Thomas Vàczy Hightower
There is a saying: “Show me
your book collection and I will tell you who you are.”
Instead, I will confess what kind of music I prefer to listen to, and you may then have an idea of who I am.
the case of modern classical music, I prefer Bela Bartók to
Schönberg. My favorite composer is Ravel. Late classicism, such
as Brahms, is not my cup of tea!
I choose Baroque music rather than Viennese classicism; Händel rather than J.S.Bach.
Among Renaissance composers I prefer Palestrina to Monteverdi.
In my later years, I noticed in myself a certain fatigue in listening to classical music. It had nothing to do with the quality of performance, so I could not quite figure it out until I heard a radio discussion about classical music, where someone characterized our recording technology as a curse for living music by its massive repetition of the old repertoire: a “living museum” where contemporary music is performed as an obligation.
Maybe the contemporary music is too
intellectua? There is too much brain and too little body and heart!
Actually, the same can be said about Jazz. In my early days Jazz and Swing were my favorites; Duke Ellington and friends, for example.
When Jazz began to be intellectual and removed itself from the dancing floor, it lost its vitality and drive and became ego-centered.
I find a special joy in Folk music,
especially Celtic music (and its modern form, e.g. as in Scotsman
Andy Stewart’s music), though Folk music from any part of the
world (World music) can capture my heart for its genuine expression
of real emotions.
Lately I have been uplifted by the pure and intense emotions in religious music, especially Jewish sacred music with its strange mix of mourning and elation. Throughout the long tradition, I find Jewish music extraordinarily present and vital.
For dancing Reggae is my rhythm, especially The Inner Circle.
Concerning entertainment, I prefer Bobby Darin for Frank Sinatra or the other “rat pack” guys.
When we come to Rock & Roll and Beat
music, I do not agree with Niel Young's words, that rock & roll
will never die. Fame & money did the kill! I do not think that
fame & money are bad as such. As a rule of thumb: art is created
for those who have the money. It is a painful fact. But think about
it - and hear the advertising sound track!
However, it is unwholesome for the musician when fame and money are the prime reason for presenting music. Unfortunately, so much “music” is permeated with the ego of the musician, who just wants to show off.
So it may come as no surprise that the Irish van Morrison is one of my favorites. He shows his struggle with his ego, when he “eats his humble pie”.
An example of a proper attitude in performing music is the famous opera singer Luciano Pavarotti. When he has finished a marvelous aria, one can see how in humble joy he expresses his gratitude to a higher force – his creator or muse – for being able to perform. His gesture demonstrates his understanding of his role; he knows that he is “only” an instrument, a tool for the music that is much bigger than himself.
A classical example is Beatles verses Rolling Stones – joy verses power!
It may disturb some, that I am dead tired of Bob Dylan! I find Leonard Cohen much more clean and comfortable to be in company with. The same applies to Simon & Garfunkel, who are the returning choice to be played over the years. Poul Simon is simply a fabulous in the art of creating balance between text, melody and rhythm.
Another guy who has followed me most of
my adult life is “the man in black”. I consider Johnny
Cash a fine example of presence and
Strange enough, I have first recently got to know his friend, Roy Orbison, who was a pioneer in the “thing”, later called Rock & Roll .
What an angelic voice Orbison had, what a genius in song writing and composing. How can his (nearly 4 octaves range voice) carry so much emotion and intensity? He just stood still as a rock on the stage, hardly moving his lips, the eyes covered with big dark glasses, and filled the whole room with timeless music.
An opposite to Roy Orbison is the French sing-a-song writer, Jacques Brel. He was an explosion of sound, movement and gesture. He could visualize the song in a combination of voice and body.
For me is the key point in music the
intent behind the music; the underlying
emotion in the sound, that reflects the real being
of the musician(s). The real sound does not come out of the
studio/the producer, but out of the musician,.
to reveal that I am neither a musician nor an academic scholar in
musical theories. I graduated from a Danish high school in 1962 and
worked in the film industry for 12 years, the last five years as a
freelance movie director and TV producer. Due to family
responsibilities, I gave up the unreliable film business and took
steady work as a nurse.
I am half Hungarian / half Danish, married to an American (where the Hightower name comes from). Most of my life I have lived in Denmark, except for a half-year stay in Australia.
My writings are purely an outcome of my own studies of acoustic and music for the last 2 decades. My interest in the Musical Octave stems from decades of study in a school of the Ouspensky/Collin tradition.
My writings can neither lay claim to having scientific value nor be viewed as an academic treatise. They are more like essays.
Concerning the origin of my web pages: The Creation of Musical Scales and The Sound of Silence are written entirely by me with references stated either in the text or in the reference list. So are the others except the web pages, The One Voice Chord and The Power of Harmonics. They should be considered as notes. They contain many long quotes from mentioned sources, collated and edited by me, and so they are not the real product of my hand, but notes for background information.
My attempt to juggle with scientific data by viewing them in the light of spirituality and consciousness is risky. Such a blend can easily tend to pseudo-scientific phraseology – or worse, to cheap, pseudo-religious commonplaces.
I am therefore
anxious to emphasize that my writings have nothing to do with
religion or faith,
which is an entirely different category of the human mind. The
attempt to blend science and religion is odious and is not my intent!
In the last century we witnessed several idealistic theories, (fascism /communism), which were canonized to taken the place of religion, and with catastrophic outcome.!!!
In the 21st Century, endorsed especially by fundamental Christians in the USA, a new subspecies is trying to force its way into the educational systems. It is called Intelligent Design. It is intended as a counter to Charles Darwin's evolution theory, but is not sustained by proper scientific method. It is an attempt to brush up the myth of Creation as a “scientific” theory; but I do not understand why religion and myths should be disguised – unless a hidden agenda is at work?
However, we should not forget how the
development of modern science started in the late Renaissance: It was
founded as a method to study and understand God’s
Writing about the metaphysical properties of music and sound is a risky business. I advise keeping to sound common sense, as I have tried to do.
Thomas Váczy Hightower,