By Nevill Drury...
It's not very often that a writer has an opportunity to work with a musician creating a specific range of compositions, but since I have just been involved in a collaboration of this sort, I thought I would describe it here.
A few years ago, I was commissioned by German book publisher Bauer-Verlag to write an overview of New Age music which also had a practical orientation. The idea was to select recorded music that could be used as an adjunct to meditation and visualisation. I'm personally very interested in the esoteric traditions like the Kabbalah, Tarot, Yoga and the rebirth aspects of The Egyptian Book of The Dead.
Each of these provide a framework for personal development and open pathways to the spiritual dimensions of the mind. I worked on the book for a year, condensing the main symbolic themes of the different mystical paths and endeavouring to present the material in a way that was authentic but accessible. After all, cosmology and mysticism can get a little abstruse at times. Anyhow, my German publisher was pleased with the book and the workshop exercises, and also with the New Age music listings included in it, but he made a good suggestion: why not have a series of accompanying cassettes created specially for the workshops?
This is where Australian New Age composer Japetus came into the story. Readers (and listeners) will know of Japetus as a result of his fine recordings The Great Great Silence and Once Around the Sun. I suggested Japetus to the German publisher and as a result we were commissioned to develop a series of cassettes based on the esoteric traditions mentioned earlier. These have now been released as Music for Inner Space, in Germany, Britain, USA and Australia, and the book issued in an English language edition.
It certainly wasn't easy for Japetus to translate into synthesiser music the archetypes of the Major Arcana of the Tarot or the sun-god's passage through the dark halls of the Egyptian Underworld. But he has done it brilliantly. There are also soaring sequences of music for the ascent of consciousness in the Kabbalah and compositions based on the cyclic symbolism of the Zodiac. Japetus also wrote a fine composition to assist in the arousal of Kundalini through the different chakras. In writing the book, I took a different approach from musician Steven Halpern, who is well known for his ambient piano compositions. In developing his music, Halpern divides the chakras into bands of rainbow colours - which sounds appealing at first, but is a departure from authentic Hindu tradition.
What I did in Music for Inner Space, and what Japetus has done in the accompanying music, is to focus on the five elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Spirit - since these are universals in the different esoteric traditions. It also makes sense when you describe passages as "water" music or "fire" music -most people can relate to that type of distinction. With this in mind, there are listings in the book of different New Age album tracks.