Thursday, October 9, 2014

FYI: Sound Healer Interview on the Cari Murphy Radio Show

I listened to Cari Murphy's interview with sound healer David Jesse Kennet

Includes healing allergies through sound healing!

And Cari Murphy's interview with musician Paul Luftenegger

Music that clears the Heart Chakra & more.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

In Conversation--Songs of Holy Toledo

Ana Alcaide (Photo in Google Images)
Where Swedish, Spanish and Jewish Cultures Meet 

In 2012, I discovered Sephardic (Jewish) songs of Toledo via Ana Alcaide, a Spanish traditional musician.  After watching Alcaide's stunning YouTube videos in which she plays the Swedish keyed fiddle (nyckelharpa) and sings Ladino (Spanish Jewish culture) songs, I thought of interviewing the musician for this blog.

I encourage anyone reading this to check out Ana Alcaide's videos on YouTube because you will learn a lot from this fascinating woman who bridges the scientific world with the musical one. 

I caught up with Ana via e-mail and I'm honored to include her on this blog of musical healers.

WME: How do your biology studies wed with your musical explorations? I ask this question because some musicians have taken music into the natural realm or have found musical aspiration from nature.

Ana Alcaide: Right! In fact, nature is one of my great sources of inspiration. As a biologist, I keep a the spirit of curiosity when I approach to music traditions. I always do some kind of ‘research’ on the traditional material I work through. For me is important to keep this part, even though  I take musical freedom afterwards.

WME: Did you have an interest in Sephardic songs prior to moving to Toledo or did you discover these songs and tradition in Toledo?

AA: Yes, it was the fact of living in Toledo what made me ‘encounter’ the Sephardic tradition. During many years I lived in the Jewish quarter of the city, and I could feel all this influence in the streets, in the stones, in the atmosphere around me. So I felt very attracted of knowing more about it. I mainly did it because of aesthetic reasons. For me, Sephardic music represents the beauty of simplicity.

WME: I love the concept of taking traditional music to the everyday person on the street. Was Toledo the first city where you played music on the streets? What inspired this idea?

AA: The first place in which I did it was Copenhagen, many years ago, with a group of friends. Toledo is a good place to play in the streets, because is full of charming and lovely corners in which you actually feel like playing there! Of course, I enjoy doing it. I like to share the music and open it to everybody, to ‘serve’ people doing what you can do. Personally is a very challenging experience. You have to ‘build up’ every single moment. What you get from the people reflects how you feel and what you are in that moment. I learn a lot from doing it, even though not always you feel in the right mood to do it.

WME: You mentioned in two interviews I've read that the Spanish government doesn't support Spanish traditional or folk music.  Is this a regional problem or does it involved the entire country?

AA: Well, I don´t like to generalize. I also feel grateful to all the support I receive. I would say that as an artist, it´s hard to get support because there are not many open vĂ­as to do it. Specially, in the recent years the situation has become harder.

WME: I ask this question because as a music journalist, I have received Spanish folk recordings from Galicia and the Catalan region that have cultural organizations supporting them. Galicia has a strong folk music community with record labels and music festivals featuring folk traditions.  I can even begin to tell you the number of Spanish folk recordings sent to me over the years, granted it pales in comparison to the pop music industry, but I'm still impressed.

AA: I consider that Galicia, Catalunya, also Basque Country, support their traditions in a more committed way. As they feel to have their own cultural identity, they want to emphasize it. So all cultural expressions emphasizing their particular identity is much supported, if you compare it to what is done in other regions of Spain (of course, this is a general feeling, I don´t want to generalize).

WME: I am interested in your connection to Mexico. What types of music traditions did you discover in Mexico during your time there? Did you fall in love with any of the Mexican traditional instruments, mainly lutes and harps?

AA: Well, my connection with Mexico is more personal than musical. I was studying Biology in Baja California for some months with a scholarship, and later I visited the country for personal motivations. I feel deeply attracted to their culture, and the connection was immediate, who knows why? Of course I also enjoy it musically, the country is huge and they have so many different traditions reflecting the spirit of the people. I really like their vital happiness, and the way they understand and celebrate life and death.

WME: You recorded a tragic song, The Bitter Well which features a relationship between a Jewish girl and a Christian boy.  It reminds of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet where two rival families destroy the love of a young couple through their prejudices.  This song is healing in that it provides a moral tale of the destruction of prejudices.  What inspired you to compose a song based on this tragic story?

AA: In my last album I wanted to introduce a legend related to the sephardic people, so I decided chose this one. It represents what you mention and it´s actually one of the most well known legends of Toledo… perhaps because it´s so dramatic? People like that! I also chose it because the bitter well is a real place which you can actually pass through, it which gives name to a Street of Toledo –you can find the place along the Street. It´s also very close to one of my favourites spots to play in Toledo, very near the catedral, so it also have a personal meaning to me.

WME: When you composed the music did you already hear the musical arrangement that appears on the album, La Cantiga Del Fuego?

AA: Not in all of the songs. I mostly ‘listen’ the atmosphere I want to create with each song. Even though the arrangements were clear, in some points it was open to the musicians who collaborated -specially percussions- So there are parts and sounds that were not exactly ‘planned’ like that. It was a very good working experience with a big team of great musicians!


Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Practice--Purposeful Music for Creativity & Artistic Pursuits

Mural at Boulevard Park, Bellingham, Washington

Perhaps I take for granted my multimedia approach to artistic projects.  Art involves all the senses, even the 6th sense to such a degree that it seems foolish not to play music in the foreground or background when in the throes of making art.

For instance, some writers prefer silence or the birds in trees or wind flowing through an open window while other writers play their favorite music to get them into the flow.  So let's look at the musical benefits for writers, both fiction and non-fiction.

As we know music creates flow and works different parts of our brain with some music bridging the gap between the left and right hemispheres. For writers who are also musicians, taking a music break.  Playing an instrument or singing enhances our creative problem-solving abilities while engaging us deeper into the flow.  Certain types of music also uplift us, put us in a good mood, and help us to release doubts, worries, fear and anxiety.  I recommend sound healing, especially Reiki healing videos you can find on YouTube.

Writers and I would imagine, all artists benefit from using brainwave enhancing CDs.  These recordings feature Alpha, Beta, Theta and Delta brainwaves, but use the brainwave recording that keeps you alert and focused as opposed to tempting you to take a snooze early in the day.  Check out the label Sounds True for these types of recordings.

Music helps us to create movies or flowing images in our minds. If we are writing flowing literary fiction for instance, then listening to classical or melodic music that moves at a slow to medium pace works best.  People who write action-packed novels would do better to listen to faster paced music.  Also match the music with the setting and personality of the characters in your stories.  I select pieces of music as themes or motifs because my novels and short fiction run like movies in my head and there are few movies without musical soundtracks.  The music also keeps me awake when I feel exhausted and don't feel like writing.  In this regard, I use music to keep me motivated and on track.

Painters, sculptors and other designers benefits from playing music in the background too.  I don't think I've ever visited an artist studio where music of some kind or another wasn't playing in the background.  Some artists use the music as motivation or as a way to create rhythm and tone in their work.  Since music also is made up frequencies and vibrations, the artwork exposed to music absorbs those energies, in the same way that Dr. Masaru Emoto's water absorbed musical vibration from musical recordings.  And if the patrons are sensitive types, they pick up on the musical vibes in the artwork on a subtle level.

Since art involves reflective and active periods, listening to music also enhances the imagination or daydreaming stages that occur before we manifest our work in the world. Music helps make the intangible tangible by revving up our imaginations and recharging our passion to create something new.  Music inspires us and sometimes the themes of the music creates the art.

Of course we know that music plays a huge role in the performing arts, but music enhances the creative process period whether we're designing a new line of clothing, cuisine, a new living space, or woodworking.  However, having said that, watch out for and eliminate the following:

  • Music that distracts 
  • Music that depresses or causes anxiety
  • Music that takes over the senses 
  • Music that puts us to sleep
  • Music that jars the senses and leaves us feeling hyperactive 
  • Music that feels like a drug

The key is to use music to enhance the artistic experience and not to show off musical tastes.  Exploring different types of music also enhances the artistic experience because this process opens our minds and our hearts.  When we open our hearts with music, everything flows, including prosperity into our bank accounts and patrons for our work.  Try it.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

21st Century Musical Healer--Cedar Songs

Peter Ali
On the Solstice, I felt exhausted, but I wanted to check out the Fairhaven District Art Walk.  So I dragged myself by bus to the event.  When I stepped into Village Books, I heard Peter Ali talking about his introduction to Native American and other traditional flutes.

While I was only planning on staying for one or two songs (since I wanted to see as much art as possible), I ended up staying much longer.  I found Peter engaging as he shared stories about his life experiences in relationship to his flute.  One of those stories involved performing for the 14th Dalai Lama and another story revolved around surviving cancer and its brutal chemo treatment.

However on that particular evening, I felt drawn to the soothing qualities of Indigenous flutes and Peter's healing stories that went along with his improvised songs. Coming from mixed heritage, Peter could call himself a true world citizen and one with a healing heart.  So let's celebrate another 21st Century Musical Healer.

Whole Music Exp: You had mentioned that a loss (divorce) brought the Native American flute into your life and that the flute brought healing to you. Will you describe briefly this experience of the flute bringing you healing and how the flute came to you at the right time? 

Peter Ali: The hurting of going through a divorce was being separated from my kid and not understanding why my then wife refused counseling. I was extremely stressed from also working fewer hours due to lack of work and having no family in this State to reach out to. The Native flute came into my life just in time on a summer day during an annual art festival in Poulsbo. I could hear the sound of the Native flute being played and I was drawn to the vendor booth that was selling them, hence meeting the Stewart family/Stellar flutes. 

WME: Please tell me the story of how you discovered additional healing powers of your flutes when you were undergoing chemotherapy and that you now play flute for cancer patients to bring them stress relief. 

PA: Prior to being diagnosed with cancer I played the flute as way to connect with my ancestors and create community (I and an old girl friend hosted several Native flute circles at one time). I found that playing the flute had a calming effect and that sometimes I could tune out everything else. The idea of playing while undergoing chemo was my way of calming everyone else around me in the infusion area, including patients, staff and me. Cancer changed my outlook on life to where I feel everyday is a blessing. I'm glad that I get to stick around so I give back by sometimes just dropping by the cancer center where I was treated and play a few songs to encourage the patients to stay positive and that they will be okay through all this. 

WME: You teach students Native American flute and when you give presentations you include history and other information about each of your unique flutes. Do you ever feel like you are an ambassador of traditional flutes? 

PA: Yes, I totally feel like an ambassador as you mention. I'm glad for my mixed ancestry and it allows me to share who I am, having parents from different countries, languages, belief systems, etc.  I have played in many spiritual communities. Playing for the Dalai Lama (Seeds of Compassion Tour) has been the highlight of my short career, next to playing for cancer patients, tribes, multicultural events, foster Native youth programs and.....just sometimes giving a flute to someone who is hurting. 

WME: Finally, how has your unique heritage brought the flutes into your life? And it seems that the flutes have also led you back to your deeper roots too. 

PA: Somehow, I'd been playing flute for some time and not knowing that flute playing was in my blood as it came very natural to me having no musical past really. (I did take trumpet in grade school but dropped out as I found having to read music was frustrating). 

Imagine the surprise when I learned from my father after I played a song for him on my Native flute when he told me, "Your grandfather was a flute player, he played at weddings and ceremonies." So I asked him why didn't you tell me this when I was young? His answer was, "I didn't think it was important." Now when I'm doing my presentations especially with tribal youth I tell them how important it is to ask questions, such as, “Who am I?” 

In closing, the Native American flute as well as, the Middle Eastern and Norwegian flute I play, brings me peace in many ways. It helps me connect to people from all walks and paths of life, it keeps me humble and grounded, it creates community and it is how I meditate. It’s how I pray and talk to the ancestors. 

Find Peter on Face Book:

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Practice--Song Manifestations

One question we hear a lot from metaphysical teachers comes up, "do you like what you experience in your world?" And I would add, "do you like what you hear in your world?"  Do you believe strongly in the lyrics of your favorite songs or even your least favorite songs? And be honest, what type of reality are your favorite songs creating for you to experience?

Now, I'm not going to label experiences as negative or positive. I'll let you decide.  What I will ask is this, what pleases you more, living a life of drama or one of joy? Again, you decide.  But maybe you don't believe a life of joy is possible or maybe you tossed out your dreams in favor of fitting into the status quo and not rocking the proverbial boat.  A small life seems comfortable on the surface and only requires a knack of putting up with situations, people, and events.

What if I told you that the songs we listen to provide mantras in our lives? And what if I told you that we walk around in an altered state, often in a dreamy state with a slower brainwave so we absorb and digest those song mantras into our life experiences? And if this is true, which I believe it is from my experiences, then why do some of us listen to break up instead of love songs? Why do some of us listen intently to protests songs (not saying that doing this once in a while leads to negative states)? Why do we listen to songs with hateful or vengeful lyrics? Though I doubt anyone reading this post fits that description.

Songs have the power to manifest our dreams and our nightmares.  And we control the tuning dial based on the choices we make on an unconscious and conscious level. I launched this blog to spread consciousness around sound vibrations and music. I wrote a book for the same purpose.  I did this because I've noticed that we have no problem jumping on board the quantum physics and Law of Attraction trains, but we do face challenges deleting songs from our lives that don't serve our desires and wishes.  We do this because of sentimental and nostalgic reasons.  We do this for the same reason we crave food with fat, salt and sugar, because it goes down nicely, but then digestion problems occur. 

But if we're honest, we would choose songs with lyrics that bring us life-affirming mantras.  This list includes Disney tunes like "When We Wish Upon a Star," as well as jazz classics such as Louis Armstong's "What a Wonderful World."  I mentioned American soul music from the 1960s through the 1980s that provide mantras for love, spiritual awakening, and setting boundaries in our lives as we honor ourselves.

So if someone wants to attract love and romance in their lives, listen to songs with loving lyrics, and not breakup songs.  As much as I enjoy Carole King's "Too Late," for its chordal progressions and sentiments, this song won't attract love into my life in the way I would like to experience it.  However, Carole King's "I Feel the Earth Move" will attract what I desire. 

If someone wants to attract their wishes such as wealth, prosperity, a new home, or a vacation, then wishing upon a star might do the trick.  If someone wants to feel at one with the world or feel joy, then head over to the Louis Armstrong classic, not to mention countless jazz classics.  Why not listen to George Gershwin's show tunes or his jazz-classical Rhapsody in Blue which has upward moving scales that uplift us?

However, if what you desire is to get in touch with your shadow or what's lurking in your subconscious that keeps you stuck, listen for song motifs or lyrics that stick with you.  Then use some sort of access or clearing tool to release those stuck emotions and integrate your shadow.  I recommend spiritual teachers such as Rikka Zimmerman and Cari Murphy to help you with this process.  Emotional Freedom Technique also works for some people as far as a clearing tool.

So take stock of the type of songs that attract your attention and ask yourself if those song lyrics create your reality? Do those song lyrics cause limited and fearful thinking? Do those song lyrics lead to feelings of self-righteousness or dualistic thinking? Do those songs lyrics bring you hope, faith and a sense of peace? Some people listen to songs for the same reason that they read thrillers or adventure novels to experience an adrenaline rush.  However, consider that every time we engage in fight or flight experiences, we release cortisol in our body which leads to inflammatory diseases.  While the diet and nutrition industry gazes deeply at how food leads to disease, musical vibrations attached to word vibrations I would argue also leads to dis-ease experiences.

In the end, I won't choose your musical menu for you.  I make tons of suggestions on this blog for anyone who chooses to read the hundreds of CDs reviews or browse through interviews and articles.  Sadly, traffic to Whole Music Experience has declined over the last year and this saddens me not because I want anyone to stroke my ego, but because I channel this important information to bring healing to the planet.  If the message goes unnoticed, then what type of healing takes place?

Of course, for anyone who seeks spiritual transcendence, stick with the sacred chants from whatever practice.  Kirtans, toning, Gregorian Chant and Buddhist chants have spiritual power no matter our personal beliefs.  Just being around these chants has a purifying effect that sends us in the right direction.

If you find any of this information useful, please forward to friends, post links on your social media or blogs.  Thank you for helping me to deliver my musical messages.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Practice--Indulge Your Soul with Music

Wikipedia Soulful lions
Often we feel empty and we look to food to satisfy our craving or we escape into another type of addiction. Sometimes we feel disconnected from the life around us or we lose our connection to our Divine Source, whatever name you want to call it.  During those times, I recommend indulging in soul music, a term that came about in the 1960s or 1970s that categorized songs of African-American musicians.

Roots for soul music vary going all the way back to the Mandinka and other ancient African kingdoms or most recently to the African-American Church or "Black Church" while finding inspiration from African-American spirituals, blues, jazz, and gospel (not be confused with spirituals).  Some of the favorite artists to come from the genre include Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Earth Wind and Fire, the Commodors, Bill Withers... The songs reached deep into our souls allowing us to feel an array of emotions from defiance, sensuality, spirituality, sadness, and joy.  With soul music we feel our emotions more deeply, which has led to the popularity of this genre.  Many young people listen to the soul music classics from the 1960s through 1980s when the genre all but disappeared or transformed into syrupy pop music dripping with sentimentality.

So let's dig some deep soulful songs.  I'm including some of my favorites here and if you have trouble watching these YouTube videos, check out your local library for the entire albums by these artists.

The first two songs remind us that no matter how hard life seems, there is sunshine behind the clouds and soon we'll find our way back into the light.

Johnny Nash, "I Can See Clearly Now"

Many people enjoy soul music as a route to seduction and often this type of music played in the background of bedrooms or a candle light dinner.


Soul songs also found their way into Civil Rights situations or provide an act of defiance

Finally, soul music helps us get in touch with our spiritual destiny 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Practice--Music and Memory

By Patricia Herlevi
Every song we've ever heard has a memory or memories attached to it.  Some songs remind us of first loves, choosing a partner to dance with at a middle school sock hop, or college graduation.  Some songs remind us of weddings we attended or scenes from favorite movies, while other songs cause our hearts to ache with the memories that surface.

As to be expected, we gravitate towards songs with happier memories or that relax us some way or lull us into daydreams.  But, the songs with painful memories attached claim treasures too.  In fact, they act as a treasure map to our wounded places where we shed new light if we choose.  When we head over to these wounds, we give ourselves the opportunity to clear away old beliefs, patterns and the root of grief and depression.  Perhaps, these songs lead us to the releasing of repressed anger or sadness.

I recommend working with a music therapist when dealing with deep wounds or deeply repressed emotions.  In the meantime, we can listen for the songs that trigger those painful, even tragic memories.  Listen for these songs when they come on the radio or online while we work at our computer.  Listen for these songs playing on movie soundtracks or listen for topics in songs that relate to your wounds.

For instance, anyone enduring a divorce or romantic breakup would do well to listen to ballads by Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder or Carole King.  In fact, Carole King wrote the most powerful healing from a breakup song of all, "It's too Late".

Another way to work with music and memories is to find a particular album that reflects back to a period in our lives.  For me, Astor Piazzolla's Zero Hour comes to mind.  I recall listening to this album in my early thirties when I lived in Seattle's Queen Anne District and I was beginning my journey into world music.

So I listen to this album and write down any memories, emotions, thoughts or physical sensations that come up in my journal or music diary.  I ask myself the following questions:

1) Who does this album remind me of?

2) What events occurred around the time I discovered this album?

3) What successes and failures did I experience during that time?

4) What were my hopes and dreams? Looking back did I manifest any of them?

5) How did the music initially affect me emotionally and physically?

6) Are there any issues that requires healing coming up when I listen to this album?


Finally, what feelings come up for you when you hear this famous album?