Thursday, July 14, 2005

summer evening bhajans

I was recently introduced to a couple of healers called Will and Yig who live just down the road - they're friends with Rupert, Vaughan, John and Clare (all part of COTD). They sing bhajans as part of their daily evening meditation, and as yesterday was such a perfect summer day, they invited me to join them and Rupert out in their beautiful garden for a session.

Yig plays a harmonium, Will plays a dholak (Indian double-ended drum) and they both sing. Rupert added extra percussion, and I improvised on my saz.

I particularly like playing with bhajans - they're relatively simple, repetitive, and trance-like, and there are endless possibilities for intuitive melodic and harmonic exploration. I remember playing with a group of Hare Krishnas at Stonehenge, summer solstice 2001. The sonic environment was dominated by clumsy, drunken djembe-bashing, but out on the perimeter, a little enclave of Krishnas was producing this wonderfully clean, precise and ecstatic devotional music, and welcomed me to play along. A couple of years later I was invited along to play at the Exeter Krishna group's diwali celebration at the Friends Meeting House, and a Green Gathering a couple of summers back I found myself playing bhajans with a group of Avalonian types based around a small yurt which had been made into a temple to Radha, Krishna's female consort.

image from

I'd like to do more of this. Although I don't seem to be able to adhere to any particular belief system, it feels very good for my whole being to play bhajans. I wholeheartedly approve of the whole phenomenon of devotional music and the recognition that music can act as a sort of bridge between the material and immaterial worlds.

It doesn't really feel appropriate to record this stuff, as that would be too much like trying to pin down or capture something which should properly be given away freely as an offering to the source of creation, or to one's higher self. But there may come a time when it feels right to do this, in which case I'll make any such recording available here.


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