The State of the Art
The advent of the
World Wide Web in the mid-1990s was a monumental occasion for
Mary Ellen and I, and it was with great anticipation that we launched the DoveSong
website in 1997. This medium was finally
offering us a platform from which we could make our message
available on millions of desktops situated all over the world.
DoveSong was now just a click away.
the advent of the mp3-encoding technology, we accomplished
another great step when in 2000 we were able to begin placing
actual recordings of great music on the site for anyone to download.
to relate a little about my background, music
has always had such a major place in my life. When I was just
three years old, I listened to my 78 RPM recordings of
Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Brahms Hungarian Dances, and
music from Delibes’ Coppélia over and over again. Music
spoke to my soul, my essence. As a young boy in grammar
school, when all of the kids were at recess on the playground,
I would go off by myself to compose orchestral and operatic
music in my head. By the time I was in the fifth grade, I had
discovered the popular music of the early 1950s that was then
current and my
favorite compositions, such as those by Leroy Anderson, were
like winged angels bringing healing to my being.
the span of my life, I have discovered so much great
music…music that sings with a lofty beauty, that ennobles
the soul, that breathes a rapture and a goodness…music that
adds so much value to life…music that lives and loves. I
have collected this music over the years, caring for it,
tending it, knowing that one-day that I would somehow make it
available to others.
there was a period in my life when I found myself following
the dark side of music. I didn’t know it was the dark
side…I didn’t even know that there was
a dark side to music. In 1965, I became curious, then
interested, and finally addicted to what was then called Contemporary
Classical Music. This was the music of Arnold Schönberg,
Anton Webern, John Cage, and Pierre Boulez among others. It
was discordant, intellectual music. By 1968, I was studying
privately with contemporary composer Morton Feldman, writing discordant
music, and playing angry, discordant atonal guitar leads in a
rock band that I had formed. When I played with this group, I
didn’t bother to tune my instrument at all because by
leaving it untuned, I could create violent, ugly discords.
Also, I played guitar leads by plucking the strings, then by
slowly changing the tuning knobs at the end of the neck, I
would create long hellish solos that had no exact pitch. My
music was loud, belligerent and atonal, and it shocked every
single person who heard it.
I soon discovered what I called the duochord
and this caused me to realize that I was playing negative
music (as documented here).
In 1969 I recorded my Album Dawn
to present my discovery of positive and negative music in a
musical format. Immediately after finishing the album, I went
to Mexico to live for six months and there I took advantage of
my time away from the music scene in the United States to
clear my mind and to release myself from my addiction to
the following decade, I concentrated on learning more about
positive music. In fact I spent ten years of my free time in
study, meditation, and listening to positive music. Then in
1979, I began performing publicly and I recorded my album Celestial
Ascent. I also began speaking publicly about Positive
and Negative music.
Soon after, Mary Ellen and I met and began producing seminars
about the effects of music.
of positive and negative music has been difficult to get
across over the years. Not many people understand that it is
the music itself that we are talking about, not just the words,
and that music has a definite effect upon living things.
Meanwhile, I have watched the state of music in the world
plummet. I had already had my own excursion into negative music.
Mine lasted for several years. For the past thirty years I
have been witnessing a long,
slow decline in the state of music in the world around me, and few people
seem to be aware of it. I am talking about edgy, angry and
dark music such as is found in alternative and heavy metal
music and the lack of beauty and inspiration in much of
today's classical music.
is an art. It is a very special and very sacred art. Being as
aware of this as I am, it is disturbing to me to realize the
position that music holds in the world today. What I would do if I
could only help people who haven't had the opportunity to experience the kind of feelings that I
experience when I listen to music. How painful it is for me
when I talk with young people today who are convinced that minimalism
is something to be taken seriously, or that John Cage’s
music is actually worth listening to. John Cage is all
about philosophy, not about inspiration and depth of feeling. How sad it is for me to
see young people in their teens, twenties, thirties and even
forties who listen adoringly to totally inferior music,
garbage, if you will, and believe that they have somehow
discovered the Holy Grail! How amazed I am when I talk to
people who somehow believe that musicians smashing their
instruments on stage is a normal and enjoyable part of a
I realize that not all contemporary popular music is negative
but a lot of it is. I
hope my readers realize that I am not on a campaign against
any kind of music. In fact, there are a number of
contemporary artists and songwriters that I love, and
that I like to listen to. I am very excited about some
of the events that are taking place in today's music. The
R&B group Boys II Men spawned a music of feeling with
beautiful harmonies that was followed up by groups such as
Boyzone, the Backstreet Boys and the Irish Band Westlife. The
Irish group The Corrs have combined traditional instruments
with pop music and created some very beautiful music. At the
time of this writing, they are not well-known in the US, where
positive pop music is having a difficult time, but have sold a
phenomenal number of CDs elsewhere (something over 26
million!). Then there are great singers like Celine Dion and
other day, a younger friend of mine from New York who has always been
wrapped up in MTV for years asked me if I liked Bob Marley.
he is OK,” I said.
he retorted. “He’s GREAT”.
Beethoven is great. Bob Marley is OK,” I answered
was trying to make a point. My friend had been listening to me
preach Victoria, Franck, Wagner, Palestrina, Beethoven and
Bach for years, and yet somehow he had never fully gotten
it. To me, one real experience with the Wotan’s
Farewell from the end of Wagner's Die Walküre, and
a person's baseline measurement for what music is all about
will go way up. My heart aches as I watch the young people around me who
have never truly experienced the great works
of musical art.
is time to understand, to teach, to finance, and to reform Music. It’s time to understand that Jimi Hendrix was
not a God and that music wasn’t born with Led Zeppelin and
John Cage. A change is in order. It is possible, and it will
occur. But it will take dedication, time and money to make it
is like food. In fact, it is
food. We have spawned a culture of young people who think good
food is available at McDonalds, Pizza Hut, and at sports bars.
As I travel across the face of America, each town that I drive
into presents the same tired restaurants, all owned by a
handful of mega-conglomerates, all serving the same dreary,
tired, fried garbage, and we, as a people, have grown
accustomed to this, just as we have grown accustomed to the
music that we have grown up with: the music from the radio and
on TV…the music we buy at Wal-Mart and Target. A new Target store opened recently near my home and I
found that in it's music section, there was not one classical
truth is that we can only grow personally by moving away from
the influence of the mass mind. Are all of the movies that we
watch really that funny, that inspiring, that fulfilling? Are
we really eating good food, or just crappy food that we have
become accustomed to, or even addicted to? And the
music…what about the music?
it is time to listen to a different drummer! And for those who
have already listened, it is up to us to help those around us
who are ready and willing to listen. I realize that not
everyone is ready, but for music to succeed as an Art, for the
Great and the Positive to flourish, those who understand must
help promote and teach it! If it can only be found on a few
obscure web sites, or on a few “special order” CDs, and it
is not recognized otherwise, then the overbearing influence of
the music that is on TV and the radio will be all that most
people will hear or know about.
a part of the team at DoveSong.com, Mary
Ellen and I thank all those who have helped support our work
with music, and we welcome all the newcomers. DoveSong.com has
grown tremendously in the past few years, with thousands of
people visiting the site each day. We ask you all to consider
the reality that music can be a great expression of the heart
and soul. It can help the spirit unfold, it can heal the
broken heart, it can inspire and touch the depths of our
being. Whether it be classical, pop, folk, or country; music
that is inspired, music that is art should be recognized as
such and promoted...given a place of distinction in this
world. We love ya!