OK, tell me about your latest CD.
It’s called Labyrinth and is inspired by the spiritual experience of walking a labyrinth. The labyrinth is a unicursal path which is different from a maze. In a labyrinth there are no false paths or dead ends. There is one path in and one path out. Sometimes they are the same path. Walking a labyrinth can be a good meditative practice.
The music also illustrates some of my most important musical influences including Richard Wright, the keyboardist from Pink Floyd, Jean-Michel Jarre, and Vangelis.
How did you arrive at the labyrinth as a musical inspiration?
I have always had an interest in labyrinths. I remember as a young boy being fascinated by the story of Theseus and the Minotaur. The Minotaur lived in a labyrinth on the island of Crete. After hearing the story I began drawing labyrinths. At some point my interests moved on but the labyrinth was always there.
A few years ago I discovered that there is actually a vibrant movement to support the use of labyrinths. I read Lauren Artress’ book Walking a Sacred Path and began thinking about how to use the labyrinth as a metaphor for composition. I even built myself a grass labyrinth!
How can the labyrinth be a metaphor for music?
Like a labyrinth, music requires a structure. For the labyrinth the structure is the path. Objectively, the path is the same for everyone. But, the subjective experience is different for everyone who walks the labyrinth. Similarly, the structure of music including the notes, scales, and chords are the same for every composer. But, what the composer does with those is different. Likewise, the listening experience is subjective and touches everyone differently. I have also incorporated various references to the labyrinth into the music as well.
Tell me more about these.
The labyrinth is basically a circle. The Cretan labyrinth has seven cycles just as the Labyrinth composition has seven parts. In music, scales and keys are arranged in what is called a circle of fifths. You can go from one scale and key to the next by going up a fifth. Like walking a labyrinth, eventually you end where you began. In Labyrinth 1, this element is present but in thirds. The chords in the piece progress by ascending in thirds beginning with C minor. Once all the chords are cycled through the piece ends where it began with C minor.
In Labyrinth 2 and 3 there are two distinct melodies which are sometimes played together and sometimes separately. This represents the possibility for more than one person to walk the labyrinth at a time and for each to have unique subjective experience. Because the experience is tied to the objective form of the labyrinth there is a similarity but within that similarity variation is possible.
Each piece varies in tempo from medium slow to medium fast to represent the various speeds at which people can walk the labyrinth. The three slow pieces are at the beginning, middle, and end representing points of the labyrinth where walkers might slow down their pace. Standing before the labyrinth, standing in the center, and contemplating the labyrinth when you exit are periods of relative stillness. Parts 2, 3, 5, and 6 represent walking the labyrinth cycles at a slightly quicker pace.