Now, once more, I must ride with my knights to defend what was, and the dream of what could be. (from “Excalibur”)
It begins with the king as a boy, having to spend the night alone in the forest to prove his courage so he can become king. Now while he is spending the night alone he’s visited by a sacred vision. Out of the fire appears the holy grail, symbol of God’s divine grace. And a voice said to the boy, “You shall be keeper of the grail so that it may heal the hearts of men.” But the boy was blinded by greater visions of a life filled with power and glory and beauty. And in this state of radical amazement he felt for a brief moment not like a boy, but invincible, like God, so he reached into the fire to take the grail, and the grail vanished, leaving him with his hand in the fire to be terribly wounded. Now as this boy grew older, his wound grew deeper. Until one day, life for him lost its reason. He had no faith in any man, not even himself. He couldn’t love or feel loved. He was sick with experience. He began to die. One day a fool wandered into the castle and found the king alone. And being a fool, he was simple minded, he didn’t see a king. He only saw a man alone and in pain. And he asked the king, “What ails you friend?” The king replied, “I’m thirsty. I need some water to cool my throat”. So the fool took a cup from beside his bed, filled it with water and handed it to the king. As the king began to drink, he realized his wound was healed. He looked in his hands and there was the holy grail, that which he sought all of his life. And he turned to the fool and said with amazement, “How can you find that which my brightest and bravest could not?” And the fool replied, “I don’t know. I only knew that you were thirsty.” (from “The Fisher King”)
My dear Druydical brothers and I decided a few weeks ago to set out on a quest. A perilous quest. A quest to find the musical holy grail. So what’s a musical holy grail you ask? The honest answer to that is that we ourselves don’t really know. What we do know is that we need a new sound. So we’ve taken out our grinding wheels and sharpened our ears to listen to both our sound and the sound of others. And the result has been ear opening. Just last night I listened to four different versions of “Across the universe”. It goes without saying that everyone’s musical interpretation was different. But that’s not what I’m listening for now. I’m now listening to where’s each instrument in relation to the other? Does it sound like they’re playing in my room or in the next room? Do they each have the same amount of presence? Do they have any presence at all?
Besides this, we have each of us been listening to ourselves more closely while playing and practising at home. And even though I’ve been singing very nearly every day for almost five years, I have never really had that close a listen to my voice. I know I have about a 2 and a half to 3 octave range, that my voice was quite small when I started and has grown stronger with practice. But what happens to the sound when I sing low? What about when I sing high? How does my voice fuse with the didge and guitar at different ranges? How does it diverge and when? Do I have presence? If not, how can I get it? These are things that I had never sought out. Until now.
And so we ride on our quest. To God knows where. Will we ever find the musical holy grail? Has it been on our bedside tables the whole time? Does it even exist at all? Well, they say that it’s not the destination but the journey that counts…hear, hear…