“Big Bang Mythology” – “Steve Tibbetts and 7 Sound Archetypes” by Willi Paul, Planetshifter.com Magazine (+ pdf version)
Note: Please download the pdf version of this work attached at the bottom of this post.
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( I ) Prelude -
I love this! Incredible talent with musical and … within 20 seconds you go from a sonorous desert to a mosh pit, a Tibetan temple, outer space, frozen tundra, and all with amazing drumming and breathtaking chords!
"The alchemical process is a physical ritual that projects an inner state onto physical elements." "Yes, I believe I understand how alchemy can work in the sound and visual arts; what’s just as clear is that today’s technology has definitely upped the ante." Source: PlanetShifter.com Magazine Interview with Stephen Gerringer, Joseph Campbell Foundation
“Who would know anything about sounds from pre-history? By definition, they would be unknowable. I do like folding in the sounds of chanting in such a way that they lurk just under other sonic features: cymbals, drums, and so on. It gives a sort of "voice" to the instruments. These sorts of sounds rest just under the threshold of consciousness. It's fun to play with perception in that way. I don't actively sample nature. However, in sampling gongs and other instruments in Bali, I found that the sounds of frogs, bugs, and chickens were also recorded. I left those sounds in. It gives the samples a nice organic buzz on the top.” From an interview with Steve Tibbetts by Willi, 7/2010.
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( II ) Introduction –
Origins of Sound Archetypes
Origins of sound archetypes go back to the Paleolithic period when all humans were hunter-gatherers. In this long period humans were closer to nature and their understanding of the “sacred” was very different from the current understanding of the sacred in the western culture. The sacred concepts in the form of ancestor spirits, first hunter spirit or the animal spirits were part of their daily lives and dreams. They communicated with these spirits in their dreams. Their self-consciousness and intellect were not as developed but their minds processed the symbols much better than us. They were myth-makers; they needed myths to survive and to understand the world around them. As part of the myth-making process, they communicated through symbols.
The sound archetypes were imprinted in ancestor brains by the shamanistic rituals of chanting and dancing. We all carry remnants of these imprints in our genes and in our collective mind. Chanting and dancing still have powerful effects on humans. Kiirtan is a modern version of the sacred dances of the Paleolithic times. The Sufi dances are the same way. Rhythmic repetitions of certain sounds take us to our beginnings. Basically we are reaching the deeper layers of our brain, the parts of the brain that deal with raw emotions and even deeper layers, the so-called primitive brain where involuntary body functions are performed. The sound archetypes are to be found at this layer of the brain and in the corresponding layers of the mind which is the collective mind of our species.
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( III ) Surfacing with the Primordial Images –
‘As many writers have discussed in PlanetShifter.com Magazine interviews, this sound is an alchemical or transmutation process, where the recombining of elements and the interactive process is more important than the product. Also examine myth as soundscape – or how the imagination of each listener both creates and recombines a story and how the meanings evolve as each collaboration changes the forces. These fragments can be re-mixed as each new group is created.
Differing from other musical composition, here sound is no longer the background but the foreground as the evolving sound collage drives the listener experience; sound is now a new story that we process and interpret individually and collectively.’
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Steve Tibbetts (born 1954) is a St. Paul, Minnesota-based American guitarist known for an original approach to both composing and sound-forming. Tibbetts views the recording studio as a tool for creating sounds. Most of his releases include world percussionist Marc Anderson.
There are no new sound archetypes, just new renditions or surfacings. Sound archetypes are re-called, re-powered and re-forged with reference to present day cultural traditions, rituals, images, symbols , machines and instruments, voices, costumes, drugs, initiations, values by a small pool of artists and alchemists.
Big Bang Mythology is the unique vision of the author, and is not endorsed by the Mr. Tibbetts. Primordial images are passages, connectors, and / or sonic frames – and not entire songs that are based on my journey and initiations to date.
Primordial sounds are Nature-borne forces that are expressed through our subconscious to the conscious. Archetypical sounds are the key to human evolution on earth and are the source of mythology throughout the ages.
For me, Tibbetts’ music is a cataylst to the primordial coil or anima, especially in his live performances.
( IV ) 7 Sound Archetypes in Steve Tibbett’s Guitar-
1. Album Title / Song Title: Yr / Sphexes
Primordial Image: Do no fear the moan hiss kisses from the monkey clan as they have plenty of smaller, slower prey to feed on
Sound Archetype 1 (Listen )
2. Album Title / Song Title: A Man About a Horse / Lochana
Primordial Image: As the volcano mountain spills lava into sea below, boom hiss bang, new soil will come forth with seeds sprouting
Sound Archetype 2 (Listen)
3. Album Title / Song Title: Yr / Ten Years
Primordial Image: Sonar talk in the dolphin pack, poing zip zing poing, communicates and protects the family
Sound Archetype 3 (Listen)
4. Album Title / Song Title: Exploded View / Your Cat
Primordial Image: Melting snow fuels the spring creeks and lakes, gurgle drip drip splash, recharging nutrients with sunshine
Sound Archetype 4 (Listen)
5. Album Title / Song Title: The Fall of Us All / HellBound Train
Primordial Image: Strong winds, swoosh swoosh, are working up dust out on the plains
Sound Archetype 5 (Listen)
6. Album Title / Song Title: Exploded View / Name Everything
Primordial Image: Great Spirit cries thunder: wack bang wackkkkkkkkkkk BAM!
Sound Archetype 6 (Listen)
7. Album Title / Song Title: Exploded View / Metal Summer
Primordial Image: The first human being breaks through the atmosphere and crashes on the beach Sound Archetype 7 (Listen)
Not all New Mythologies are sound-driven. And whether or not you feel that Tibbett’s has captured and revitalized the primordial in the 7 sound archetypes above, there are many other artists that we can explore in the mythic, like U2’s Bullet the Blue Sky and Jane’s Addiction’s Mountain Song.
It is up to all of us to learn to tap the unconscious / conscious for new chants, spoken poems, trance songs and rituals that we desperately need to evolve.
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( V ) Big Bang Mythology Resources –
1. Questions -
a. If we can feel the power of myth from storytellers, then why not from sound archetypes?
b. Can a “Sound Myth” be a series of integrated Sound Archetypes that have a universal theme and message?
c. How do we translate or transmute sound archetypes into visual cues, messages, initiations and global meanings?
d. Describe the relationship between sound archetypes and ritual?
e. How do you know when you hear / feel a sound archetype?
f. Are sound archetypes connected to memories and new feelings?
g. What is a mythic experience?
h. Can a sound archetypes help to create a new language, code, or artistic key?
i. Can silence be a sound archetype?
2. Sound Symbol Archetype Myth Work by Willi Paul –
3. Myth Lab and Creating New Myths –
To date, participants have utilized several methods to produce New Myths, including Mythic Imprinting and Artifacts in a five stage process at the Myth Lab.
Here is the current list of elements or influences that can be developed to produce New Myths:
2. Universal struggle / message
3. Journey, Initiation, Hero / Community
6. Nature is Sacred
7. Threat of apocalypse
8. Digital - Non-Digital Collision
10. Sound Archetypes
4. Two Steve Tibbetts Interviews by Willi Paul -
Lucid Dreams, Sonic Cocoon, Tibbetts/Anderson interview
5. Steve’s Bio -
Tibbetts plays acoustic and electric guitar as well as exotic percussive instruments such as the kendang and kalimba. His musical compositions span several genres and styles including experimental, jazz, rock, ambient, and world music. He has self-described his music as "post-modern neo-primitivism". Often more than one genre or style is found in a single composition. A variety of techniques may be used with the guitar such as a string-bending technique sonically imitating a sarangi with a 12-string guitar while also alternating between ambient soundscape and Hendrix-like distorted and feed-backed leads with an electric guitar. He incorporates field-recordings such as the footsteps in the track "Running" from Safe Journey, or the chanting of Nepalese villagers from the last tracks of Big Map Idea.
Tibbetts' recordings often include percussion by St Paul's Marc Anderson.
AllMusic states Tibbetts music is like "mosaics of world music doused in Tibbetts' particular brand of gasoline; not many explosions, but rather a steady wall of flame." The BBC noted Tibbetts' music as a "rich atmospheric brew" and "brilliant individual music making." Rolling Stone described the 1994 The Fall of Us All as "a trip of another, more explosive and enriching kind, a dynamic study of Eastern modality and universal spiritualism driven by rock & roll ambition." Stereophile promoted A Man About a Horse as "album of the month" January 2003.
Tibbetts also uses recording and editing as a creative process. The album A Man About a Horse features many tracks based on rhythms built from acoustic drumming recorded at various tape controlled pitches and speeds. These recordings were then sampled, sequenced and looped on synthesizers. He states, "I go back and forth between the sampler and tape machine so much--looping, cutting, offsetting, and layering--that eventually I don't know where the sounds come from." A collection of his loops and sound textures entitled Friendly Fire were released 2002 by Sonic Foundry for their Acid Loops series.
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“Creative myths are wonderfully cathartic because they cast on the primordial screen of our imaginations archetypal echoes and immense personifications of our hopes and capacities. Mythology bridges the gap between science and spirituality through a kind of mythological methodology: a subjective method of scientific inquiry using archetypal psychology as a vehicle toward discovery.” Source: Gary Z McGee on ”Our Self-inflicted Mythology”.
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