Yoshizen's Blog

Bach — Bernstein — Gould — Zen

Oh my Goodness.    I bumped this old film clip, on Youtube = Leonard Bernstein and Glenn Gould talked about J.S.Bach.
Film was shot on 57 years ago, 1960 then Glenn Gould was 28.   Naturally the film showed the two’s younger looks but what surprised me most was, on that time Bernstein was already “the Educator Bernstein” and Gould was “the Only one, Gould”.

(Other nearby Youtube posts, Gould or Bernstein posts are very educative and highly recommended to watch !)
In fact, me to encounter Bach first time was in the Fellini’s film, “La Dolce Vita” —– in the film, a gossip journalist, Marcello met a church organist and the organist played Bach’s music, Toccata and Fugue in D-miner (the most famous and popular organ music — famous still it was the first encounter to my 15-years-old ear)   (incidentally, that the same actor who played the organist later appeared in the other film “Emanuel” as a sex-gulu ! )

I think, it was the early 90s, I listened a BBC annual radio 3 event, the Christmas Lecture, Bernstein talked about the structure and the music language.  It opened my eyes. —– in fact, it taught me more about our emotion than of the music. —– If the music could expect the same effect, it is the proof of that our emotional pattern is much simpler = such as how we feel from major or minor key, even B-miner is associated with the feeling of death ! — how accurate his view was the other matter, but such a view-point to analyze the relation of us to the music was a shock to me. 

So that, that was the same stance, how and why I adapted my view toward the Zen = instead to see it as a holly spiritual mumbo-jumbo but the scientific / medical phenomenon of the neuro-physical function.

Amazingly looks ordinary young man, Gould was already a master of the finger of a Harpsichordist and already know what is the Bach = mean what he is going to do with him = the man aware of his own karma.  (People became aware of their own karma on their later life —– I wonder how he found it in such early life ?)

***** PS:   Related post (following links)  J.S.Bach,  Aaaaaa~~~~~!  are highly recommended post to go. (They clearly explain what I said here.)


Aaaaaa~~~~~ !

It’s just a simple experiment.   Try, say Aaaaaaa~~~~~ !

Starting low voice. Aaaaaaa~~~~~~ !

And somewhere in the middle. Aaaaaaa~~~~~~ !

Then in highest pitch. Aaaaaaa~~~~~~ !


It’s a same Aaaa  though, in its low tone it’s sound like you are shouting fed-up or expressing disgust.

In the middle, it is somewhat responding to others or communicating that you agree or you got it.

But when it sound in very high tone, it became your cry, not necessary to others, but

to yourself.

When it sound very low-frequency you must be noticed, your bottom of lung, stomach resonates.

And in high tone, it resonates to your base of the skull where your Limbic system of the

brain is situated, and the Hypo-campus, Old cortex immediately above.


Whether, because when we cry we cry in hi-pitch tone (tension in the body squeeze even the throat and

the voice box, then the voice become hi-tone —-> then we were conditioned to the situation,

or more inherent program in the primitive brain system ? (genetically programmed) —-> we cry hi-tone,

—– we may not know which came first.

Still, when those primitive part of the brain resonates, we feel the chill in our spine too. —-> we feel Awe.

(I’ve wrote about this, in a post [Spiritual Sound] too)


When we saw a danger, we feel Fear. Feel the same but not know why or which is the cause, we feel Awe.

Hence the sound which resonates the old part of brain / limbic system, Hypo-campus

where the emotion were created, —– yet don’t know where or why it’s coming, we feel Awe.

And this induced Awe is the basis of our spirituality.

With highly trained ( highly conditioned with many on-the-spot experiences / raw experience exposes

one’s perception, hence directly connected to the emotion.

Study deals with intelligence but Conditioning involves the emotion / emotion mean, it’s induces

physiological chemical effect / hormone, brain transmitter etc ) highly studied brain can associate

intellectual information to the experience which carry emotion —-> hence pure intellectual notion can

also be associated with Awe / Spirituality.


It’s a bad tendency, when people talk about spirituality, they pretend to be higher than others and noble

though, everybody having the spirituality —– the resonance to receive unknown message.

To interpret it to a known category or what so ever kind is related to what the person already know.


So, this is the most unlikely sample of the spiritual sound 😀

I’ve listened a live performance of this, once at the Saint Martin in the Field church and at many

churches in Germany, still this one is  [impressive enough for me to shed a tear] .

Unlike acoustic sound, synthesized sound having exactly the same frequency in each tone, often even

the same wave form, hence it creates unnatural resonance, even worse, resonating with

the speaker-system in a lap-top —– some time it’s irritating to the ears. ( Don’t ask too much)

A German guy commented to this “as a German, we never attempt to do, though I like this”

it’s showed how great the original music of the Bach.

( Its abstractic sound structure can withstand any instrument or the style of play.)

( In comparison, a sound like in the Beethoven’s Pastoral, birds songs has to be played by a Piccolo

—— Romantic School Music are sound effect in a Cartoon comics, hence  likely sound is the matter.)

—– while walking on the street, once I was stricken by a distant sound of this music.

Despite  there was a lot of street noise or rather distorted faint sound ——  quality or settings were not

the matter at all —— what there beyond the sound, was enough for me to feel a chill on my back.

The firm faith,  Awe to unknown is what Spirituality mean.


Sound of BACH

One of the reader left a comment, ” the post should have more media ” —– Yes, I’m well aware of it.

And the post shouldn’t be longer than 140 words otherwise no one would read  😀

In fact I got many plan to put a photo or video image into the post, such as ” I should put my Ancient Yoga

dancing video image into  Most Bizarre Story in Zen :-D”  or a photo of frosted leaves

into  Cold Blow — ( I’ve seen the frost in the night ) but  when I went to the same place next day,

frost wasn’t there. 😀 It’s a bad tendency of ex-photographer, don’t want to settle with casual photo or

somebody else’s photo found in the Net.  😉

Anyhow,  while searching a music sample to talk about with my friend,  I stumbled a Youtube

image which I should have put into my BACH post —— ;

This is a part of J.S.Bach’s  Art of Fugue which I’ve talked about, but not from the beginning yet still

it may give some idea.  This musician / programmer, SMALIN having 200 or more music videos there.

And I found his graphical representation of the music is very effective as we can see the structure

of it in one glance.  Especially, the graphical patterns are much easier to distinguish than hear in sound.

To make the image,  may be the Midi cord is directly triggering the position and the length of each note,

therefore it is rather simple but very clear.  Same tonal information is in the music score, graphically

though, I found this is the simplest and more effective demonstration.


Then what I found the next to above clip was —— jaw dropping funny music video.

As a matter of fact this (yet another ) Japanese phenomena [ Miku Hatsune ] was totally new to me

until only few weeks ago.  This music animation program was created by YAMAHA as an open-source.

Anybody input the phonetic note, it will be played in synthesized voice, and the character Miku Hatsune

will sing as the user programmed, so that, anybody can produce a music anime of female singer, free.

There said to be half million Miku Hatsune video clip in the Net. ( search them, if you are interested in )

——- In 60~70th, there were two memorable musicians played BACH in new sounds.

One was the Swingle Singers. They played Bach’s polyphonic music purely by a jazz scat like voices.

And another was a French pianist Jacque Lucie and he played or improvised  Bach in Jazz.

Both sound are still in the bottom of my music memories, alongside the more traditional classic musician,

Jazz musician and they formed the music culture of my life.

Between Jazz and Baroque music, there is a common character of the improvisation —– spontaneous

on the spot creation.

Very interesting fact is, when musician is improvising the phrase, frontal lobe of the brain

became inactive. Frontal robe is the place, where rational thinking or process of causation is taking place.

This is the exact parallel to the Buddhism teaching  Mushin. To be creative, don’t think.

Open mind mean, don’t impose a preconceived idea or judgement —– or Thinking.

You may wonder, ” Without knowing the passage, how musician can improvise ?  With the intelligence

shut down, how musician can control music making ?” —— may be you are not a musician.  That’s why

you ask this question.  If you still need to think about This Music, you can not improvise it on the spot.

When you became This Music or This Music became You, and you can play it without reading score,

without thinking —– then you can improvise it in total freedom.  Zen Buddhism call it Ichijo / Oneness.

So, with open mind, see and listen this  BACH sang by  Miku Hatsune —– It’s not too bad 😀  Ha ha ha.

Did you enjoyed ?  Or is it gone too far you think ?

Some irritating noise and instability of the sound there, still, considering it was created by an ordinary

person, using freely available open source, —— it is pretty impressive.  I like it. Thanks to the creator.



Freedom — Restriction ?

Posted in Awareness, Buddhism, Music, Natural Harmony, Subconsciousness, Zen by yoshizen on January 27, 2010

Freedom under the strict restriction —– people may feel it is the contradiction.

Because they are thinking it in the word / notion but didn’t observe the reality.   In reality, there is

no such freedom ever exist like we conceived in the notion.   Even the most powerful rich person still has

to live in the oxygen rich air and soon or later has to die.   Restriction is the basis of our existence.

Ideally imagined condition,  or a story from another world may tell otherwise,  still a person was

bound to live within his or her restrictive  Karma.   But it doesn’t mean there is no freedom to the person.


If you think about music,  in the traditional folk music,  even  popular Blues,  they  were composed in the

Pentatonic which is the Natural Tonal System.   But its got only five notes ( well, octave higher etc, a bit

more ) ——- from those meager five +  notes,  how many tunes  we human being created in the history ?

Have you ever heard the same tune or melody  from different source ?     No such thing ever happened in

the isolated situation (culture)—–other than a copy.

Any new tune can be created  even from very restricted five notes —- isn’t this  Freedom ?   Need  more ?

Full use of the tonal scale, 12 tone system, or even continuous frequency change of the electronic  music

the possibility and the freedom  to create new music should be much higher ——— though in  the result,

do you remember any of such contemporary music ? ——– It is the evidence of what the unrestricted

freedom had achieved.    Theoretically it might be new,  but in reality its a trash,  nobody give a sit kind.

In political correctness,  its free to express any new idea, it must be one’s freedom.  But in the same time

others got exactly same right of freedom not to give a damn to such idea.  It is the waste of the life.


There was a funny quote ( sorry I forgot who said this though) ” If the God wished the man to play Foot Ball

he wouldn’t have given the hands to us”  😀

If there was no hand from the beginning,  there is no notion of the hand or possibility to image them—-so,

there wouldn’t be any complaint of the restriction not having the hands.  Just ply Foot Ball. (no punch up :-))

The notion of the restriction is only a thought of excuse by a person who haven’t actually tried it.

When anybody try long enough,  and to know deep enough,  there is unlimited possibility and the freedom.

To contemplate ” Who you are”  and to build your life  in its maximum possibility, is the Zen.

And the Zen Master called this  Jizai. ——- Being as Itself.

( Sadly,  I noticed so many people stranded on front of the door, puzzling ” Who you are”—-misguided

by the wrong but looks elaborated  words, words, words. Look at the mirror, its you. Who  else )

———-In the history, J.S. Bach’s music is the best sample of the achievement of such  freedom.

You should try  listen his  ” Art of Fugue”,  which was composed from the four notes  B, A, C, H.

Its followed strict rule of the ” Counter Point”  in the Fugue, to make the variation of those four

note in different order and permutation.—— And created such a universe of mesmerizing

musical time and the space.

His achievement is one of the epoch in the human history.

J. S. Bach — Helmut Walcha

One morning,  when I was drifting, I heard a pipe organ music of  J.S. Bach, in the back of a TV drama.

Then,  I decided to go west to listen the sound of original instrument in the original acoustic environment.

Before, I was an enthusiast of  Baroque music, especially Bach’s organ Music.  So, I made a long list of the church and the name of the town where the recording was made for the German Gramophone Archive Record.

Then I took a ship to Siberia, Russia.  When the ship left Yokohama Port, I saw off  Japan  with my eyes getting fuzzier as it may be the last time to see her ever again.


After long journey through frozen land scape of Russia, I reached to  Helsinki, Finland.  The Helsinki Cathedral was my starting point of 100 of the church organ pilgrimage, covering many famous Alp Schnitger, Silbermann organs etc.    (The beauty of this plan was, if we go to the Church on  Sunday, there is the organ music played on, could be 300 years old original instrument, in the unique acoustic of the church. Free of charge.—- On top of this, many organ concerts, festivals held there)


Then I came across a charity concert of  Bach’s organ music to help restoration of old organ in Frankfurt.  The Organist was the most famous organist Prof; Helmut Walcha,  whose recording captured me into Bach’s organ music. (Prof; Walcha is a blind man, thus he played hundreds of organ music just from his memory)

Before concert start I was talking with a man sat next of me, about the different sound of each organ all over the Europe, since it was nearly the end of my journey,  I had covered most of the famous organs already.

The man was rather surprised of my journey, and he took me up  to organ booth and introduced me to the organist, Prof; Walcha  himself. ——- the man was the Manager of  Prof; Walcha.  ( Can you believe such a lucky coincidence.  ! )

Prof; Walcha talked about a tour of Japan and his friend, Musicologist Keisei Sakka.   And I had happened to attend a special  lecture by Prof; Sakka about the evolution of  Music Tonal System as a part of my Sociological study.  ( Tonal System evolved under the Christian monastic life and their Protestant Ethos of the devotion of the own life to perfect it — unlike a superficial glorification in the Catholic church, where how much gold was used to decorate the organ was the matter, but in the Protestant church, how three sounds of Trinity harmonize perfect was the matter. ) —– (I wrote about how Natural Tonal System was created.)

———-It was the incredibly lucky coincidence to fulfill my pilgrimage.

And it made one of the best moment of my whole life. What I could ask more.


Some ignorant criticize Bach’s music, saying that they are too abstract, even mechanical.   In fact it was the self confession of how he is ignorant and having no ear to appreciate the music.  Under the most strict rules of such as the Fugue, still able to create such soul-shaking striking music is the work of nothing but the genius. ——– Achieve  total freedom under the strict rules, is the Zen.

Unlike Romantic School’s sticky emotional melody,  Polyphonic Baroque Music, especially Bach’s music can eliminate the thought.  (Rather constant rhythm / no syncopation, and three-part polyphonic keeps waving complex tonal pictures,  which  refuses our own imagination —– makes us just listen the sound, not a story or any notion—– yet it gave us very comfortable relaxed feeling)

It’s suite to the Zenist.


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