Difficulty: Medium; 4 arrangements: 1. Arranged for string quartet, didjeridu & percussion; 2. Arranged for recorder and string orchestra; 3. Large chamber ensemble; 4. Orchestra
I think one of music’s great blessings to humanity is its capacity to still the unquiet mind, suspend the linear passage of time and promote the intuitive “night” mode of consciousness which invites present-centred contemplation. In our tense and turbulent times the need to restore contemplative music to mainstream listening is being recognized even in the Western concert hall.
When I was commissioned by the Tyalgum Festival of northern NSW to create a work for shakuhachi, didjeridu and percussion, I took the opportunity to explore the contemplative mode through techniques involving the repetition of sounds and shapes that might induce a sense of timelessness. At that time, I had no inkling that the work I created, Tyalgum Mantras, would become one of my most widely performed compositions and initiate a series of mantra pieces, including Dawn Mantras and The Heart of Night, for shakuhachi and orchestra. The flexible format and scoring has allowed many different performance possibilities ranging from a very large ensemble to just a few instruments. It has been performed in the open air, in the desert; once, memorably, outside a Welsh castle by the sea at dawn, and in semi-darkened concert halls and candle-lit churches. Other possibilities await exploration.