Rav Vast meets Guo Bass Flute

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In the last few years I have surrendered to the percussionist in me and have begun studying Afro Cuban, Brazilian, Flamenco and Mid Eastern world rhythms. Although the piece I am playing here is not from any particular style of traditional world music, I have discovered a process where playing with rhythm gives birth to melody. Along the way, I am discovering some very beautiful instruments and drums.

The Rav Vast is an idiophone based on the ancient tongue drums found in many cultures. “The steel tongue drum is actually based on the wooden slit drum. The slit drum seems to have developed independently with Aztecs, Africans, Indonesians and others cultures. It predates modern music by thousands of years. Slit drums were made from a hollowed log or bamboo and were struck with sticks. They were used for both ritual and communication and were tuned to two or more pitches. More refinement came when tongues of specific pitches were cut and the drum became known as the wooden tongue drum.” ( quote from “History of the Tongue Drum” ).

The Rav Vast (invented by Russian Engineer Andrey Remyannikov in 2013) is an application of this ancient tongue drum technique, using our modern tools to precisely cut through steel creating the tongues. It really has a magical celestial resonating tone. This instrument is similar to and sometimes confused with the hand pan or “hang drum” which does not have tongues to create the notes, but hammered out hand sized dimpled “tone fields” similar to Trinidadian Steel Drums. Both of these modern instruments create a magical sound that seem to reconnect us to our ancient roots.

The Guo Bass flute was created by Taiwanese Geoffrey Guo using an innovative composite material that is very light weight and has a beautiful “woody” tone. I love the sound of the bamboo Indian Bansuri , especially the lower toned flutes, but found that the distance between holes of the bass bansuri too spaced out for my fingers, so I started to look around for Bass Flutes and found this Guo Flute. Being based on the modern Boehm system, it also gives me the advantage of a full chromatic scale.

The experience I have when playing is very integrating. It is a process where I become aware of both a deep Silence within my consciousness, and at the same time be very focused and playful, dancing on the point value of rhythm and notes. It is like opening up to an ocean of silent unbounded consciousness within myself, but at the same time rising high with a very dynamic wave of curious pointed playfulness. Integrating two extremes of life, Silence and Dynamism.

The Vedic Science of Consciousness, and similar other ancient world teachings, provide a paradigm that describes this range of life, from Silence to Dynamism, and everything in between, as being reflected in not only our human experience of the creative process, but the dynamic functioning of the entire universe. Microcosm within the Macrocosm.

When I play, I get to open myself to this process , and witness the flow of this spontaneous inventiveness. I am continually amazed at watching this happen, and it is intimately delightful. Between the range of Silence and dynamism, there is a whole lot happening! All kinds of laws of Nature interacting in waves to create sound and form. Vedic Science refers to this playful dynamism as “impulses of creative intelligence”, or in the more ancient language , termed as “Devitas”

I have a few friends who have what might be called “celestial perception” , and can see these impulses of creative intelligence as geometry and form.

There is a phenomena some people experience called “Synesthesia” where music is actually seen in colors. When I’m playing, I don’t see any colors or forms, but I feel a dancing playfulness all around me. In creating this video I came across a motion graphics program that has a 3D particle feature that links shapes and color to respond to music. I thought it would be fun to use that feature on this video, to illustrate what I feel, and give an idea to what some people may see.

I have often wondered what that experience would be like. Perhaps my continual adoration of this process will charm the Devitas into revealing their true forms to me! 


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