Digital Inspiration – Re-print

Rod Stewart in the Studio

Note: In celebration of my 350th post, I thought I’d circle the bases and go back to the beginning – to my first post 4 years ago – January 26, 2007.  This was actually a defining moment for me in the creation of this blog – defining in both its content and style.  It’s still one of my favorite posts I’ve ever written.  Here’s a re-print of the first post from Sparks From The Fire.

The singer stands at the microphone in a recording studio and performs an inspirational song to a beautiful orchestration.  The sound of the voice is picked up by the microphone, run through a cable into a large console which then sends it on to a digital converter which converts all the parameters of the sound of the voice into digital numbers — a series of zeros and ones, which are then stored in a computer to be later reconverted back into the sound of the voice for further usage.

Months later, you or I place the CD in our CD player and listen to the performance.  The laser beam reads the zeros and ones and converts them back into beautiful music.  We are touched, moved emotionally by the inspiration of the singer’s performance.  The music has been captured digitally in strings of numbers, each string a symbol of a pitch, timbre, vibrato, etc.

Pretty heady stuff.  Technical beyond most peoples’ ability to comprehend.  Certainly a mind-boggling concept!

The real question is, “How do the digital numbers capture and then represent the emotion or the inspiration that pours through the singer?”  Are there zeros and ones that stand for joy, sadness, exhilaration, vision?  Does sadness or joy travel through the microphone cable?  Of course not.  So how do these feelings and insights get communicated from one individual to another – across time and space?

Now you might say, “Well, the emotion and the inspiration come through the words and music.”  Very true, but how?  The rise and fall of the melodies, the harmonies, whether major or minor, often represent an exhilaration or a lament.  The way the chords move and work together brings a sense of confidence, peace and harmony or can elicit chaos.  The sonorities and rhythms of music all represent different emotions and energies and when we listen, the music reminds us of these multifaceted feelings that we all experience throughout our lives.

The lyrics too are simply symbols of concepts and ideas assembled and reassembled in multifarious ways — each word, an assemblage of letters symbolizing the sounds of our human language (God, dog, black, white, tree, forest, rich, poor) and on and on.  These symbols, put together into phrases, represent the concepts of our existence.  When intelligently placed within the framework of music, the two, words and music, become a vast matrix of symbolism and with this matrix we communicate on a rich and fascinating level.

So is sadness recorded digitally?  Is the joy of inspiration imbedded there on your CD?  Can laser beams read soul?  Can your speakers waft love into the room?  How do these eternal, timeless concepts travel from New York to Des Moines, Iowa?  From December to May?  From Paul to Samantha?  Can they really be communicated through strings of zeros and ones?  Hardly.

In Truth, there is no time.  There is no space.  We are all one.  We hear these concepts again and again throughout our lives and seldom grasp their meaning.  But art, certainly a higher human form of communication, allows us to begin to envision infinity, eternity, yes, even God.  We look at a Monet painting and feel its peace and presence or we look at Dali’s melting rubber clocks and laugh with surprise.  We contemplate Michaelangelo’s David with awe and appreciation of the grace of human form and for each of us it is a different experience shaped by the experiences of our lives.  We read the poetry of the Bible and are healed, not by the poetry or the words, but by the understanding of the concepts that lie within.  We listen to Samuel Barber’s Adagio For Strings and weep at the struggle of the human soul, but grasp the joy and exhilaration of the music’s spirituality.

Is there peace in Monet’s oil?  Is there magic in the Bible’s words?  Is God in Barber’s music?

Art certainly gives us an insight into the realm of Spirit.  Art can be a doorway.  But the truths do not lie in the oil or reside in the stone or even travel through the cable as zeros and ones.  Truth is eternal, without time.  Truth is infinite, without space.  Man is one, without separation.  God is all in all, without pause.

Art, a higher language of communication, simply reminds us of that which we already know, but somehow have misplaced or forgotten.  It does this through its symbolism — reconnecting us with God’s eternal idea, jogging the human memory and opening up insights into the infinite.  Art can be a tool that reconnects us with our spirituality.  Can art heal?  No, but it can help lead us to the Truth which certainly does heal.  Are we healed by the hymn beautifully sung on our CD?  No, but we are led to the Truth by the symbolism of the words and music, yes even by the zeros and ones.  They are simply a human step in the spiritual process.

So when we listen to the CD and are inspired, or weep with sorrow, or laugh with joy, we, in effect, leap across time and space into the singer’s experience.  We are there with that person in timeless, spaceless communication both exploring together the emotions and inspirations of the moment.  If the singer is inspired, if the song is inspired, if we are open to being inspired, then we all live in the oneness of the infinite now — singer, songwriter, musicians, engineers — connected across time and space through the goofiest of digital technologies — strings of zeros and ones.


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