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What is sacred sound?


In the quest to understand the deep connections between music and the environment, one returns very frequently to this question. As a songwriter, my hope is to write lyrics and melodies and arrangements which somehow remind people of the fact that there is such a thing as a deep, organic connection to nature... that far from being something alien or esoteric, it is perhaps the most natural thing for us, to feel in deep connection with the planet. Yet the closer I get to being able to communicate these sentiments, the more I feel like such connection is a vanishing point. How can we possibly convey, in music or in writing or in any other medium, the great Mystery that is sound? How can we convey the great Mystery that is nature, that is humanity, and is all the places where the two meet?


Sacred music across the world has, over millennia, delved into sounds that do sound cosmic, indeed. They carry with them thousands of years of yearning and seeking. They awaken us to the vibrations that run through existence. And whenever I listen to this music, the more I feel unbelievably humbled to it. It is just, beyond, beyond anything that any individual can hope to express. I suppose what I mean to say is that to experience the Mystery, we should not necessarily try to find it in our own songwriting practice. We should turn instead to this astonishing truth: that all of human history has been, in some way, a relationship with that Mystery, and that the sounds of the universe will always be beyond us. Perhaps the world's mystical poetry and mystical music is undergirded by that realization. That we do not understand, that we cannot, and still, we search.