Hanuman Chalisa By Heart (sung by Nina Rao)

hanuman

I will admit this: I’m rather partial to monkeys. I suppose it is because I am born in the Year of the Monkey, according to the Chinese zodiac. One of the most famous Chinese legends is that of the Monkey King, one of the main characters of the Chinese story Journey to the West. The Hindus have Hanuman, their version of the archetypal monkey sovereign — a brave, clever warrior who was utterly devoted to the virtuous Lord Rama, as told in the Indian epic the Ramayana.

In India, the Hanuman Chalisa is a devotional hymn (stotra) sung by millions of Hindus everyday. I first heard it sung in New York City, during one of the kirtan (call-and-response devotional singing) gatherings at the yoga studio of Dharma Mittra, a well-known local yoga teacher. I also remember hearing it being chanted upon entering the famous hilltop temple of Hanuman located near Hampi, India. To my pleasant surprise, it was not the priest, but an American chanting it at Hanuman’s altar — by heart. It was one of the many magical moments in those bouldered hills, supposedly the birthplace of this great hero.

The Hanuman Chalisa consists of 40 main verses, praising the monkey king’s courage, strength, intelligence and complete devotion to the Divine, as embodied by Rama. Here in North America, one might be familiar with the Hanuman Chalisa as sung by American kirtan singer Krishna Das, whose album was recently nominated for a Grammy. But I came across this lovely rendition of the Chalisa sung by Nina Rao, who is Krishna Das’ business manager and tours and sings with him as well. She has a short explanation of the song’s significance at the beginning, but singing starts at 8:12. Via Yogaville Livestream:

More on Hanuman’s remarkable feats, via Kashgar:

Hanuman’s tale as told in the epic Ramayana is renowned for its ability to inspire its readers to face ordeals and conquer obstructions in their own lives. At the time of the Ramayana, Hanuman is sent as an advance spy to Lanka, the capital of the mighty demon Ravana’s empire.  Ravana has provoked Lord Rama by carrying away his beloved wife Sita in order to start a war.  During the epic times that follow, Hanuman brings hope and secret messages to the captive Sita, leads Rama’s monkey army in the Battle of Lanka and single-handedly kills many demons including Lankini, Champion of the demons.  During this time Hanuman is captured by the enemy, only to outwit them with the cunning use of his powers.  He returns to find Lord Rama and his brother Lakshmana themselves captured by the enemy and about to be sacrificed to the goddess Kali by the sorcerer Mahiravana.  In a tale of great daring, Hanuman outsmarts the evil lord into becoming the sacrifice himself, thereby earning the eternal respect of Kali.  She appoints Hanuman as her doorkeeper and today many of her temples are seen to have a monkey guarding their doorways.

After the defeat of Ravana, Rama and Sita are crowned King and Queen of Ayodhya. Hanuman is offered a reward for his bravery and asks only to continue in service to him and to live for as long as men speak of Rama’s deeds. He remains as Rama’s favorite general to this day.

Because of his bravery, perseverance, strength and devoted service, Hanuman is regarded as a perfect symbol of selflessness and loyalty.  Worship of Hanuman helps the individual to counter the bad karma borne out of selfish action, and grants the believer fortitude and strength in his or her own trials during the journey of life.  Hanuman is also invoked in fights against sorcery and protective amulets depicting him are extremely popular among his devotees.

Here are the lyrics and translation of the Hanuman Chalisa, via Nina Rao’s website:

Shree Hanuman Chalisa

Mangala moorati maaruta nandana
You are the embodiment of blessings, Son of the Wind
Sakala amangala moola nikandana
You destroy the root of everything that is inauspicious and harmful

Shree Guru charana saroja raja nijamanu mukuru sudhaari
Taking the dust of my Guru’s lotus feet to polish the mirror of my heart
Baranaun Raghubara bimala jasu jo daayaku phala chaari
I sing the pure fame of the best of Raghus, which bestows the four fruits of life.
Buddhi heenatanu jaanike sumiraun pawana kumaara
I don’t know anything, so I remember you, Son of the Wind
Bala budhividyaa dehu mohin harahu kalesa bikaara
Grant me strength, intelligence and wisdom and remove my impurities and sorrows

Seeyavara Ramchandra pada jai sharanam
Refuge at the feet of Sita’s lord, Ram

1.  Jaya Hanumaan gyaanaguna saagara, Jaya Kapeesha tihun loka ujaagara
Hail Hanuman, ocean of wisdom/Hail Monkey Lord!  You light up the three worlds.
2.  Raama doota atulita bala dhaamaa, Anjani putra Pawanasuta naamaa
You are Ram’s messenger,the abode of matchless power/ Anjani’s son, “Son of the Wind.”
3.  Mahaabeera bikrama bajarangee, Kumatiniwaara sumati ke sangee
Great hero, you area mighty thunderbolt/Remover of evil thoughts and companion of the good.
4.  Kanchana barana biraaja subesaa, Kaanana kundala kunchita kesa
Golden hued andsplendidly adorned/with heavy earrings and curly locks
5.  Haata bajra au dwajaa biraajai, Kaandhemoonja janeu saajai
In your hands shine mace and abanner/ a sacred thread adorns your shoulder.
6. Shankara suwana Kesaree nandana, Tejaprataapa mahaa jaga bandana
You are an incarnationof Shiva and Kesari’s son/Your glory is revered throughout the world.
7. Vidyaawaana gunee ati chaatura, Raamakaaja karibe ko aatura
You are the wisest of the wise, virtuous and very clever/ ever eager to do Ram’s work
8. Prabhu charitra sunibe ko rasiyaa, Raama Lakhana Seetaa mana basiyaa
You delight in hearing of the Lord’s deeds/ Ram, Lakshman and Sita dwell in your heart.
9. Sookshma roopa dhari Siyahin dikhaawaa, Bikata roopa dhari Lankaa jaraawaa
Assuming a tiny form you appeared to Sita/ in an awesome form you burned Lanka.
10. Bheema roopa dhari asura sanghaare, Raamachandra ke kaajasanvaare
Takinga dreadful form you slaughtered the demons/completing Lord Ram’s work.
11. Laayasajeevana Lakhana jiyaaye, Shree Raghubeera harashi ura laaye
Bringing the magic herbyou revived Lakshman/ Shri Ram embraced you with delight.
12. Raghupatikeenhee bahuta baraaee, tuma mama priya Bharatahi sama bhaaee
The Lord of the Raghus praised you greatly/ “You are as dear to me as my brotherBharat!”
13. Sahasabadana tumharo jasa gaawain, asa kahi Shreepati kanta lagaawain
Thousands of mouths will sing  your fame!”/ So saying Lakshmi’s Lord drew you to Himself.
14.Sanakaadika Brahmaadi muneesaa, Naarada Saarada sahita Aheesaa
Sanak and the sages, Brahma, and the munis/ Narada, Saraswati and the King of serpents,
15. Yama Kubera digapaala jahaante, kabi kobida kahi sake kahaante
Yama, Kubera, the guardians of the four quarters/poets and scholars-none can express your glory.
16. Tumaupakaara Sugreevahin keenhaa, Raama milaaya raaja pada deenhaa
You did great service for Sugriva/ bringing him to Ram, you gave him kingship.
17. Tumharomantra Vibheeshana maanaa, Lankeshwara bhaye saba jaga jaanaa
Vibhishana heeded your counsel/He became the Lord of Lanka, as the whole world knows.
18. Yugasahasra yojana para bhaanu, leelyo taahi madhura phala jaanu
Though the sun is millions of miles away/ you swallowed it thinking it to be a sweet fruit.
19. Prabhumudrikaa meli mukha maaheen, jaladhi laanghi gaye acharaja naaheen
Holding the Lord’s ring in your mouth/ it’s no surprise that you leapt over the ocean.
20. Durgamakaaja jagata ke jete, sugama anugraha tumhare tete
Every difficult task in this world becomes easy by your grace.
21. Raamaduaare tuma rakhawaare, hota na aagyaa binu paisaare
You are the guardian at Ram’s door/ no one enters without your permission.
22. Saba sukhalahai tumhaaree sharanaa, tuma rakshaka kaahu ko dara naa
Those who take refuge in you find all happiness/ those who you protect know no fear.
23. Aapanateja samhaaro aapai, teenon loka haanka ten kaanpai
You alone can withstand your own splendor/ the three worlds tremble at your roar.
24. Bhootapisaacha nikata nahin aawai, Mahaabeera jaba naama sunaawai
Ghosts and goblins cannot come near/ Great Hero, when your name is uttered.
25. Naasairoga hare saba peeraa, japata nirantara Hanumata beeraa
All disease and pain is eradicated/ by constantly repeating of your name, brave Hanuman.
26. Sankata ten Hanumaana churaawai, mana krama bachana dhyaana jolaawai
Hanuman, you release from affliction all those/ who remember you in thought word and deed.
27. Saba paraRaama tapaswee raajaa, tina ke kaaja sakala tuma saajaa
Ram, the ascetic king, reigns over all/ but you carry out all his work.
28. Auramanorata jo koee laawai, soee amita jeewana phala paawai
One who comes to you with any yearning/ obtains the abundance of the Four Fruits of Life.
29. Chaaronjuga parataapa tumhaaraa, hai parasidha jagata ujiyaaraa
Your splendor fills the four ages/ your glory is renowned throughout the world.
30. Saadhusanta ke tuma rakhawaare, asura nikandana Raama dulaare
You are the guardian of saints and sages/ the destroyer of demons and the darling of Ram.
31. Ashtasiddhi nau nidhi ke daataa, asa bara deena Jaanakee Maataa
You grant the eight powers and nine treasures/ by the boon you received from Mother Janaki.
32. Raamarasaayana tumhare paasaa, sadaa raho Raghupati ke daasaa
You hold the elixir of Ram’s name/ and remain eternally his servant.
33. Tumharebhajana Raama ko paawai, janama janama ke dukha bisaraawai
Singing your praise, one finds Ram/ and the sorrows of countless lives are destroyed.
34. Anta kaala Raghubara pura jaaee, jahaan janama Hari bhakta kahaaee
At death one goes to Ram’s own abode/ born there as God’s devotee.
35. Auradevataa chitta na daraee, Hanumata se-ee sarva sukha karaee
Why worship any other deities/ from Hanuman you’ll get all happiness.
36. Sankatakatai mite saba peeraa, jo sumire Hanumata bala beeraa
All affliction ceases and all pain is removed/ for those who remember the mighty hero, Hanuman.
37. Jai jaijai Hanumaana Gosaaee, kripaa karahu gurudeva kee naaee
Victory, Victory, Victory Lord Hanuman/ bestow your grace on me, as my Guru!
38. Jo satabaara paata kara koee, chootahi bandi mahaa sukha hoee
Whoever recites this a hundred times/ is released from bondage and gains bliss.
39. Jo yahaparai Hanumaana chaaleesaa, hoya siddhi saakhee Gaureesaa
One who reads this Hanuman Chalisa/ gains success, as Gauri’s Lord (Shiva) is witness.
40. TulaseeDaasa sadaa Hari cheraa, keejai naata hridaya mahaan deraa
Says Tulsi Das, who always remains Hari’s servant’/ “Lord, make your home in my heart.”

Pawanatanayasankata harana mangala moorati roopa
Son of the Wind, destroyer of sorrow,embodiment of blessings
Raama Lakhana Seetaa sahita hridayabasahu sura bhoopa
With Ram, Lakshman and Sita, LIVE IN MY HEART, King of Gods!

Seeyavara Ramchandra pada jai sharanam
Refuge at the feet of Sita’s lord, Ram

Mangala moorati maaruta nandana
You are the embodiment of blessings, Son of the Wind
Sakala amangala moola nikandana
You destroy the root of everything that is inauspicious and harmful

Additional couplet from Ramacharitmanasa sung in “Nina Chalisa”:

Pavana tanaya bal, pavana samaana
budhi viveka vigyana nidhana
kavan so kaaj katin jaga mahin
jo nahin hoya tat tumha pahi

Son of the Wind, you are as strong as the Wind himself. You are
the embodiment of intelligence, discrimination, and true wisdom.
What undertaking in this world is too difficult for you to accomplish?

“The Infinite Proceeds From The Infinite”

The beginning of yet another year, yet another present moment in this holographic emanation of time. How we come back again and again to the infinite Here Now. What is revealed…?

From Wikipedia:

Ancient and medieval Indian scholars have referred to Brihadaranyaka Upanishad as a foundation to discuss psychological theories, the nature of psyche, and how body, mind and soul interact. For example, Adi Shankara in his commentary on the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad explains the relation between consciousness, the mind and the body.

Verse 1.3.28 acknowledges that metaphysical statements in Upanishads are meant to guide the reader from unreality to reality. The metaphysics of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is non-dualism (Advaita). For instance, in verse 2.4.13 Yajnavalkya asserts that everything in the universe is the Self. The nature of reality or Self is described as consciousness-bliss in verse 3.9.28. Neti-neti or (not this—not this) is a method of emphasizing the discovery of the right, by excluding the wrong. The verse 5.1 states that the Universe, Reality and Consciousness is infinite.

पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात्पूर्णमुदच्यते ।
पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ॥
pūrṇam adaḥ, pūrṇam idaṃ, pūrṇāt pūrṇam udacyate
pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya pūrṇam evāvaśiṣyate.
“That (Brahman) is infinite, and this (universe) is infinite. the infinite proceeds from the infinite.
(Then) taking the infinitude of the infinite (universe), it remains as the infinite (Brahman) alone.”

“From infinite or fullness, we can get only fullness or infinite”. The above verse describes the nature of the Absolute or Brahman which is infinite or full, i.e., it contains everything. Upanishadic metaphysics is further elucidated in the Madhu-vidya (honey doctrine), where the essence of every object is described to be same to the essence of every other object. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad looks at reality as being indescribable and its nature to be infinite and consciousness-bliss. The cosmic energy is thought to integrate in the microcosm and in the macrocosm integrate the individual to the universe.

We carry a bit of the Absolute in all of us, and this Absolute-ness pervades everything experientially. What is heard is felt and “Seen” and Known.

Music from Solar Fields.

Cymatics & Mantra: Tapping into Matter with Sound Vibrations

cymatics

The ancients of India believed that all existence arises from sound vibrations. There is a lot of fascinating literature on this, and the bija mantra (seed sound) of AUM is a well-known one. It may seem like some esoteric tidbit, but there is science underlying this ages-old tenet.

A relatively new field in modern science, cymatics (from kyma, Greek for wave) is a term used to describe the study of modal phenomena, visible sound and vibration, which seems to have roots in a very old realization. Cymatics asks: is there a connection between sound, vibrations and physical reality? Do sound and vibrations have the potential to influence matter, or even create it? This is a fascinating question, with profound implications for transforming our way of relating with the world — that the world is not made of separate entities, but in fact consists of a flow of interdependent, interwoven, rippling modularities. It is an engrossing thing to watch complexity increase, as the frequency goes higher and higher:

Beyond YouTube, cymatics has a long history. Its proponents assert that there is a connection between sound and physical reality. From Wikipedia:

In 1787, Ernst Chladni repeated the work of Robert Hooke and published “Entdeckungen über die Theorie des Klanges” (“Discoveries in the Theory of Sound”). In this book, Chladni describes the patterns seen by placing sand on metal plates which are made to vibrate by stroking the edge of the plate with a bow.

Throughout the 1960s, up until his death in 1972, Swiss medical doctor and Anthroposophist, Hans Jenny took a methodological and exhaustive approach to documenting Cymatic phenomena. He coined the term “Cymatics” in his 1967 book, Kymatik (translated Cymatics). Inspired by systems theory and the work of Ernst Chladni, Jenny delved deeply into the many types of periodic phenomena but especially thevisual display of sound. He pioneered the use of laboratory grown piezoelectric crystals, which were quite costly at that time. Hooking them up to amplifiers and frequency generators, the crystals functioned as transducers, converting the frequencies into vibrations that were strong enough to set the steel plates into resonance. He made the resultant nodal fields visible by spreading a fine powder lycopodium spores of a club moss, as well as many other methods and materials.

From his experiments, Jenny theorized that there is a threefold play of forces at work: periodicity, figure and dynamic movement, says Dr. John Beaulieu:

Dr. Jenny observed three fundamental principles at work in the vibratory field on the plate. He wrote, “Since the various aspects of these phenomena are due to vibration, we are confronted with a spectrum which reveals a patterned, figurative formation at one pole and kinetic-dynamic processes at the other, the whole being generated and sustained by its essential periodicity.”

What Dr. Jenny is saying is that one can hear the sound as a wave; he calls this the pole of kinetic-dynamic process. One can see the pattern the sound creates in the plate; he calls this the pole of “patterned-figurative formation”. And if Dr. Jenny were to touch the plate and feel it’s vibration, he would call this the generating pole of ”essential periodicicity”.

Making the jump in connecting sound with matter may seem too much, but Jenny was unequivocal that sound vibration is inextricable from the rest:

Since the various aspects of these phenomena are due to vibration, we are confronted with a spectrum which reveals patterned, figurate formation sat one pole and kinetic-dynamic processes at the other, the whole being generated and sustained by its essential periodicity. These aspects however, are not separate entities but are derived from the vibrational phenomenon in which they appear in their “unitariness”. Even though one or the other may predominate in this or that phenomenon, we invariably find these three elements present.

In other words, the series we have formulated is in reality confluent in homogeneous activity. It is not that we have configuration here and organized pattern there, but that every effect of vibration bears the signature of configuration, movement and a play of forces. We can, so to speak, melt down our spectrum and observe the action of its various categories as a continuous play in one and the same entity.

If we wish to describe this single entity, we can say this: there are always figurate and patterned elements in a vibrational process and a vibrational effect, but there are also kinetic and dynamic elements; the whole is of a periodic nature and it is this periodicity which generates and sustains everything. The three fields — the periodic as the fundamental field with the two poles of figure and dynamics — invariably appear as one. They are inconceivable without each other. It is quite out of the question to take away the one or the other; nothing can be abstracted without the whole ceasing to exist.

It would be interesting to discover the intersection between the modern cymatics and the ancient teachings of the Rig Veda about sound, in particular mantra (the root “man-” means “to think” or “mind,” and “-tra” meaning “instrument of thought”).

It’s been said that mantras, which are traditionally sounded in the ancient language of Sanskrit, are designed to create sounds that literally vibrate in the body. According to Dr. David Frawley, author of “Wisdom of the Ancient Seers,” mantra is not like our ordinary, artificial and rigid language, but is an organic “language in which sound and meaning correspond”:

[Mantric language] is a science of sound wherin the meaning and force of all sounds is known and developed toward mergence in the Divine Word. [..]

[Words in mantric language] are not names in our ordinary sense at all. They are the essential sound-idea behind the object that evokes its being, which becomes the tool whereby its essence is grasped. They are the mantric names of objects which arise within the mind in meditative perception, as the mark of entry of the being of the object into the fabric of the mind. [..] They are the vibration of the mind uniting with the being of the object in the unity of seeing. [..] In the mantric sense, therefore, to name is to know the nature of the thing, to touch its essence.

Essentially for the ancients, sound, vibration and matter were one and the same. Language for them was a way to tap into the cosmic unity of all creation, unlike our use of language(s), which often serves to fracture us into different nations, religions and identifications. It does seem that primal sound — without modern, separatist, linguistic leanings — could be our ultimate salvation. Frawley notes that during the Satya Yuga, or Golden Age of prehistory, it is said that humans spoke only one language and were spiritually more developed and united. He continues on about how this mantric language differs from our languages today:

Such mantric names do not reflect an arbitrary cultural usage. They reflect the archetypal vibrations behind all phenomenal objects, the vibrations of the Divine Word itself. This is not a religious belief, but the vibratory energy of cosmic intelligence that informs all things. [..]

Such language really has only one word, which is the cosmic word of truth and harmony. It has only one message: that all is Divine, all a formation of the Divine Word. It has no practical message… or bias. Its purpose is to break all the barriers of the mind and merge it into the unity of cosmic intelligence — to break all our limiting constructs and dissolve the mind into the direct seeing of unconditioned being.

Is sound a vibrational thought-form, made manifest in physical reality by the periodic modulation of space-time? No wonder the study and practice of mantra is a whole discipline unto itself, with numerous benefits. It appears that sound is a tool, one that can be used intentionally, whether for uniting us all, or keeping ourselves in ignorance. Read more over at Soulwise.

“Donimo” by Cocteau Twins

I first heard about Cocteau Twins via Chinese singer Faye Wong. Ethereal and otherworldly, a kind of rhapsodic glossolalia from the higher dimensions. Of course, in reality, there is another story behind the music. Betrayal, broken promises and denial, via The Guardian:

[Lead singer Elizabeth] Fraser’s decision to pull out of the reformation was made for the same reasons that contribute to the band’s split in the first place: she could no longer face working with the group’s guitarist, Robin Guthrie – her lover until 1993, and the father of her first child. But while they were together, the Cocteau Twins established themselves as one of the three main pillars of British alternative music, alongside New Order and the Smiths. Guthrie provided shimmering swathes of effects-laden guitar – surely the inspirtation for what then Radio 1 DJ Steve Wright’s spoof rock critic character called “sonic cathedrals of sound” – while real critics swooned over Fraser’s otherworldly and often incomprehensible vocals, one describing her singing – to her embarrassment – as “the voice of God.”

She and Guthrie were lovers for 13 years, during which time the difficulties any relationship faces were compounded by being in a band together. “We were so close, but certain responsibilities were too much for us,” Fraser says. The birth of their daughter Lucy-Belle in 1989 “didn’t impact as positively” as she’d hoped.

There were resentments on both sides, she says. They were “outgrowing each other” and Fraser was increasingly unhappy in the band. She resented “doing what people wanted all the time” and began to break free, a process documented on the unusually direct lyrics of the 1993 album Four-Calendar Cafe. The situation was sharpened by Guthrie’s dependency on alcohol and drugs, revelations (which came from him, after the band’s split) that shocked fans. But Fraser’s own unhappiness was unnoticed by her colleagues.

“I turned to others for some sort of reality check, [but] they hadn’t even noticed there was a problem,” she says. “And that was another thing that sent me absolutely round the bend. When you need things measured and it’s not happening it can make you feel quite mad.” Fraser endured a nervous breakdown, and underwent a course of psychotherapy. Today, she remains irked by the suggestion Guthrie made after completing rehab, that he’d needed the drugs to make the music.

“I don’t believe that and I don’t think he believed that in the beginning,” she insists. “I mean, I tried to keep up, but I find it difficult enough to communicate anyway. On drugs I just shut down. I just thought they’d get fed up with it, and get into something … healthy.” She allows herself a chuckle. “But it never worked out.”

iambic – Touch the Sky

Insanely lovely track.

iambic is an electronic music act based in London, UK which was created by Guy Andrews in 2004. The music is based around the ambient genre but fuses elements of many other styles together including Jazz, Soundscape, IDM, Post-Rock and Break Beat to create a new and evocative sound.

Since the release of the first iambic LP ‘Under These Stars, We’ll Sleep Again’ on the Austrian based electronica label ‘Laridae Records’ at the start of 2007 , iambic’s fan base has steadily risen both in the UK and abroad. Due to this, Guy was asked to create a live act for his music and has now played live gigs both in the UK and abroad.

I love the acoustic instruments mixed with the downtempo electronic beat, making it more emotionally evocative. Emotions are a language of their own, our heart center being the mouthpiece of this language, and nothing puts the heart into eloquence than music — hopefully, stuff of the uplifting kind.

Indigo

One of my favorite remixes of all time (Androcell remix of Tripswitch’s “Indigo”). A must-love, the layered outer-space vastness of the beginning that touches down to a transmission back home to Earth.

“Well, we’re two-thirds of the way to the Galactic center. [..] But we definitely are in outer space.”

Whenever I listen to this track, my ears tell my brain that there’s a sense our cosmic origins are calling back down to us. Something high and positive, travelling at the speed of light.

Rhythm & Hues: The Live EP

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Combining jazz and the Chinese zodiac — a novel idea. The Live EP from Montréal-based group Rhythm & Hues — masterminded by musician and composer Parker Mah — does just that. Six tracks are available to listen (and download for free for a limited time) over at Bandcamp.

Based on his brief, I worked with Parker to create the cover album, which features a rhythmic emanation of “soundforms” — folded, constellated space — originating from a glowing image of the Chinese luo pan, which is used in ancient geomantic practices, and synthesizes knowledge of the heaven and stars with that of the earth. The all-important lunar cycle is depicted by the ring of phasing moons below. Like Parker’s album concept, the idea is that sound vibrations underlie all reality/matter, and seen through a composer’s eye, can even describe the essence of character as well.

From the webpage:

This EP represents one half of a series of original portraits based on the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac, inspired by jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams’ seminal 1945 album The Zodiac Suite.

12 people, each acquaintances and each born under a different Chinese astrological sign, were captured in individual portraits – 6 musical portraits and 6 video portraits – and presented at Studio 01 at OBORO in May 2012.
The entire work, entitled 12 CHARACTERS, was commissioned by the Festival Accès Asie in Montreal for “Moments,” an annual performance series based loosely around the themes of Networks and Interactions (be they across cultures, borders or disciplines), and highlighting emerging Asian-Canadian artists.

Woven together as a continuum of aural and visual vignettes, these oblique yet concise portraits were inspired by people and their qualities as seen through the composer’s eye. By layering present experiences over past histories, 12 Characters became a potent living statement on mixed self-identities and the diverse qualities that unite us, presented through video projections and a live musical performance.

The musical portion of this project, recorded live at the performance, are now being released for the first time as a stand-alone 6-track EP. Enjoy!

* * * * * * * * *

Cet EP est composé de la moitié d’une série de portraits originaux basés sur les douze signes de l’horoscope chinois. Cette série s’inspire de l’album incontournable de la pianiste de jazz Mary Lou Williams, intitulé The Zodiac Suite (1945).

12 personnes, chacune née sous un des 12 signes de l’horoscope chinois, ont inspiré des portrait individuels – soit 6 pièces musicales et 6 vidéos.

L’oeuvre tout entière, intitulée 12 CARACTÈRES, a été présentée au Festival Accès Asie à OBORO en mai 2012 dans le cadre de “Moments,” une série de performances basée autour des thématiques de Réseau et Interaction qui met en valeur des artistes émergeants de la diaspora asiatique. Tissés dans un continuum de vignettes sonores et visuelles, ces portraits obliques mais concis s’inspirent des gens et de leurs qualités filtrés par l’oeil du compositeur. En superposant expériences actuelles et récits anciens, 12 Caractères devient une affirmation forte et vivante des identités métissées et des diverses qualités qui nous unissent, prenant la forme de projections vidéos et de performances musicales.

La portion musicale de ce projet, enregistrée en direct pendant la performance, vous est offerte pour la première fois en format téléchargeable.

Fall Equinox Mix

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Here’s an electronic music set that my husband and I put together for a September party in Montreal, under the banner of Dharmakaya. The track selections were almost split evenly down the middle between me and him, surprisingly, but it took lots of work to whittle it down, and for me to learn the basic techniques of operating a pair of CD-J mixers…! All in all, a very positive experience, many thanks to the dancers :)

Tracklist:

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