What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another. -Gandhi
Earthdance #1 is a prayer for the earth. Perhaps if we understand it more we will take better care of it. I listen for the rhythms of the earth to better understand its health.
When the Grateful Dead played music in Golden Gate Park Park, we felt connected with the forces of the natural world. There was a sense of freedom: being in the green with our music, joining in celebrations of life and giving. These rituals were formative for the band, new music was birthed there. The connection between me, the earth, and music still drives me.
Every tree is special, having its own life, its own rhythm, its’ own groove. Forests are cathedrals of wood, of life, and all in rhythm. They are the lungs of the earth. Each tree holds the essence of the seed sound, the first vibration, the singularity of the big bang.
BEAT ONE, THE DOWNBEAT
The start of the groove, 13.8 billion years ago. Cosmologists describe the universe as similar to a percussion instrument. Like a giant gong struck by the big bang, its vibrations were initially chaotic and complex, and gradually settled into stable patterns. The lowest bass note we know of is a Bb, 57 octaves below Middle C, a vibration originating from a distant black hole. This sound wave cycles every ten million years, rippling through the dust and stray gas particles scattered throughout space.
The rhythm of the land is what I feel beneath me. The hush, the smell, the moss, the taste of the air, the telltale breeze, all in synchrony, beyond words, beyond thoughts. It‘s the food that feeds my will. When I look at fields, trees, flowers, I am filled with wonder and joy, with shapes, shades and colors of flowing visuals. It all becomes music if you have the ears to hear it.
We are multi-dimensional rhythm machines embedded in a universe of rhythm. We pulse, we throb to the cycles of our world. Yet the terrestrial heartbeat is not a simple meter. The earth is a planet of plurality, a complex polyrhythm of interacting matter and energy.
Our planet circles the sun every 365 days, the moon circles the earth every 28 days. The rhythm we are most connected to is the circadian 24 hour cycle, caused by the rotation of the earth. This rotation gives birth to a multitude of other rhythms.
We stand on the earth’s crust, four miles thick. Beneath this is a solid mantle, 1800 miles deep. Beneath this lies a molten outer core of nickel and iron. Thicker than molasses, the core is constantly stirred as our planet rotates. It is the bass drum of our planet, oscillating at three frequencies simultaneously.
This liquid flow at the core behaves like the rotor of an electric dynamo, creating current and a magnetic field, with the north and south poles as its tips.
The sloshing core pushes against the mantle, causing it to sway and crack, belching up portions of the core through volcanoes, creating seismic vibrations that cause the planet to quiver like a drumhead.
What we call music in our everyday language is only a miniature, which our intelligence has grasped from that music or harmony of the whole universe which is working behind everything, and which is the source and origin of nature. It is because of this that the wise of all ages have considered music to be a sacred art. For in music the seer can see the picture of the whole universe; and the wise can interpret the secret and nature of the working of the whole universe in the realm of music. – Inayat Khan