The Music of David Salminen

Archive for October, 2011

the idea of transcending “geocentric philosophies”

“Science has widened man’s horizons far beyond his earthly existence, and yet scientists do not notice that they have made possible a new way of thinking about the world, that would take account of the changes of scale that have put geocentric philosophies, once and for all, out of serious consideration.”  J.G. Bennett, p. 187 of his 1973 book “Gurdjieff – Making a New World”

J.G. Bennett – who I met in 1971 and subsequently studied music with, at his International Academy for Continuous Education at Sherborne near Cheltenham, England – was a major influence on the development of my thinking. An interest in not only modern concepts, but also modern feelings – for the Cosmos we are all a part of – has been a major inspiration for my music.

David’s long-term project

The free concert at 3 pm, Saturday, October 29, 2011 – “Into the Dark” – at the Sherman Clay Pianos recital hall in Portland feels quite imminent to me now. After all, it’s been coming together as a musical inspiration for about nine months, initiated really by a perhaps offhand comment from my friend Anthony Blake… but it is part of a much longer arc of creativity:

Beyond what I have written elsewhere, let me try to explain… I am on a long-term journey to create musical occasions in which we can get at something deeper than a “spectacle” or an “experience” – both of which are fine, as far as they go. I hold dear the ancient idea of music in various cultures. For instance, I relish the attitudes of the classical Greek culture, which held that “music is a moral law” (Plato) and the ancient Chinese, who expected the Emperor to “set the tone” – as a musical pitch, literally – for the coming year. I am most inspired, however, by a more modern approach as found for instance in Kepler, who was looking for a “harmony of the spheres” corresponding to the actual observational data that was being collected in his time – for the first time, as far as we know, in human history – about the movement of the planets. For much of my life, I myself have been looking at these things as metaphors for new kinds of self-perception for us as individuals and for even the human race as a whole. Years ago I read in a book by a particular musicologist who I greatly respect, about the usefulness of the Ptolemaic point of view (the earth is the center of all things, with various heavens or layers of reality above it) as an aid to meditation, as compared with the post-Copernican model, which is – according to some – less amenable for most of us as a metaphor or picture of spiritual unfolding. This bothered me; why should contemporary meditation or mysticism be dependent on outmoded models of the universe!  I suppose that I have always been something of a mystic, but I am also the son of a scientist… and somehow, I have always, also by nature I guess, been looking for progress in mysticism that could be parallel to, and not divorced from, the development of the sciences of our time. These days, due to the immense progress being made “as we speak” in astrophysics and cosmology, much of it having to do with researches into the nature of gravity, and the application of what is called “gravitational lensing”  – which has been poetically referred to now as “Einstein’s Telescope” *– there are whole new vistas of understanding  and contemplation opening up that are just waiting for us to enter, to appreciate, and to share.

*”Einstein’s Telescope -the hunt for dark matter and dark energy in the universe” is the title of a fine book by Evalyn Gates

Vera Rubin

The October 29, 2011 concert is dedicated to astronomer Vera Rubin – really a legend in our time – who did some of the foundational research in the 1960’s and 1970’s that indicated unexpected galactic behavior and necessitated a complete re-assessment of where the bulk of the mass of the universe is to be located, along the lines of…  maybe there’s ‘dark matter’ out there!  Being a truly independent thinker, Rubin entertains a different explanation of her pioneer data collections than many of her colleagues…  At any rate, her overall attitude is truly inspirational: “The joy and fun of understanding the universe, we bequeath to our grandchildren – and to their grandchildren.”

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