations. Perhaps we’ll celebrate at a later date. Or perhaps, no longer being chained by time, there is no meaning for him in an anniversary at all. Still, I might as well go along with the human tendency to mark decades as they go by and look back a bit.

I could not have imagined, when that first clear contact occurred on a winter evening in 1993, how overwhelmingly important this event would turn out to be, how utterly my life would change. I had looked for him before, had felt that we had some deep connection I couldn’t fathom, but nothing had ever come of that, at least nothing conscious.

I was finishing up science classes at T-VI (now CNM) at the time that it happened, and then I started acupuncture school a few months later. I was still teaching music a little, and performing occasionally, but couldn’t really concentrate on that. It wasn’t till more than another year had gone by that the piano addiction hit full force. Then I couldn’t avoid music, and Chopin’s music in particular, even though I was still embroiled in school and would be for a couple more years. I started taking piano lessons again, and have kept them up much of the time since. This is all Fryderyk’s fault– isn’t it?

Those who know me well are so used to me playing the piano (or trying to, at any rate) that it probably doesn’t seem as crazy to them as it does to me. I had been at it since age 13, but never showed any great aptitude. It’s slow going for me, and for my long-suffering teachers. Almost on a daily basis, I’ve wondered why I have dedicated so much time, energy, and money to this pursuit. I turned away from the lute, which I was playing reasonably well, and even from my duet partner, in order to play Chopin. I didn’t feel that I had any choice. I thought it would be a phase that I’d pass through, and then I’d go back to my normal life. Apparently it is my normal life.  Although every so often I still play the lute, sing, fool around with flute or recorder, or even have a try at my major instrument, the guitar, the piano has remained central over the years.

I’m not saying that seriously practicing the piano, making it central in one’s life, is crazy in itself– far from it. I’ve just had a hard time understanding why I insist on doing something that is a bit outside my ability to do well, when there are so many other possible choices, and I could be excelling at something else. To be sure, there are some real practical benefits I can point to, if I must be practical. In particular, playing the piano helps me keep up the upper body strength and flexibility I need to do bodywork; if I don’t play for a while, my hands tend to ache and feel stiff. I can always justify it that way if I need to.

My main dance teacher, Michele Diel, pointed out that if playing the piano were easy for me, it wouldn’t make nearly so much sense as a spiritual practice. It is my Zen archery, my Qi Gong, my yoga. It is my Kurukshetra, a battlefield upon which I constantly dodge my own friendly fire. It is a martial art in which I must learn to stop fighting.

My piano teacher since 2008, Stephen Montoya, says it is my soul.

A former friend once asked my whether doing so many different arts at once was a problem for me, implying that it had to be one and that I was messing up my life. This was an odd question, since she herself, in addition to being a healer, wrote poetry and prose, made sculptures, did calligraphy at a high level, and cooked like a dream. She exhorted me to pick one or two things and stick with only those. But this is simply not possible, and as I explained to her, healing, music, and dance feel like aspects of the same thing to me. It’s hard to articulate exactly why that is; roughly, all of them involve the movement of energy, tension and release. All of them are Qi in motion. (I’m not sure how writing fits in. I’ll have to get back to you on that!)

There is especially little distinction, to me, between playing the piano and dancing, and I don’t feel I could manage without either of those. Back in December, I had a sudden breakthrough in which the two arts came together in a new way. My piano teacher said, “I wish you could use your arms the way you do when you dance.” It was not a new idea, but because it would require me to Break Some Rules, I hadn’t completely followed it through before. I decided to do exactly as he suggested, whether it was “wrong” or not. Nothing else, simply moving my arms the way I do when I dance, with the movements emanating naturally from the center of my body.

Wow.

All of a sudden my tone acquired more depth and beauty, my dynamic range expanded, and I was playing music in a way I don’t think I ever had before. And I had a feeling of joy and physical pleasure at the piano that was beyond anything else I’d experienced, too. Everyone, including my teacher, could hear that something was radically different and better. My dancing, away from the piano I mean, also suddenly deepened and became more ecstatic. I felt like I had been released into the air to fly for the first time.

Crashing back to the ground, which happened all too soon, was pretty painful, and I’ve only been able to take off for very brief flights since. I’ve spent a couple of months trying to integrate the technical issues I must consciously practice and intellectually understand with this other practice of freedom and intuitive movement. For a while I had to insist on hanging on to the joy and to my inner sensations, no matter what, because having found that, I’m not willing to ever let it go. It seems that at last I’m getting back to where I was and where I want to be, beginning to feel the softening and peace in my body again as I work with the piano instead of against it.

Despite this new connection with my innate musicality, a strange phenomenon has continued to plague me, even on some of my better days. At certain times I start into a piece and it’s as if I’ve never seen it before. Sadly, this is most likely to occur early in one of my lessons, during my first try at a piece. I play something like a quarter of the notes wrong, feeling utterly disoriented, and I get stuck over and over, unable to create any kind of flow. It may have to do with the lighting being different or my chair being off center or something else one can detect in the situation, but most of the time there is no known explanation. It isn’t a matter of simple “nerves.”

Then, typically, I try the same piece again, and everything is fine; in fact, I may well play it far better than I’ve been able to at home. I wish I could solve this mystery and get more control over this unfortunate habit of my brain, eyes, and hands. It’s bad enough that it’s embarrassing, but mostly I’m frustrated because I haven’t been able to figure it out or change it. My best understanding is that it is most likely to happen with a piece that I know well enough that a lot of it is “on automatic,” but not well enough that it’s completely memorized or otherwise under the conscious direction of the objective, analytical part of my mind. At my last lesson, a few days ago, on the second try with a nocturne I’d played early in the time of my addiction, it felt like I succeeded in flipping a switch that allowed me to consciously read the notes clearly again and not slip into an inadequate connection with movements I only half remembered. (This is not easy to describe!)  When I fully remember those movements for a given piece, this phenomenon should greatly diminish if it happens at all.  Should.

Since if I try again I can often play pretty well, sometimes even quite beautifully, this may not sound like much of a problem. However, if it keeps happening, I can’t trust myself to perform in even the least stressful situation. This feels very limiting, and now that I’ve gotten a taste of what it’s like to be so much less limited, I want even more to let go of it. Suggestions are very welcome!

Meanwhile, in looking to connect with my solidity-challenged friend during this special time, I had a go at relearning how to draw, and in particular to draw his face, which I still can never get a good look at. I used to do pencil portraits when I was a teenager, some of them fairly impressive, though I never drew brilliantly. Julie Brokken’s “QuiArt” classes/mini-retreats/informal tea parties have provided a framework for getting the pencil moving again. Unsurprisingly, I used to draw on a tiny scale, at my best when there were a bajillion picky details– the same tendency I’m dealing with in music and dance. I would erase over and over and spend days on a piece just a few centimeters across.

The other night I brought Chopin’s death mask to Julie’s studio, and while she showed me pictures of her family, pointing out the similarities between faces, and gave me a helpful hint now and then, I sketched his profile. I concentrated on the tea and chatting, trying not to pay too much attention to the fact that I was making marks on paper. I stayed away from detail and attempted to produce lines with flow and movement, life-sized (death-sized?) instead of tiny and cramped. The result would allow a person to recognize its subject on the street, I’d say.  I feel like I’m beginning to recapture an important part of myself, so I’m inordinately pleased with this piece, stripped-down though it is.

Fryc sketch close 3.7.13

In order to share this with you, I photographed it and processed it so that the tentative, faint lines were dark enough to show up well. The white paper now looks like some sort of grey stone, matching my blog background.  I hope to be able to portray him alive and awake in not too long.  As Julie points out, I need to practice seeing what’s really there, rather than what I expect to see.  Then I need to move freely and confidently to project that clear perception.  Not so different from the process of bringing music through one’s hands.

Heartfelt thanks to all my teachers in the arts in these past two decades, including:
Piano– Jane Viemeister, Suzanne Dawson, Stephen Montoya, and of course Fryderyk Chopin, whose music gives me profound daily lessons whether he is present or not
Harpsichord– Susan Patrick
Dance– Michele Diel, Michelle Morrison, Flo Bargar, Erin Damour, and so many others
Visual art– Julie Brokken

For a few more thoughts on why a person might want to do this crazy music thing: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/imagine/201003/einstein-creative-thinking-music-and-the-intuitive-art-scientific-imagination

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Where Does Music Really Come From? Part 2

In my last post, I mentioned some recordings of Rosemary Brown pieces made by the young Brazilian pianist Érico Bomfim.  I first heard him a few months ago, playing two nocturnes attributed to Chopin.  My immediate reaction was that these were pleasant pieces, but in no way could I say they had been composed by my dear friend.  Dang.  I was a little uncomfortable about this, but I was involved with other projects at the time, and didn’t think much further about it until I received the recent shipment of Brown sheet music I told you about, sent by Guilherme Tavares, which included both of the nocturnes.  Now I’ve had a chance to play them both and hang out with them for a while.  My impression is still the same.  The C# minor nocturne, constructed of block chords like the “chorale” section of some Chopin nocturnes rather than the stereotypical lyrical melody plus arpeggiated accompaniment, is very enjoyable, but I hear it as a well-crafted Brown piece with little resemblance to the work of the named composer.  The nocturne in F minor is built on a typical nocturne plan, with a sinuous and rhythmically complex melody very much like what we would expect of Chopin, but somehow still not sounding like his voice.  I was surprised that these nocturnes would sound so not-Chopin, since the A flat nocturne I already knew has so many of his characteristics, resembles known pieces of his, and completely convinces me.  (Well, 99%.)  While it’s possible, even likely, that a composer’s style would change over time, these sound more like the work of another competent composer of the same era than like Chopin himself.  Still, I can’t rule out his being involved with their creation.

The F minor nocturne has been bugging me today.  It’s an attractive piece, and I’ve gotten interested in it enough to want to learn it thoroughly.  Why is it that although it’s constructed exactly like a Chopin nocturne, with similar turns of phrase, it doesn’t sound like him?  What does Chopin sound like that’s different from this?  If anyone should be able to answer, it’s me, but so far I can’t.  Earlier today I was playing the nocturne and asking myself these questions, and I called out to my mother, “Does this sound like Chopin to you?”  Without hesitating, she called back, “No!” from the next room, adding, “It doesn’t make me think of him.”  Poor thing, she has to listen to me practicing Chopin day in and day out, so she knows very well what he sounds like.  Later I played it some more, and got to thinking that measures 8-10 did in fact have a strong Chopinesque flavor, and felt physically like something he’d do.  I asked my husband the same question I’d asked my mother, and he immediately shook his head, not even needing time to think about it.

Both of these nocturnes were published as being written by Rosemary Brown and “inspired by” Chopin.  That seems about right to me, and perhaps as close as we can get to describing the truth.

Years ago I’d played, or tried to play, a set of six mazurkas that were included in the Brown sheet music I had in hard copies, and I’d felt that they were weak as examples of Chopin’s work.  Six more came with the new collection, and I tried those right away.  On a first reading, they seemed as unconvincing as the two nocturnes.  Then I heard Leslie Howard playing all 12 of the mazurkas on the “Listen Beyond Today” album.  They sure sounded a lot better than they did when I tried them!  In fact, they sounded quite respectable, Chopinesque enough and very Polish– played with the proper rhythmic fluidity, too.  And when I heard the last of the 12, in G# minor, I nearly wept for joy, because I felt I was truly hearing my friend’s voice again.  That one is lovely, and it has a simple but sophisticated left hand part that I can easily relate to Chopin.  I’m enjoying learning it, and as happens with good music, I’m finding more in it as I practice.  Listen to it here:  https://www.box.com/s/5dhe0hslmbpd81ej8zvl

As I reported last time, “paramusicologist” Melvyn Willin said that there were “the odd one or two” pieces in Mrs. Brown’s opus that he couldn’t explain as “pastiche.”  There are a lot more than one or two, but I know what he meant.  That 12th mazurka is one of them, as is the A flat nocturne, Rachmaninov’s “Sleigh Ride,” “Grübelei” of course, and some others I’ve noticed.  We can all agree that they are good music, wherever they came from.

No matter what one thinks “really” happened, the Rosemary Brown phenomenon is intriguing and, I believe, well worth studying.  What do we know for sure?
– Fraud is not a plausible explanation, for reasons I have outlined in the past and will not bother to repeat.
– The pieces are written in a variety of styles that are recognizably those of the composers named.
– There are a great many pieces; one must say that no matter how they were produced, the output is impressive.
– Quality varies among the pieces.

It is necessary to conclude that one of three things must be true:
1. Mrs. Brown was never in contact with any spirit entity, but got all of the music through somehow tapping into an ability that was beyond the ordinary but still hers alone, or
2. Mrs. Brown was given the music directly by the deceased composers, just as she said, and the clarity of the transmission was variable, with some or all of the pieces unintentionally including input of her own, or
3. Mrs. Brown was given the music by spirit entities only pretending to be those deceased composers, thus explaining the uneven quality.  (These entities would still have to be excellent musicians, and very familiar with the styles of the composers.)

It’s that third possibility that gives me the willies.  My friend Fryderyk has repeatedly indicated, assuming I’ve understood correctly, that he was personally involved in the Brown project, and in fact, as I’ve played and listened to these new pieces in the past week or so, he has shown up a number of times– unfortunately not clearly enough that I could ask questions.  If Mrs. Brown was visited by deceiving entities, that could mean the same thing is happening to me.  I do think this is highly unlikely, for reasons I’ve explained in previous posts, but I keep it in the back of my mind as a possibility, being a proper scientist and never believing that I have possession of all conceivable information.

Regarding possibility #1, I must say, I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry when people insist that the composers weren’t present and didn’t even exist.  I mean, from Mrs. Brown’s point of view, Liszt and the others were right there in the room and totally obvious!  (For my friends who can actually see Fryderyk when he is near me, it’s just as obvious.)  If only I could have met Mrs. Brown and seen her in action, surely I could have gotten some idea whether a given composer was hanging about near her, or at least, whether someone was there.  Any even slightly able psychic could have done that.  Didn’t anyone try?  Most likely they did, but no matter how many subjective perceptions there were, they wouldn’t have been enough to convince those who were determined to believe the whole thing was a crock.  And what if the hypothetical competent psychic determined that no one was there except Mrs. Brown herself?  Again, the phenomenon would still be fascinating and deserving of study.  However, at least once, something happened to show even the non-psychic that an invisible someone was in the room.  As described in Look Beyond Today, Mrs. Brown’s 1986 book:

“On one occasion, Liszt even came up with a ‘party trick’ to help me get through a very difficult encounter.  I was going to be interviewed on television in Birmingham by a lady called Wendy Cooper.  One of my previous books had just been published and the television people were calling in a computer expert who was going to use his professional knowledge to analyse my music and say whether it was genuine or not. 

I felt very uncomfortable but Liszt said to me, ‘Don’t worry.  Everything will be all right.’  Just before we went on the air, the studio was very busy with technicians everywhere.  I hadn’t even seen a copy of my new book yet myself so I picked up the review copy which was to be flashed on screen.  I looked at it, then Wendy took it back and placed it on the piano stool — they had brought in a piano because they wanted me to play some of my pieces from the composers.  After putting down the book, we went and sat some distance away.  There was no one near the piano at all, but I saw Liszt walk over to it and then pick up the book to have a look at the jacket.  He was curious, too.  He had a good look then put it down.  Everyone saw the book move but they could not see Liszt lifting it up.  All they saw was the book rising up from the stool, hovering in mid-air, and then sinking down again.  Everyone about me was thunderstruck.  I said, ‘That’s Liszt.  He just wanted to look at the book.’  From that moment on, my credibility rocketed.  Everyone was looking at me in a different light, and even the computer genius declared my music genuine!

Wendy subsequently wrote an article about this in the Birmingham Post in which she said: ‘In the past I have certainly been sceptical where the supernatural is concerned, and none of the mediums or clairvoyants I have met and interviewed has done anything to change my mind.  Rosemary Brown has — or at the very least she has forced my mind open to the fact that there is something about her story and her music that defies rational explanation.’”

Well, an invisible being may be able to pick up a book, but a nonexistent being definitely can’t.*

Possibility #2 continues to look like the probable truth to me, especially after listening to the BBC broadcast of the obviously puzzled Mrs. Brown trying to get “Grübelei” straight.  But what exactly was going on?  The details, the nuts and bolts of how it worked?  I’m not sure that can be answered completely, but as my own experiences have piled up over the years, perhaps I have a little better understanding.

I’ve never channeled written music, nor found myself improvising brilliantly (or at all, I’m afraid) under Fryderyk’s influence.  However, over the past nearly 20 years I’ve received quite a bit of guidance about piano technique and musical interpretation from that master.  I’ve only posted a small amount of that here, because I’m having considerable trouble organizing it all, and because more keeps coming in and my understanding of it keeps changing– not to mention a certain embarrassment at telling you that Chopin is sometimes my piano teacher.  A few weeks ago, on September 10, I had an experience with him that I thought elucidated some of the issues about musical channeling, and it seems like time to come out with this.

Way back in the late ‘90s, I had one of the biggest thrills of my life, Chopin using my hands to play.  I was an even less advanced player then, and I was pretty limited material for him to work with, but we accomplished something amazing nonetheless.  It was as if he slid his arms and hands inside my own and used them himself, very directly.  I still couldn’t play anything that would have been impossible for me the rest of the time, but musically the result was far beyond what I could produce on my own.  He also was able to cause me to do some things quite differently from the way I had practiced them– I wasn’t simply channeling a more able version of myself (which I’ve also done at times), but rather someone whose thoughts were distinct from mine.  Not long after that, I read Mrs. Brown’s description of Liszt “putting her hands on like gloves,” and I immediately believed her, because exactly that had happened to me.

A healer friend tried to convince me that allowing someone to make use of my body in that way was dangerous, and although I didn’t entirely accept her view, sadly, it never happened again.  (An “evil” entity wouldn’t have cared if he was harming me, but Fryderyk stopped as soon as I expressed concern.)  Years went by before there was any apparent attempt to play with me again, though I longed for it and often asked, and when it finally happened, it seemed he was using a new method.  I didn’t feel anything specifically inside my hands, but there was a sense of being surrounded energetically, all over, and then there was a clear influence that one could hear and see in my playing– influence but not exactly control.  I couldn’t begin to tell you how he was doing it, only that a great deal of the effort was being taken up by someone other than myself, and that I sounded quite different.  That was what happened last month.

I had been struggling mightily with the Fantaisie-Impromptu, which does not respond at all well to struggle of any kind.  My right arm was painful and felt locked up and heavy, unable to move fluidly enough to get anywhere with that piece.  Practicing harpsichord had confused my usual piano habits and increased my difficulties, and I was badly stuck.  Feeling that my invisible teacher was around, I asked for help, hoping it might be one of those all-too-rare times when I could get a clear message.

I could feel a warm energy surrounding me, and there was a strong sensation around my hands, but nothing like the “glove” effect.  It was more a sense of being buoyed up, having support under me.  I tried to put aside any thought of not being able to keep up with him, and I began the piece.  Suddenly I went from stuck in the mud to playing it up to tempo for the first time ever, that is, something like 20% faster than my usual best speed, and with a sense of great freedom and ease, and no pain at all.  The trouble was that every few measures I’d notice the impossible thing I was doing and that would stop me for a moment and break the flow.  It was by no means a fine performance.  Still, it was decidedly more than I’d been able to do just a few minutes earlier.  My mother heard all this– if you don’t believe it, she can vouch for me!

While trying to hang on to this piece that’s at the far edge of my ability, I also had to observe what was happening and figure out why it seemed so much easier.  This is the advantage of not going into trances; although I can’t let go and be completely controlled, which limits how much information can come through me, I can learn directly from what happens.  This was happening awfully fast and for only a few minutes, though, and I was only able to perceive and remember certain aspects of it.  The main thing I got out of it was that I should employ a much larger circular movement of my right arm, initiated from the shoulder; I think before that I was overusing just my forearm, and that was causing the pain.  At any rate, as soon as I did this, the pain stopped.

The next day it turned out that I could do the same, but then I started to lose what I had gained under Fryderyk’s influence.  And as I continued to practice and push toward greater speed, I found new ways to hurt myself, and had to analyze my movements yet again.  At this writing, I feel that I’ve worked through most of the issues that have been holding me back on this piece, and that I’m doing at least most of what Fryderyk was trying to get me to do, as well as what my Earth-based teacher advises.  We’ll see….

Who was playing the Fantaisie-Impromptu that day?  We were, I suppose.  I can’t exactly say that I was channeling Fryderyk’s playing; it was my own playing, but with a lot of help.  My experiences of playing with him, as best I can describe them, have been like two minds using one body, like pilot and copilot.  Most of the time I couldn’t have said where one ended and the other began.  If Mrs. Brown’s experience was anything like mine, perhaps sometimes she was getting a clearer signal from the composers, recording their exact transmission, and other times she was getting more of the music from within herself, and maybe not always sure which was which, because they blended together.  That’s my best guess at this point.

What might the composers have experienced of this?  Can we assume that they came in with a finished composition in mind, and Mrs. Brown simply wrote it down?  If so, did some get transmitted with great accuracy, while others had holes filled, consciously or not, by Mrs. Brown’s own ideas?  Were there as many frustrations for the composers as for their scribe?  If there were errors or omissions, did they always try to go back and fill in the gaps, or did they sometimes decide to leave well enough alone– and could they even perceive those errors while they worked?  Were there times when the music was written in collaboration with Mrs. Brown, using her own (perhaps unconscious) input, rather like my experience of “playing with” rather than being “played through”?  And in cases like that C# minor nocturne, the one that sounds so little like Chopin, did a composer just give Mrs. Brown a little push, then leave her to compose more or less on her own?

It seems to me that fairly often in Brown works, the hand moves to nearby keys that feel intuitively obvious, that is, the way one might naturally do it when improvising.  There’s nothing unusual about that in an “authentic” piece, especially with Chopin.  However, it’s occurred to me that the composers might have found it easier, when pushing Mrs. Brown’s hand to find the next notes, to take the path of least resistance.  The mechanical process of moving her hands may thus have influenced some of the compositions.  This would not have been relevant when the music was being transmitted by dictating note names, but Mrs. Brown has also described both Liszt and Chopin directly placing her hands on the piano keys, leaving her to notate what she had just played.  I can imagine advantages and disadvantages of both methods, and differing effects on the final compositions.  This is an area where I’d so much appreciate some details, and I hope I can get some enlightenment from my composer friend eventually.

So who composed the works of Rosemary Brown?  Her name is on the pages, and I’m comfortable with that, even if the composers who “inspired” the pieces did all the composing.  She still had to do the work of bringing the notes through and putting them on paper– a gigantic amount of work, producing hundreds of pieces over many years.  Perhaps not so different, as she pointed out in the BBC radio program, from the many “real” composers who have felt they were simply downloading the music directly from the heavens.  Although it’s not quite the same thing, I’m reminded of an episode of classic Star Trek, in which a patient in a mental hospital recites a bit of Shakespeare and announces that she has just written it.  Another patient points out that it was written by Shakespeare a long time ago.  “That doesn’t change the fact that I wrote it again myself this morning!” she retorts.

Even more online material about Rosemary Brown has shown up since I wrote the last post a few days ago:

In this video, The Amazing Kreskin interviews Mrs. Brown on his TV show in 1973, and she plays a polonaise attributed to Chopin– a simple but definitely Chopinesque one.  The Brown segment starts at about 8:50.  Although Kreskin was a magician, not a psychic, he was respectful toward his guest.  Later in the program, he shows off his own piano chops with an impressive music-based trick.  I always liked that guy, and now that I know he plays the piano, I like him all the better.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcraiFro0x8

Here is a collection of additional articles about Rosemary Brown, and others regarding mediums and psychics, as well as UFO experiencers:  http://metaphysicalarticles.blogspot.com/  The quote above from Look Beyond Today came from this site.

*A couple of years ago, I wrote about Fryderyk possibly moving a CD from one place to another on a shelf, but that wasn’t witnessed, and remains only an intriguing mystery. 

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