Music Is Magic. Love Is The Music & Your Story Is The Music.
In the process of my article on Abigail Spinner McBride I encountered Rob Lewis on The Path. The Universe has a way of doing that! And a good thing it is too!
Looking at the material that Rob sent over I realized that it would be best to just let his own words create the article. Clearly his passion and dedication come thru as a fine Bass line with a rhythmic drumming that draws you into his world and forces you to evaluate and revel in the mysteries & magic of music. Yes, Rob understands that Magic.
Here are his words: -
“For me, music is an ever-present companion. My first thoughts in the morning and last thoughts at night are always accompanied by music. For me, music is magic. There is a story, a flow of emotional content, in every song. Everyday, I'm surprised by sounds. Sounds that I've heard a thousand times STILL share mysteries previously hidden from me. Thankfully, I am still steadily learning, so I can predict that I'll always have more surprises to uncover.
While riding in the car, as a child, I started to realize the classic rock music, that my Dad (an amateur bassist and drummer) prefers, had certain recurring themes, similar colors, and I could start to analyze the chord structures of songs on the radio. This little skill would grow to fill me up entirely. I became, and remain, absolutely entranced, obsessed, by harmony.
I learned the basics of many instruments before I attended high school, where I would take as many music classes as humanly possible, often before and after the regular school day. All this study prepared me to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.
My time at Berklee was short, but absolutely packed with content. I absorbed as much information as possible, and even tried to change my instrument from Drumset to Bass Guitar, just to allow myself more time to focus on harmony (rather than practicing drum concepts that were quickly becoming more than I could handle). I was not able to change instruments (I would lose my scholarship, if I did), but I had learned a lot about what I wanted from music and from my education. It was time to move on.
To be frank, 10 years went by without any great improvement for me. In 2016, Abigail "Spinner" McBride contacted me to play bass for a Kirtan chanting session. I had no idea what those words meant, but I knew I had to accept. Since I began playing Kirtan music, and especially, speaking with Abigail about her philosophy of music, I have made progress that is still startling to me! If, by chance, you are an artist who feels they are in a rut, or stuck on a plateau, do not fret. Sometimes you have to sit on an idea for a decade before it makes sense, but every moment of painful pondering leading up to your breakthrough will be worth it.
My ears have opened up. I left college with a pretty well developed sense of Relative Pitch (I do not have Perfect Pitch, but Relative Pitch along with Tone Memorization allow me to give the illusion of Perfect Pitch from time to time). My time in Kirtan really put my ears in a new category for me. Suddenly, in C Minor, the Bb major chord was no longer just a VII chord to function as a softer cadence to a tonic landing point - now the Bb major sounds like a relative of the note C, just a couple keys away in the "Flat" or "Darker" direction - A friend of C, here to lend support. It may sound either silly, or pretentious, but this change of perception allows me to hear the personality of sound, not just its function. Nowadays, I react more emotionally to every note, and every pulse.
Particularly, silence has entered my awareness. The space between notes in time, and in space, is now filled - filled with breath, filled with the beating of my heart. Imagine what this revelation does for your practice time with a metronome. The time between metronome ticks is now full of "microrhythms" which have deepened my understanding of Groove, Feel, and Rubato playing. As a percussionist in school, I hadn't really had much experience playing in a Rubato feel, but often, group chanting necessitates a much more sensitive perception of time, like Romantic era music (one of my favorite genres). It is magical how deep and consistently thrilling the well of sound and silence have become in my ears.
My new philosophy on music has allowed me to grow as an improviser, a soloist, and as a supporting bassist. Just because the road to get here was long for me, doesn't mean it has to be long for you. Listening is its own practice, and you can start immediately. Be conscious of your breath, of your heartbeat, and of your music. If you can, completely surrender to the sound. I don't believe there are any risks in this practice, although it can seem daunting. And, if you are as obsessed with music theory as I am, don't worry. I still analyze what I hear and play, but I am better at controlling it.
If you fully experience your own performance, you will find it easy to recall afterward. THEN, you can analyze all you want. Just know that the analysis is not the music. Love is the music, and your story is the music.
Thanks again, Anthony, for reaching out to me. I am very excited to share myself, and I'm thrilled to find such a great resource for new music! “ - Rob Lewis