Composition from the Heart: Music for Healing and Serenity

Science of Mind Magazine 2008

by Beth Adelman

Healers around the world have always known that sound has the power to affect the body as well as the spirit. In ancient Greece, Apollo was the god of both music and medicine. Pythagoras taught his students that certain musical chords and melodies produce definite responses within the human body. In Egypt, healing with sound was considered a scared science. Buddhism and Hinduism also teach that meditating or chanting with certain sounds puts a person in a sacred space and heals.

These days, though, making healing music that can be played while the listener is meditating or doing yoga or just trying to calm down requires a musician to step outside convention. The composer must be willing to forgo being clever or dazzling or difficult. He must be content to be in the background of his listener's awareness. In other words, his music must not be an expression of his own ego, but rather, a compassionate gift to his listener.

David and Steven Gordon started out about thirty years ago playing in recording sessions around Los Angeles, David on the piano and Steve on guitar. The brothers also liked to go backpacking in Sequoia National Park. "On one of these trips, after one of our meditations we found ourselves talking about how musical the nature sounds seemed to us," Steven Gordon says. "The birds and the stream and the sounds of the wind in the trees were almost like musicians playing a composition. We had this flash of inspiration.

"So we recorded the nature sounds, brought them back to our studio and composed music to go with them. Our idea was not to create music to which you add nature sounds, but to create music that would actually interact with these sounds as we would with other musicians, specifically with the idea of giving people the experience of the peace and tranquility of nature."

The result were the albums "Misty Forest Morning" and "Peaceful Evening" followed later by the music and nature classic, "Garden of Serenity." But, in a now-familiar story, this music was recorded in 1982, when nobody was selling meditative music. So the Gordon brothers started taking their recordings to local bookstores. The business they formed is called Sequoia Records and eventually it grew into their full-time work. Today, it's one of the largest healing and sacred music labels, with a host of artists, plus series of compilations featuring music from around the world.

The Gordon brothers consider themselves fortunate to be able to work at what they really love. "David and I have been very influenced by affirmation and positive thought, the idea that you can create your reality in the way you wish by aligning your mind with what you truly desire," Gordon says. "At the same time, we've been really into the Zen idea that what you want and what is become aligned, so that you start to find that you really don't want anything different than what is.

The Gordons have also become known for their drumming albums, combining drums from many different cultures. "We want to combine the ancient and the modern, to find the connection between the ancient rhythms, the first rhythms, and what people dance to nowadays," Steven Gordon says of their interest in drumming. "It creates a sense of the circle being complete. Through our music, modern-day people are being connected with things from the distant past that are really valuable and that shouldn't be lost." By blending new sounds with old, the music stays fresh and interesting, he says, and ultimately, nothing is lost.

"One of the things that is healing about drumming is that it is an extension of your heartbeat, and you can feel very connected when the drum is playing in a rhythm that is in harmony with you heartbeat," Gordon says. But ultimately, healing music is about intention. Gordon explains, "David and I have been meditating and doing yoga for thirty years. The feeling we have when we meditate is in our intention when we play the notes, so we're making an effort to go into the place we go to when we feel at peace, and we're sharing that feeling of inner peace through the instrument and the notes we're playing."

"It's our own inner peace we're sharing. People are transported to that place with us and are feeling the things we felt. I hope that when people hear our music, they feel that it's easy to go to that place of acceptance and joy. My wish is that our music acts as an antidote for modern civilization and helps people connect with that place where they feel at peace and feel acceptance and gratitude for what is."

Read David & Steve Gordon's biography.

Click here to view albums by David & Steve Gordon.

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