December 22, 2009 A different kind of musical experience [Pharoah Sanders]
“Pharoah is a man of large spiritual reservoir, always trying to reach out to truth. He’s trying to allow his spiritual self to be his guide. He’s dealing, among other things, in energy, in integrity, in essences.” – John Coltrane
It’s funny to look at the progression of music in popular culture. A unifying factor in most pop music is that it’s listenable – not like “easy listening” per se, but it can be groovy or sad but is usually very tonal, pleasing to the ear, and doesn’t require effort to listen to. Music, especially in America, has continued toward this sense of unreal perfection. We have replaced instruments with computers, and in the most recent auto-tune trend, we have replaced voices with them too.
The music snob in me would say that yes, super pop music (… miley cyrus anyone?) isn’t in a great place. The realist in me listens to radio hits and enjoys them for what they are; they’re ultra-perfect sounding! But there is definitely a large piece of humanity that is lost in making everything so perfectly in time and perfectly in tune… it becomes disturbingly robotic and loses emotion. Do catchy pop hits make you feel something powerful?
I’m not here to say that any music is less valuable than any other music. I’m just here to show you a different musical world from what we hear on the radio / in clubs / in mainstream society today.
Enter Pharoah Sanders. The polar opposite of the previously mentioned ideas. I won’t say much except he’s out there. In music and most other forms of creative expression, the best art comes from people who are fucking nuts.
Enter the song “The Creator Has A Master Plan”. My suggestion for listening is to listen to it on a nice stereo system or nice headphones, away from distractions, and to just let yourself be immersed by its raw, powerful beauty (and extreme dissonance in some spots). I could say things about how it relates to God and creation and destruction and chaos, but why do it when the music speaks for itself?
Let it be like meditation, and try to listen to it in low light / the dark. It’s worth the 32 minutes, 47 seconds, I promise – I’ve listened through it a bunch of times. Let me know how it makes you feel!