Special moments in Goa

Life continues to be a constant stream of absorbing happenings... There is always so much going on and I tend to be carried off by the currents much of the time. It is this part of my nature that allows for such rich experiences and constant surprises to occur, but sometimes months or years go by without my taking much time for reflection. Writing is a sweet way to catch up. It used to happen mostly through songwriting, but lately my compositions have been more melodic than lyrical, which means that the stories are passing through me without description.. remembered in feelings, expressed through the rise and fall of notes, wordless...

Those who have seen my performances over time, know that my musical and personal journey has been towards unity.. In taking a deeper look at culture, how it forms us, how it divides us, we can come to a place where we can honor and delight in our traditions without being bound by them, or separated by them. My personal experiences seem to be in contrast to the wild world around me though. I continue to learn in India, a place of deep rooted traditions and divisions, to experience the trend towards conservatism in Europe, and to observe the situation in the U.S. as the political climate becomes more fiercely protective of its comparatively new culture.  As a musician and performer from Canada, I have a way of seeing the world, of respecting culture but not identifying too closely with it. How could I? My father is from the East, my mother from the West, and myself, I am constantly between, and I don't need to choose. Both musics flow through me. As the world lately seems to be delving still deeper into politics and division, this position of mine feels more and more like a radical stance. Still, despite the outward influences, I feel a deep inner unity happening...

In Goa, there is an international music scene, this play of people who may or may not understand each other's musical phrasing, language, training or approach, but we share a love for the exploration. The performances are perhaps most powerful for the musicians as we see our assumptions and expectations of each other most clearly in the musical 'failures', which can create chaos and confusion and then lead to places no one could have imagined on their own. The key is to stay with it, to become aware of how each of us lives inside a set of codes, how even in our improvisations, we are bound by forms. Forms that are real inside our own heads, but mean nothing to a player from another tradition. How able are we to let go of the structures we know? The measures, the rhythms, the cycles, the talas the ragas, the words... How willing are we to say yes instead of no? To affirm another voice from another place and co-create the presentation?

From the audiences, there is an openness, as everyone becomes aware that anything can happen. I'm talking about the jams. The embryo stage of what we are calling these days, "fusion music". It takes time to find the center, to develop. It takes deep listening to each other and ourselves. It takes a lightness and a letting go. It can be absolutely magic. When we let go of what we wish would happen, or what we are trying to create, and allow the flow to happen. Allow ourselves to be truly present. Nothing exists outside of this note, this breath, this phrase... This is music. This happens when culture, training, desire and expectation are paused. This happens a lot in Goa. Thank you to all who have shared with me and taught me so much.


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