The Temple of Sound: Enter into a Vortex of Sounds and Silence
By Suzanne Ludekens
Temple of Sound Concert Series
By Shingetsu Billy White
Thu, Apr 21, and Fri, Apr 22, 7pm
San Miguel Playhouse
Ave. Independencia 82
Iinterviewed Shingetsu Billy White about his forthcoming full moon concerts.
Suzanne Ludekens: What is the “Temple of Sound” to you?
Billy White: All temples are sacred spaces. This Temple of Sound invites the audience on an exploration. It’s a more “entertaining” version of the sound meditations I developed over the past several years, combining the music I performed as Billy “Blanco” White and the ceremonial style of the sound circles.
You might say this is a kind of “coming out.” My previous shows as a flamenco guitarist included some meditative aspects. This concert is an evolution of all my past events; this time it’s all in the service of the great mystery. And it’s a vehicle to try many new things. I have added instruments ranging from Indian sarod, slide blues guitar, Native American flute, and even beatboxing! It is unlike anything I have attempted before, but it should definitely be enjoyable and fun.
SL: What ancient and contemporary influences have inspired these concerts?
BW: The music of India, Africa, the Middle East, Shamanic, and ritualistic music have all been deeply inspiring, as well as modern ambient and electronic pioneers such as Brian Eno, Alio Die, Steve Roach, and Byron Metcalf, and also modern overtone singers such as David Hykes and Baird Hersey. I listen to and absorb so many things. But most of all, silence is the greatest teacher.
SL: How has your spiritual journey influenced your music?
BW: Endlessly, continuously, and still expanding. Thanks to so many extraordinary teachers, meditation makes it possible to surrender to the process. It is in the smallest things—a singing bird, the bells of a church, wind in trees. This is the spiritual reality that we are all part of; we only need to notice. The Zen Buddhist tradition even has a musical element, as there are many koans about sound and Zen parables related to hearing and awakening through sound.
SL: The musical instruments you play are beautifully crafted and seem to have a life of their own. In your Sound Meditations, they take the listeners on a deep inner journey. Do you feel each instrument speaks or sings to us in a certain way or to a certain part of us?
BW: Different instruments carry different harmonic structures and touch many memories and subtle aspects of each listener. Some evoke strong feeling and ultimately can bring balance and deeper connection to the source. For instance, the Tibetan bowls have a wide spectrum of vibration and can have a cleansing, purifying effect.
SL: And overtone voice and throat singing, how is that part of your journey?
BW: I was fascinated by the possibilities of the voice to produce multiple tones, harmonics, or overtones that you hear with Tuvan throat singers and Tibetan monks. After many years of chanting in temples, I began spontaneously producing these sounds and now have developed them more fully. Throat singing is a very powerful way to access a much higher vibration than the human voice can produce, even higher than the ear can perceive at times. Learning to create the harmonics is profoundly healing and can facilitate entry into altered states of consciousness.
SL: How does improvisation and “looping” influence the concert?
BW: Improvisation is the foundation of this kind of concert, to continue expanding, and it is surprising both to me and the audience.
As for the looping pedal, it is a great source of invention as it becomes a time vortex of sorts, capturing each moment of sound and layering sound upon sound. Juxtaposing new loops with new live sounds continuously changes the spectrum of possibility, and so the listener may enter a sense of deja vu, experiencing new dimensions within their listening.
Just to clarify, this is a live performance— there is nothing pre-recorded or synthesized.
SL: Sound meditations and sacred music are becoming more available, more popular. Do you see a changing relationship of people to sound? In what ways?
BW: Yes, I strongly feel that sound is and will be a primary healing modality. Sound medicine will become more and more common as it is a great medium for people to enter into deeper relaxation and expanded states of awareness.
SL: How do dancers integrate into the concert?
BW: I have invited two of the best dancers here in San Miguel: Carmen Jiménez and Mittie Babette Roger. Carmen has studied and taught Sufi Whirling Dervish and tribal belly dance, while Mittie is known as an exceptional tribal fusion dancer. Both are very good at translating the abstract sonic world of music into visual expression. I think the audience will enjoy their presence!
Tickets (250 pesos) are available at the Tianguis Orgánico on Saturday, April 9 and April 16, and Gallery Ensueños, 57A Mesones, 10:30am–2pm Wednesday–Monday.