Messages from Sound, 11/9/09

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Jason always communicated with sound in interesting ways, since he was a baby. Did he choose me as a parent because his soul knew I am also connected with sound, and would co-found a sound healing organization (www.soundhealingnetwork.org, originally New England Sound Healing Research Institute, NESHRI)? Or did he influence my path? I’m guessing both.

I am reflecting upon and exploring my connection with Jason through sound and music. I am confident we can communicate through this connection in his new form.

When I was pregnant with Jason I discovered improvisation. My mind had always been steadfast in believing I couldn’t play my viola without reading music. During my pregnancy I was singing with some kirtan musicians who encouraged me to play along on my instrument. In a meditative state I played around with sounds from my viola until I could tune in and trust where my fingers would go to play the right notes. The feedback from my new fans propelled me into my career as gifted improviser. Within a few years I could do this without needing to be in meditation; I could set my controlling mind aside and follow the guidance of music spirits. I wasn’t playing my instrument – Spirit was and continues to play it for me, as I step out of the way! Jason grew up with this influence, but I’m guessing his presence got it all going in the first place!

Jason always responded to sound and music. I think all babies do, but Jason always added a unique flair to every experience, giving and receiving. We communicated with sounds. He let me know he was OK with his sounds. In fact, if he wasn’t playing with his voice or other sounds as a toddler, I wondered if something was up and I would go check on him. He was always listening to the subtlety of sound. He trained to be a gifted percussionist and composer his entire life, just by listening and being with the vibrations. It was more than being brought up with parents who played music. He was a sound researcher, and he received messages through sound.

Jason loved to sing. As a young child he memorized beautiful long complicated Sanskrit chants. He preferred memorizing all the long latin names of plants, as opposed to the common names, in books on plants that he wanted me to read to him before he could read. He also learned quickly, with his wonderful sense of humor, how to lighten up any situation with ridiculous sounds. He also knew how to “torture” me with sound, such as when he and Julie or Katie or Calandra would repeat songs incessantly because they knew they were driving me crazy, a fun game we would play

Jason loved being sung to. When he was stuck doing homework, I would play with my voice and accents to get him out of his stuckness and enjoy the moment. When he was older and got stuck in his communication with me, I would play with my voice to get his attention and be light about our communication. We would play a lot with sound together. Our silliness always involved ridiculous sounds.

Jason loved listening to all kinds of music. He was always doing his research. We enjoyed listening to CDs together in the car, being present with each other in our common interest of listening to sound and tuning into the spirit of the sound, getting ideas for our own improvisations or compositions, and often sharing them. Jason introduced me to many new genres of music that I wouldn’t have found on my own, and I am grateful. I have been listening to his CD mixes in the car as he rides next to me, feeling the music vibrations and his smile.

When Ben, my former partner and a gifted musician and sound healer, and our healing music ensemble Bluegate (with Christine and Kem) played music, Jason listened and was one of our biggest fans. He enjoyed joining me and my soundhealing friends with drums in our sound healing circles, resurfacing from his music studio as a teenager to join us in sound, even if he wasn’t up for conversation. In his early teens, Jason was drawn to hanging with Ben at our home in Beverly and then in New York City (Ben moved there when we moved to Ipswich) with Ben’s son and one of Jason’s closest friends Noah, jamming with the wild musicians, and playing with many different instruments. Although Jason’s main instrument was the drum set (that he quickly learned, being a natural in coordinating all 4 limbs to play complex rhythms), he played around with the keyboard, guitars, and many wild-sounding instruments such as the waterphone that played whale sounds. When we found the waterphone in a hole-in-the-wall music store in Greenwich Village in New York City, Jason grabbed it and insisted on helping to pay for it because he just had to have that sound.

Jason was influenced by Ben to sample sounds from different instruments or household noisemakers, gargling voices, drums, Tibetan bowls, natural thunder, and even the sound of a toilet flushing or a garage door opening (the song Grand Opening). He would slow these sounds down, change the pitch, and do other creative and technical things to these sounds, transforming them into soundscapes that transport us to magical places. He managed to get a sound out of a Thai stringed instrument called the Saw-U (that I never figured out how to play well) and transform it into etheric sounds from magical creatures – in Enocenip of his first CD, Drinnel. Jason was a natural sound healer and composer; he tuned in to the sound and the spirit of the sound, and shared the products of his connection with the magical world of sound with us. He could have composed for movie soundtracks; perhaps his music will make it there someday!

On the lighter side, Jason and his friends Gus, Dustin, Andy, and a few other guests created the DiabeticBunnyDucks CDs – Your Face Is Huge, Grow A Lung, and Leap of Filth; 2005-2008 collections of intentionally bad (and sometimes actually quite creative) music with silly sounds and lyrics that get anyone laughing. (I’m working on The Best of DB, sounds that the older generations can listen to without having to turn the volume down!).

I recently set up my portable recording studio next to Jason’s desk in his studio downstairs, now a memorial to his photography, music, and his life. With a little technical support, I will be recording my music side by side with Jason and his inspiration. Jason – I plan to put those tracks on a few of the pieces we talked about; I hope you like it!

Jason always communicated with sound in interesting ways, and I will continue to communicate with him with creative sound!