THE EXPERIMENTAL TRANCE MANIFESTO Background From its roots in the 1980s, trance music has aimed to empower and entrance. Through the 1990s, it built on its original repetitive, hypnotic structures and brought in anthemic pads, structures of progression, and uplifting buildups and breakdowns. However, with the advent of the build-up, breakdown formula, trance has become increasingly derivative and even, in many cases, cheesy and melodramatic. The music of many of today’s trance artists has become so formulaic and boring that it is difficult, when handed a mix CD of their songs, to differentiate between them. If we are to save trance from falling into derivate boredom on the one hand and total commercialism on the other—with only big name trance artists defining the public opinion of what constitutes “trance”—then we must return to the experimentation through which trance was born, for trance was born as an experiment. I do not call for a return to the original formula of endless repetition of the same pattern, nor do I call for a rejection of the developments that have followed it; I call for an evolution, a movement away from stagnation, away from monotonous music, and towards meaningful, uplifting, fresh, daring, and powerful trance. Beliefs • We, the experimental trance movement, believe in the power of trance music to evoke dance, emotion, and even spiritual experience • We, the experimental trance movement, believe in diversifying and exploring ways to make trance fresh; we believe in experimenting with new synths, new structures, and varied BPMs and in reimagining conventional structures when we choose to use them. • We, the experimental trance movement, believe in taking trance in new directions; we are not afraid to bring in elements of other genres and fuse them with trance (for example, see Adam Pearson’s Oceanica for a fusion of trance, ambient, downtempo and classical-inspired melodic progressions). • We, the experimental trance movement, strive for authenticity; we shirk cheesiness and melodrama and aim for genuine emotional experience • We, the experimental trance movement, believe in making trance free; we are free to use or violate trance conventions as best suits our creative needs, free to try new things, free to discover and empower
Call for Action
If you embrace these ideals and aspirations for genuine, fresh trance and wish to join the experimental trance movement, send a song demonstrating your application of the experimental trance ideals to Adam Pearson (email@example.com). Please enclose a short statement explaining how your track applies or is consistent with the tenets outlined above.
What is spirituality and how does it differ from religion? Spirituality, as I humbly see it, is the sum total of our ways of deeply seeing (as opposed to superficially “looking at”) and relating to, life, reality, nature, our self, and each other. It is our lived experience of relationship with all of these things, of connection to all of these things, and, when we practice deeply, our lived sense of the Oneness of all of these things.
Spirituality unfolds in our present awareness, in this present moment, here, now. Outside of this present moment and the stream of life as we find it here and now, it has no existence.
A religion is a system of insights, practices, stories, traditions, and methods that are designed to re-connect (re-ligio) us to the ultimate Reality. Whereas a spirituality is personal, a religion is developed by many individuals, often in response to the teachings of a monolithic initial founder (such as the Buddha for Buddhism or Jesus for Christianity). Whereas a spirituality exists only in our present lived experience, a religion endures through time, often for thousands of years.
What is the relationship between a spirituality and a religion? A spirituality can develop naturalistically apart from any religion, as when we come to an authentic way of relating to life, each other, nature, reality, and our own selfhood apart from tradition. Or, it can develop within the framework of a particular religion (as for someone who identifies as a Christian and develops a spirituality for themselves that is rooted in Christian teaching). Or, it can develop outside of any single religious framework, but in a way that draws on the insights of all of the world’s religions. I see merit in all three of these ways of developing spiritualities. My personal approach is the third of these ways.
Why should we develop a spirituality? This is an important question, which is particularly significant in the materialistic, consumeristic, cynical and relativistic culture in which we presently live. The primary reason is that spirituality takes us from superficial experience to deep, full experience; it deepens our experience, and in so doing, deepens us as human beings. Without developing a spirituality, we live, as Goethe put it, “from hand to mouth.” We let our life fly by as a series of meals, working moments, pleasures, pains, sufferings, appearances, advertisements, purchases and before we know it, we are in the grave. After living such a life, we risk to find, in our last waking moments, that we have lost our lives without ever having truly lived at all.
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I strongly feel that my music can stand alone apart from any philosophical, spiritual or religious context, and need not be read in any particular context in order to be “properly” heard. Like philosophy, spirituality, and religion, music is universal. People in Hong Kong, Bombay, Montreal or Taipei can just as easily relate to a Beatles song, for instance, regardless of whether they have ever been to Britain.
Once a song or a composition springs out of the context that gives it its birth, it becomes a universal vessel, a carrier of meanings that remain always partially indeterminate—new generations and new peoples always seem to find something new hiding within them. Music moves the heart and provides a vehicle that the mind can ride through its journeys on the seas of contemplation; it expresses the movements of the heart and mind and in so doing, moves its listener, much like a string moves adjacent strings and holds them in a vibrating harmony.
Some people can enjoy my music as dance music, well-suited to dancing. Others may find it to be great background music for contemplating their lives and life in general. Still others may find that it can serve as an instrument for the practice of mindfulness; by allowing their attention to ride the music as they listen, and not stray from it, they may practice a kind of musical meditation. All of these modes of relating to music, and all other possible ones, are valid. Music, like reality, is unbound by any particular perspective and flowers and blossoms in the multiplicity of possible angles from which it is and can be seen.
I personally see my music as flowing out of my view of life, out of my spirituality, and ultimately, out of my meetings with my fellow human beings, with Reality, and with the world’s great Wisdom Traditions or religions. I see my music as ostensibly dance music, but more fundamentally, an expression of the joy and peace that flow from authentic, awake, and mindful experience. My songs aim partially to move the body, but I also hope that they move the heart as well. Ideally, they should move the heart, body and mind simultaneously, concurrently activating all of these areas of our human being and thereby laying bare their essential unity.
Discussion Questions 1. How do you see the music you listen to or your own music? 2. What do you hope others will get out of your music?
Finding yourself stuck behind a creative barrier, as if the wheels of creativity have stopped spinning? Here are thirteen tips that have helped me break out of my creative dry-spells. I hope you'll find them helpful and that they will get those creative juices flowing again!
(1) Listen to music from totally different genres fromwhat you usually listen to.
(2) Shift art forms; do some drawing, write some poetry or a short prose piece; do a free-write. Sometimes getting your imagination working on very different things can spur your musical mind onward.
(3) Choose some random sounds, and start a free musical piece with them. Intend not to let anyone hear it, so that the mind doesn't get too bogged down in details or in making something "presentable." Make it free and keep it fun.
(4) Go back to those works of art that most inspired you review or relisten to them; try to take note of details you previously missed.
(5) Go to an art gallery; view an exhibit you've never seen before.
(5) Read a new book.
(6) Go to the forest; connect with nature, and listen for rhythms and melodies in the flowing sounds of the natural world.
(7) Dive into your memory bank; think of the moments when you felt most inspired, or the most emotionally intense moments in your life.
(8) Take a feeling or mood (e.g. energetic, happy, sad, depressed, optimistic, cynical, dark, tormented, blissful, mellow, etc.), perhaps one you never dealt with before in music, and give yourself the task of giving it a soundtrack.
(8) Do the same, but with an abstract idea; what would justice sound like? what would be the soundtrack of wisdom? compassion? freedom?
(9) Watch a scene from one of your favourite movies with the sound on mute; watch it in the dark and imagine what its soundtrack would be, if it were written by you.
(10) Write a sentence or message, or choose a favourite quote. What would the soundtrack of this quote be?
(11) Imagine a scene or setting; what sort of music would best flesh it out?
(12) Collaborate with another artist; sometimes the confluence of two artists' creative streams can produce something as powerful as it is beautifully fresh.
(13) Take a break from writing and creating for a while. Be receptive; take the world in. After this period, your creative activity will have a sense of vivid novelty, which pours out of all of the new experiences of the world that you have received.
I hope these will help break through those walls obstructing your creative flow. Have fun experimenting with them, and let me know which ones work best for you.