A commentary on the history, contexts, and meanings of the word "genius."

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Conductor: Medium of Divine Communication

The Conductor:
Medium of Divine Communication

Music is spoken of as the universal language. All people understand music. However it is precisely the fact that all people understand it, that indicates that music is not a language at all, but something higher. A language is a system of symbols with refer to tangible things. Although there are logical identifiable symbologies present and music of all times and places, the archetypal forms underlying these linguistic eccentricities do not refer to physical realities. These archetypal forms are divine realities manifesting in the physical-the spirit made flesh (or something like flesh-sound). These forms are not symbols for things, but actual spiritual truths brought into an objectification as sound in air.

The higher mind of man perceives and vibrates sympathetically with these truths and sends impressions down to the lower mind (what we call the conscious mind, although it is only a tiny fraction of total consciousness), where thoughts or ideas are created. In the sense that these thoughts are created in response to music, music may be thought of as a language, but it is a language removed by one; initial appreciation of music as a spiritual (therefore universal) reality has nothing whatever to do with linguistic references. The experience of music, before it becomes objectified in the lower mind, is the alchemical process of spiritual energy acting on the soul to create change, and spiritual advancement.

Nevertheless, to create the experience of music, there must be a constant dialogue between the higher and lower mind, as the individual elements of the experience are combined and mixed like chemicals in a laboratory. This is where the conductor of a musical organization comes in. The conductor is, in a real sense, the medium of communication between the higher and lower mind of the group. In fact, the conductor is the grand central station through which are channeled the higher and lower minds of the composer, the players, the attending divine Angels (angels, guides, etc. ), the audience, and himself. At a certain point in the composition’s life, the composer was the window through which the light of God's truth shone down on the earth; however, when a piece gets to the performance stage, the conductor becomes this window through which are reflected all the complicated energies that go into the creation of a human social event. The truth of the piece must shine through the conductor into the hearts and minds of his players (choral conductor substitute singers for players), and his players’ truth must channel through him into the hearts and minds of the audience. Thus, mystery and change attend every step in the process of music making.

One of the exciting things about music is that: as unique as each human soul is, that is just how unique the experience of music is to each participant. This gives a richness and majesty to the light of God's truth as it glints through the many facets of his created beings. However, since the dualistic nature of man's physical existence creates opposites, certain aspects of man's physical vibration tend to get out of phase with each other and cancel each other out, thereby diminishing the experience for all. One of the conductor's most important jobs, therefore, is to focus all the little lights of the players into one great ray, with all its constituent aspects in phase with each other, to create the brightest possible light. This is an heroic act of courage, for to become such a lens, to withstand the onslaught of so much accumulated power, requires great strength and breadth of character.

It also requires humility, for only by sacrificing ego to the higher purposes of God’s manifested truth, are the energies of all the players maximized and synthesized. Too many conductors make the mistake of imposing narrow interpretive ideas on the players, causing them to restrain or repress their own God-given energy; this is a tragic loss, and is the bane of the orchestral player, and the orchestra itself.  The razor's edge the conductor must walk is that of finding a way to get more out of t
his players than they thought they were capable of, while getting them to contribute this energy to a selfless group energy. The magic of the conductor's contribution to the music-making process is in his creation of a group consciousness that synergistically transcends the sum of the individual consciousnesses. This is accomplished by lighting a fire in the players’ minds for a single truth, and getting them to work together toward manifesting that truth. 

The relationship of thought to feeling determines the character of the group identity. Feeling is the link between the lower objective mind (where literal meanings are stored and manipulated), and the higher subjective mind (where there becomes less and less distinction between thought and reality). The feelings expressed in music are the universal truths which make music understandable to all men; as such they have a constant or static, unvarying quality; but, as mentioned before, the interpretation of these feelings by the lower mind results in mental structures, thoughts or ideas, which are as various as the individual minds interpret and him. Thus, the conductor’s first step in creating artistic unity is to take a single feeling and objectify the residual thought patterns into terms which do not neutralize each other either by contradicting each other, or by causing repression of energy among the players.

One tragic flaw one tragic flaw that too often mars the education of serious music students is that: teachers tend to become aligned with one or another of a variety of interpretive thought patterns, and then pass on this alignment (prejudice) to the students, preaching it as the gospel. This dogmatic approach to music teaching is so sad because it teaches students to think of music as thoughts rather than the larger feelings behind the thoughts. Nothing is so tragi-comical as two musicians from different schools of thought trying to argue out their “po-tay-toes” and po-tah-toes”, and then finally (in the words of Ira Gershwin, “Let’s call the whole thing off”; this, when they might have, by focusing their attention on the larger issue of feeling, found the common ground of higher understanding. The conductor’s job is to find this higher ground, and convey the sense of it persuasively to his players. He was make them understand that no artistic aspect of musical interpretation (tempo, style, sound quality, etc.) are matters of choice, and that, just as there is feeling behind every thought, there is life, a legitimate reality, behind every choice; that, and creating unity, choices must be made that sometimes contradict one's training, but are not, therefore, to because considered wrong.

Indeed, the whole issue of right and wrong (which is a subject for a separate article, if not a book) can too often come between the player and his enjoyment of his task. There are so many small decisions to be made in shaping a piece, and there are so many different attitudes toward each one of them, that squabbles over the “right” way can cause divisiveness and estrangement among the players. The conductor neutralizes this tendency by becoming the final decision-maker, dictating which way all the players must do their job. He must impress on them that there is no “right” way, there are only “good” ways, and good comes from making the best of every situation, even if, on the surface, it goes against the grain. There is a sense in which every literal configuration of meanings can be true, and it is never difficult for an open mind to find truth in a statement that, in another light, may appear false. The selfless player must subdue the petty ego, expand his consciousness outward to embrace the unity of group consciousness  consciousness outward to embrace the unity of group consciousness, and join with the group consensus shaped by the conductor.

“Good” is everybody's best effort. “Good enough” is an expression that has nothing to do with GOOD. “Good enough” is an objective standard created at different times by different individuals, today by the recording industry, pointing the way toward a level or type of perfection which may very well be “good”, but may also be, instead, merely “ right”. Conductors striving for a level of “good enough” that sounds like somebody's record, but which is not inherent in the temperaments of the players in hand, does not maximize those players potentialities, but rather, dehumanizes them and makes them resent both “the good enough” they cannot achieve, and the conductor for wanting them to be something they are not. Now players are always capable of giving more from a broader push from a broader spectrum than they think they are, but people are also individuals and should not be asked to parrot back somebody else's sound or phrasing when they may have a legitimate weight of their own that, for the person rings truer than the “good enough” way. The conductor should seek to bring forth the good inherent in the players in hand, probing into each player’s soul for the best that player has to offer. Rather than imposing some objective standard on the group, the conductor should reveal the group's own subjective reality to itself. Let the didactic conductor be warned, mismatching ideals is a deadly game, bringing much heartache and disappointment for all; it is like the poor tourist we find weeping brokenhearted on the steps of the church because he did not find the Mona Lisa anywhere inside the Sistine Chapel.

How does the conductor bring out the best in his players? First, he must get their attention. People do not automatically walking rehearsal into a rehearsal revved up and on fire for the music; it is the conductor’s job to light the fire. Many conductors are so passionately in love with the music that they are shocked and insulted when the players do not immediately share this enthusiasm. Thus, emotional scenes and bitchiness ensue that have a tendency to awaken the lower minds of the players to concentration, but shut the doors to which spontaneous feeling must flow. The players become concerned with getting the conductor off their back, instead of finding the music. The annals of conducting are filled with tales of bitchy, even vicious conductors who were able to bring along unfocused players to a level of higher-than-normal intensity; but the price you pay for this kind of excellence is so dear, and it is so unnecessary to pay it.

There are many paths to higher consciousness; fear and grief are viable paths to higher levels, but they have a limited range of positive benefits; they also create a very unhealthy drop in energy when they wear off, so that a conductor may intimidate a group into performing one musical moment at a high vibratory rate, then pay for it with low vibration playing the rest of the night. Fear is a very unstable energy-it can cause things to go well, or it can cause things to get worse and worse. 

There is a story (true or mythical) of an orchestra rehearsal where a conductor publicly humiliated the principal flutist by making him practice a solo over and over in front of the whole group, meanwhile making rude comments about the flutist’s musicianship, intelligence, character, etc. That night of the concert, the flutist played the solo brilliantly, evoking s great smile from the conductor. Then the flutist rose from his chair, drew a gun from his vest, and shot the conductor. 

It is true that the conductor whose namby-pamby about giving direction, is not a good leader, and will not inspire respect or trust from his players; but it is also true that the great genius assholes of the art world, by any other name, are still assholes. The intensity achieved through impatience, arrogance, and intimidation is a shallow thing, and holds no promise for future growth. The apostle Paul points out that love, among other things, is long-suffering.

So how does a conductor get intensity from a cold group without yelling at them? A rehearsal is an intense thing, and must become intense immediately; but insulting the players’ ability, or denigrating their level of commitment (guilt tripping) only causes repression and contention. To get intensity from the players, the conductor must draw the players out, get them interested in the music for what it has to offer them, get all their minds focused on the concrete goal which feels and sounds good when it is achieved. Intensity comes from focus, focus comes from something to focus on. Thus, to literally objectify the goals, of the rehearsal, is the first task in beginning a rehearsal.

The word "objectify" is very important, especially since we have already spoken at length about the overriding importance of the “subjective reality " that a piece of music creates in the physical. The key to understanding is is to be found in the relationship of the objective meaning to the subjective state of being. For example, many times a conductor may desire a certain sound quality, or a certain style, which he hears clearly in his head, but not in the rehearsal room. He will begin to rhapsodize and poetic terms about the sound, describing it with onomatopoetic expressions. Most of the time this subjective treatment may mean something personal to the conductor, but usually relates personally to a small fraction of the players. Efforts to convey subjective realities through verbal means to those who did not already share the subjective reality higher-than-verbal level always fail. The players may try again, but since they have failed to understand, they fail to realize the conductor’s vision. More poetry, more failure, then insults, fits, frustration, anger, etc.

When describing the big picture (subjective content) fails to communicate the conductor's intentions, she should break the image down into smaller pieces. By breaking the subjective image down into pieces he is objectifying the image, reducing the high spiritual truth to a system of literal meanings which can be apprehended by the lower mind. Any sound or gesture can be so broken down; a crescendo, a ritard, a phrasing may consist of many discrete elements which can be rehearsed one at a time. This progressive building of an idea into a living gestalt can be grueling work, but a conductor should be man enough to teach his players, patiently, (no matter how good they are, or are supposed to be) what he wants down to the gnat’s eyebrow, because once a particular link is learned in a microscopic context, it is much easier for the players to extrapolate the information and transfer to other contexts. A conductor who can only generalize, and cannot explain what he wants in technical terms, this just an air beater. Even if his heart is full of enthusiasm, his mind alight with an inner vision, he must express enthusiasm and vision in terms that can be shared. To be sure, objective understanding is not the highest level of musical understanding; however it must be remembered that there is a vast chasm spread between normal consciousness and higher subjective consciousness, and objectivity is our only pathway to the divine. Objective insights act like little links in a suspension bridge, which, when completely assembled, allow subjective insight to flow across from the higher mind and light the lower mind with truth and power. The objective analysis of a spontaneous gesture may momentarily drain some of the life out of the gesture. As the gesture is dissected, a synergistic unity is destroyed; but when the pieces are put back together, the conductor will reap the rewards of patience and insight which our joy and accomplishment, rather than the rewards of impatience and pride which are disappointment and anger.

Now, the use of imagery in directing the players’ attention toward a subjective reality is not always as ineffective as the preceding arguments may have implied. To tell the horn player that his solo should sound like “the rising sun", can give him insights that telling him to “play louder” cannot. However, the conductor should not just mention the rising sun, he should mention getting louder as well. Intangible, poetic quality should always be objectified by including direction toward getting the players to do something.

The physicalization of emotional qualities is the most crucial creative leap in music-making. Through physicalization, the word is made flesh. The conductor physicalizes the music through his movement. In this sense, his movement becomes a poetic image of the music as much as his verbal instruction; however, unlike his verbal instruction, his movement was always attempt to look like what the players do (to their instruments) to make the music. The conductor should dance the music for the players, taking care that his gestures are directed toward inspiring the player to perform specific actions. Many conductors’ movements degenerate into indistinct flopping and waving which, again, contain only subjective meaning. The conductor should never, for an instant, lose sight of the responsibility of the players to make them play better. The music comes from the players, not the conductor; when this fact becomes confused in the conductor's mind, petty ego takes over, and there is a breakdown of energy for the group; but when he loses contact with the group, and dwells on his own emotional investment in the music, the flow is interrupted. Therefore, the most selfless act the conductor can perform is to stop listening to the music, and focus himself on leading the players through their parts, moment by moment, letting the audience listen to the music. The conductor can always listen to the tape

There is an aspect of imagery which is para-physical, but which is nevertheless an instruction from the conductor to the player to perform an act. This is the act of will demanding than normal consciousness reach up into higher realms for insight and power. Most of the time the conductor’s plea for concentration or intensity is merely a plea for the player to  consciously enter a paranormal mind state. We do it, we all know how it feels, but somehow, in a materialist culture, we have neglected developing techniques for consciously entering higher mind states; therefore, we must rely on chance, or gargoyle-like fits from the conductor, to scare us into the divine realms.

Actually, it is very easy to get a group to raise its own consciousness, but it does take courage—for certain materialist predispositions, which, unfortunately are ingrained social attitudes, must be dispensed with. 

1.The first step in this “dispensing process” is to adopt the assumption that: the human personality is not confined to the human body-that we all, as holistic entities, take up more space than just our bodies do. 
2. Thus,we must then realize that, by reaching out with our senses, we can encompass much more space than our bodies might tell us we can. 
3.Lastly, we must realize that we can share space with other people. 

This sharing space is crucial to developing a group and identity. The senses that are reaching out are not physical senses, and the space shared is not physical space; but the registration of this experience in lower consciousness is just like the physical sensation of touching, only it is somehow more intimate than touching because we can feel the presence of the other person or persons through and through. The subjective experience of sharing a group consciousness can provide more unity of feeling and expression in any other single technique. Through this technique, sounds are blended, differences are unified, and energies are compounded. A moment of silence before the downbeat (preferably with eyes closed) can do more for her performance than anything in the world.

Now the conductor must take up more "space" than anyone else. The conductor must surround the entire group with this personality. He must have more confidence than anyone else (for the concentration and strength to reach out so far is enormous), but he must also be more selfless than anyone else (because to disperse his ego so far, he must give himself up completely to divine influence, and, on conscious and subconscious psychic levels, convey direction too many people at once.

We may speak of imagery in this regard because mental imagery is the technique most commonly employed to bring these energies into manifestation. The conductor may imagine the group enveloped in a cloud of pink light, or he may imagine rays of white light coming out of the top of everyone's head, joining in the central vortex above the group. Whatever the visualization, it is important to realize that the visualization makes it real. One of physical eyes cannot see, our spiritual eyes can see very well. Thus, through an effort of will, the conductor can create a divine reality, and if he asks the players to join him in the effort, the effects become exponentially enhanced.

Music is divine reality manifested in the physical. The goodness of God is that singular impulse which binds us together. Oneness is the object of all human endeavor; as such, music holds a special place in human activities, being such a perfect link between lower and higher mind functions. The conductor, more than any other person involved in a musical performance, is responsible for creating an atmosphere in which oneness may be achieved. This is a weighty responsibility indeed, and can reap, for him, great spiritual rewards. It also load him down with tons of, Karma (sic) if he allows ego and pride to come between him and the music and the players. God can change the world through music, and since the conductor is the high priest in this ministry, he must be tireless in his efforts to make himself a more and more perfect open channel for divine inspiration.

Laus Dei

November 17, 1987

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