Dreaming Into Alternate Universes
for Singing Masks, Surround Sound-scape, Narration, and Movement
by Norman Lowrey
Texts by Fred Alan Wolf
Just as William Blake suggested that we could "See a World in a Grain of Sand," so too is it possible to hear a universe in each instance of sound. With this in mind, listen to all sounds and select any one in any given instant to follow into its parallel universe. Sound and/or move with your own sense of that universe. Stay within that universe as long as you wish, via memory, imagination, or any other body/dream/cognitive modality. Remain open to simultaneously occurring universes. Transporting yourself into sounds in this way, go to as many universes as you wish. Or none at all. "Just" listening is ok. The Singing Mask Spirits are guides along your journey. Have fun and bon voyage!
"The first step in dream practice is quite simple: one must recognize the great poential that dream holds for the spiritual journey. Normally the dream is thought to be ‘unreal,' as opposed to ‘real' waking life. But there is nothing more real than dream. This statement only makes sense once it is understood that normal waking life is as unreal as dream, and in exactly the same way. Then it can be understood that dream yoga applies to all experience, to the dreams of the day as well as the dreams of the night." -Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep, Snow Lion Publications, 1998
I've been making Singing Masks for over 20 years now. They have been real teachers and spiritual guides for me. Their teachings have centered on dreamtime, animism, connection, and the reality of infinite dimensions. I'm a bit of a slow learner. It's taken me these 20 years to just begin to get around to the parallel universe teaching.
The masks function as "vehicles of transformation." Their voices and imagery speak to our ancient and primal "one-ness." They may stimulate experiences of (real) alternate imaginal/dream realms. This is what In Parallel explores.
The sonic "ground" accompanying In Parallel consists of three independent
ingredients: 1) Recordings I've made over the years of a wide variety of things
ranging from frogs in New Mexico to a sound installation at the corner of
46th and Broadway in New York, and including recordings from prior Singing
Mask ceremony/performances (list at end).
2) Recording of 64 selected passages from Parallel Universes by theoretical physicist Fred Alan Wolf. (Simon & Schuster, 1988)
3) Electronic (E-MU Proteus 2000) bell sounds triggered by a computer-driven random note generator I created for the occasion.
The recorded material is on separate CDs interspersed with tracks of random length silences. They are played back in random shuffle mode. Yet another aspect of the masks' teaching has been about abandoning my false notions about control and allowing for the unpredictable.
There are a few consequences of this tactic. One is that there is no guarantee that all the tracks will get played. Another is that there may be repetition of tracks. And yet another is that the two may combine in ways that render the text unintelligible.
And a consequence of (the possibility of) having so much going on at once is that we are challenged into multitasking (or maybe better present-day jargon: parallel processing). + Words to "tickle the little gray cells," as Hercule Poirot would say. + There are the voices and imagery of the masks to take in. + Invitation to sound and move. Parallel universes, indeed! Well, it's an exploration...
In Parallel soundscape includes:
1. Stream (Monterey, MA 1979) - 2 tracks
2. Spirit Talk (Madison, NJ 2000) - 3 tracks
3. Spring peepers (Great Swamp, NJ 1979) - 2 tracks
4. ReVoicings (Madison, NJ 2000) - 4 tracks
5. Max Neuhaus Installation (46th & Broadway, NYC 1979), with frogs - 1 track
6. Bees (Linwood ,NY 1980) - 1 track
7. Frogs (Rose Mountain, NM 1998) - 3 tracks
8. Lake (Monterey, MA 1979) - 1 track
9. Cat purring (Green Village, NJ 1980) -1 track
10. Sheep (Linwood, NY 1979) - 1 track
11. Waterfall (Monterey, MA 1979) - 1 track
12. Morning walk (Boonton, NJ 2000) - 1 track
13. Hummingbirds (Rose Mountain, NM 1998) -1 track
14. Meadow and horses at night (Linwood, NY 1980) - 1 track
Here are 5 tracks from a mix-tape used for live performance of In Parallel, including text by Fred Allan Wolf recorded by Norman Lowrey: