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SXSW Music 2013

Mystical & Spiritual Ideas In Modern Music

John Coltrane once said: “My goal is to live the truly religious life, and express it in my music. If you live it, when you play there's no problem because the music is part of the whole thing. To be a musician is really something. It goes very, very deep. My music is the spiritual expression of what I am - my faith, my knowledge, my being.”

His desire for connecting his personal beliefs with his artistic process is an idea that has spanned through the ages.

By drawing inspiration from well-regarded mystics and philosophers, Mystical & Spiritual Ideas In Modern Music explores how creation is influenced when musicians have strong foundations in the metaphysical. Artists will share how spiritual beliefs affect musical creation and its end goals, how it supports transformation on individual and cultural levels, what role rituals and symbols play in art, and how to balance intent and intuition in the artistic process.

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  1. "The reality to which the mystic and the artist are exposed is, in fact, the same," asserts mythologist Joseph Campbell. "It is of their own inmost truth brought to consciousness: by the mystic, in direct confrontation, and by the artist, through reflection in the masterworks of his art." To what extent and in what ways do you feel that spiritual revelations can be attained through artistic channels? Do you find those revelations to be more rooted in experience or in reflection?
  2. Friedrich Nietzsche says that, "In song and in dance man expresses himself as a member of a higher community... supernatural sounds emanate from him... He is no longer an artist, he has become a work of art: in these paroxysms of intoxication the artistic power of all nature reveals itself." Does a sense of divine Dionysian “intoxication” influence your creative process? How do you balance patient intuition and pointed intention, or ego and divine inspiration, in a live or recorded setting?
  3. “Music is a gut thing,” says Siobhan Fahey of Banarama. “You're working in a medium which is more in touch with the primal than the modern. A gig is a ritual. There's a congregation.” What does it mean for you, in the context of the live show, to create "immersive" or "transcendent" performances? What types of symbolic imagery or rituals are manifest, and to what ends?
  4. A fundamental spiritual tenet is that of transforming inner worlds so that they align with outer worlds. In the words of philosopher Alan Watts, “The only thing you need to know to understand the deepest metaphysical secrets is this: that for every outside there is an inside and for every inside there is an outside, and although they are different, they go together.” Do you create your music with its transformative potential in mind? Is that potential of an individual or social nature?
  5. Psychologist Carl Jung relates art to his idea of the collective unconscious by saying, “As a human being the artist may have many moods and a will and personal aims, but as an artist he is ‘man’ in a higher sense – he is ‘collective man’ – one who carries and shapes the unconscious, psychic life of mankind.” Keeping in mind a spiritual or metaphysical agenda by which some artists create, how do you think these personal aims help shape society as a whole, if at all?



Vivian Hua, CEO/Editor-in-Chief, REDEFINE Media LLC

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  • Event: Music
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Other
  • Track 2
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