It's easy to forget that our human melodramas, joyful and bummeriffic, are happening as vibrations in the infinite cosmos. And that these vibrations -- the vibrations of our orgasms, breakups, and boredom -- were apparently created by the same occurrence, 13.7 billion years ago, that formed our sun, planet Earth, and all the distant nebulae and space objects that we marvel at through telescopes.
In a "sincere attempt" to put us into context and to "have fun with what's out there," Mickey Hart, a founding member of the Grateful Dead, went to work on a project in which he brought together the most distant and familiar vibrations set forth by the Big Bang in order to make rock 'n' roll.
"The infinite universe tapped me on the shoulder, asked me to dance, and I just went with it," he says.
On 2012's Mysterium Tremendum, Hart drums along with light waves from deep space that he has been collecting and sonifying with the help of world-renowned scientists. And to be sure that the vibrations of humanity ring out in the music as brilliantly as the throbs of black holes do, he put together a killer band to jam with and invited fellow Grateful Dead alumni Robert Hunter to contribute lyrics.
The resulting record is a hypnotic and thematic display of blood and guts in the midst of the unknown.
"Stuff we're doing here is like little miniatures of what is happening in the infinite cosmos," he says. "That's what music is all about. It basically imitates what is going on in the universe. It's all about vibrations and rhythms, and time, and coordinated movement. Just like the heavens, coordinated movement."
Music is healing, he says, because it reconnects us or awakens us to our own inherent rhythm, and that allows us to harmonize more easily with the vibratory conditions of our lives, and the rest of the universe.
"There are many remedies that lie within the vibratory world, some of it music, that have effects on the human condition."
While Hart, a longtime proponent of music therapy, considers healing to be one of the main functions of music, he also touts the importance of a seemingly less profound or spiritual aspect: entertainment.
"The inner spirituality that you are getting out of it somehow has to translate into entertainment, or need for somebody to want to come see you do that," he says. "That's the great thing about music: it has to fulfill a purpose. And its purpose is defined by the community. The community needs its sound, its dance, its celebration. Without that it dies, becomes bankrupt, spiritually. So, that's all part of the inner-workings of spiritual based music."
From this standpoint, Hart has created Mysterium Tremendum, a musical offering that is as divine as the Eye of God (AKA Helix Nebula) and as relevant as our flesh and bones. And, never one to take much of a break from his practice of entraining with the cosmos, Hart is out on the road now, dancing with the unknown, his very DNA, and his community of fellows.
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If you feel drawn to join in the dance, book it up to Wanee Fest this weekend, where Mickey Hart Band plays Friday afternoon.
Wannee Festival 2012. Featuring Allman Brothers Band, Furthur, Govt. Mule, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Mickey Hart Band, Manzarek-Rogers Band and many more. April 19-21 at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, 3076 95 Dr., Live Oak. Tickets cost $199.50-$229.50. Click here.