Exploring the Sounds
an Interview with Nairobi Sailcat
experiencing stuff, looking
for answers. I had some out-of- body experiences so I was asking the
why are we here, where do we come from, what happens
when we die? You know, basically...what's up? I was groping for these
answers when I began to learn about the power of sound and vibration.
How did that happen?
I had an experience where I heard" the sound." Well, I call it
the sound, the ancient Chinese called it "Kung," the Hindus
call it "Om." Some people say it's the voice of God. It's the
sound of everything. It's the most beautiful sound in the universe--it is
the sound of the universe. Anyone who's ever heard it knows what I
mean. It's only one note, but that one note contains every other note
and every other chord possible. The sound exists externally, outside of
us, but you can hear it internally too. It comes form the base of the
brain, the medulla oblongata. You hear it with your inner ear, but it
feels like Love. I don't think it's possible to hear it without wanting
to hear more.
When you say inner ear, are you referring to an internal part, deep
inside the ear, or do you mean something else?
No, what I'm talking about is part of the etheric body like the third
eye or brow chakra. It's "inner hearing." It's called
clairaudience and it functions similarly to clairvoyance. The five
senses can be used like doorways. Everyone has all of these faculties,
but in most of us they're latent.
A moment ago when you mentioned "inner hearing," you said that
it "feels" like love. Do you mean that there are states where
you both hear and feel this sound?
Yes, and see it too. There's a place where everything's everything. This
is hard to explain; it's beyond words. Our instruments can only make
mutilated representations of the sound. Look at it like this, if there's
not a musical instrument or person who can recreate the sound, then
there are no words that can describe the sound that cannot be created.
How did you learn to do this?
I'm still learning, it never ends. I had a loose connection. That refers
to the tie between the physical body and the subtle bodies. That's why I
was able to cross over a few times as a child. But I didn't know what
was actually taking place until I read descriptions years later. I'm
definitely a student; it takes lifetimes to master this. What I mean is,
I know a lot of the principles and doctrines because I've studied them.
I know other things because I've had firsthand experience. I try to pass
some of it on to help others. But, you don't have it down until you can
cross over unassisted, at anytime, anywhere, at will, regardless of the
circumstances. Just through the power of focusing the will.
are lots of ways man has used to do this all throughout history.
Kava-kava, peyote, trance- induced states, mushrooms, sweat lodges,
fasting, the list goes on. The problem with many of these methods is
that they require some sort of physical or external aid or manipulation
which is usually accompanied by physical and karmic side effects. The
safest most efficient way is through service to humanity. By living a
harmless life and serving others, we raise our own vibration. By
elevating our own state, we begin take on the vibration of The Most
You mentioned that you studied a lot. How did you find the books? Where
did you look?
A. Now with the internet it's much easier to find anything. But I'm a Pisces so I'm attracted to the occult. I'm a voracious reader so I started reading everything I could find on metaphysics. Also you have to consider the time and the social climate. I was playing in a band that gigged at The Fillmore a lot, so I was surrounded by people who were asking all of the questions that you weren't supposed to ask. Everyone was searching. What's funny now is when I look back and think about it, the answers weren't important. It was the question, that was the thing, to question the status-quo. Musicians were experimenting with new sounds. Most of it was atrocious but some of it was revolutionary .
when I wasn't working, they'd let me into The Fillmore free, so it was
not uncommon for me to see artists like Ravi Shankar, Pink Floyd, Miles
Davis and Jimi Hendrix all in one weekend. It was an invaluable
education. This was also a very social time and one of the best parts
about visiting someone for me was looking at their bookshelves. You can
tell a lot about a person by what they read. Anyway, friends turned me
on to lots of the things that I was reading. There were also cool
bookstores like the City Lights Bookstore and the Metaphysical
Bookshop--places that prided themselves on stocking the eclectic and the
So what did you read?
Anything and everything. It seemed like someone always had a girlfriend
who did charts or read (tarot) cards. Everyone I knew was into astrology
and eventually I began to ask and read about that too. I read things
like "The Tibetan Book of the Dead," the Kabalah, the I Ching,
books on Theosophy, witchcraft, astrology, numerology, chakras,
Confucianism and Zen, just to name a few. I could go on and on. I would
be easier to ask me what I didn't read.
So it's obvious that without the study of metaphysics you would have
never become involved with this music.
I would have still been a musician, but I definitely wouldn't be doing
what I'm doing now. There are some basic metaphysical concepts that are
recognized universally. Many of them are related to sound and vibration
so there's an immediate attraction. As a musician I had no choice; the
interest and curiosity factors were so high that it was irresistible.
Can you give an example of some of these metaphysical concepts?
For instance, that we are beings possessing a spirit which is infinite
in nature. That the universe and everything in it is in a constant state
of vibration. All is one. Some vibrations are harmonious and some are
not. Because everything is everything (all is one), we can influence the
universe by altering our vibration (and visa-versa). Those are a few of
the most basic concepts. It's not hard to see where music fits in since
music is made of nothing but vibrations.
That sounds exciting. Once you'd learned these concepts, were you
anxious to experiment or make use any of them?
That was years off. Musically, I still had a lot to learn and besides, I
was intimidated and rightly so. No one can really recreate the sound. I
was only 19 when all of this began. I spent a few years gigging on the
road. Eventually, I settled down in New York City. I was writing a lot.
I went back to school to study engineering and synthesizer technology
and later on took a few courses in music theory and composition. I kept
on reading and learning everything I could about sound. I was in no
hurry; my plate was full. Overall, I think that owning my own recording
gear really gave me the biggest opportunity to experiment, create and
try things out. Because for the first time, I could record without
keeping one eye on the clock.
This sounds like a huge challenge--music theory, engineering,
metaphysics...did you ever feel overwhelmed?
Usually I would feel just the opposite. The other normal aspects of life
became an intrusion, a distraction from what I really thought I should
be doing. Over time I've able to balance things out much more. Many
things seem to have become cyclical. I don't think about it that much,
it's just been incorporated into my life.
What about the spiritual side? All of the traditions that you draw upon
for metaphysical knowledge have heavy spiritual legacies. What role does
spirituality play in creating or recording this kind of music?
A. You must prepare yourself. In order for it to be real, you've got to walk the walk. After you study it, after you learn how to do it, you must live it. To a certain degree, you must be it. That's crucial, for me writing and recording are the same thing. I compose as I record. There have been times when I've wanted to record something and for whatever reason, because I wasn't able to center my energy and properly focus, I just didn't even attempt it. Now, having learned that lesson, I prepare much better. I don't begin until my consciousness is properly focused.
Sometimes before I start, I'll meditate or pray. I'm also a vegetarian, and that has an effect. Cleansing the mind and sprit is ineffective if the body is polluted. As musicians we don't really create anything. The music is already there in the ethers; we're only the messengers. We're just trying to hear it, and then play it to you. We're sort of like travelers selling stories of distant lands. We travel to other places where there are wonderful sounds that radiate light and produce beautiful colors. We return and relate our tales of these far away, exotic places. Part of a musician's job is to inform, to show you. We use our instruments to do this. But the piano, the guitar, the horn--these are only secondary. The primary instrument is the spirit. As I said earlier, you must prepare yourself.
Let's change direction a bit and talk more about the specifics of the
music. Where and how did the idea of using sound or music as a means of
A. This is an ancient concept, thousands and thousands of years old. Originally, all music was considered to be sacred. As such, it was confined to the temples because only the high priest or high priestess understood it and subsequently controlled how it was used. Since humanity had only developed to the point where most religions were animistic or pantheistic, the vibratory connection between nature, the cosmos and man was intimate. It's importance can't be over stressed--it was a matter of survival.
who didn't understand the lunar effect on the tides or a farmer who
didn't know which phase of the moon was best for planting or a hunter
who didn't understand the relationship between the solar cycles and
animal migration was at a perilous disadvantage. Although ancient man
was intellectually more primitive, on a psychic level he was in much
closer contact with the spirit world than we are today. Once the power
and effect of vibration in nature was realized, the discovery of its
effect on human beings was not far behind. Eventually, that correlation
was extended to include the cosmos.
What can you say about how or why this music effects people?
Well, this is something else that we've known for thousands of years. It
is based on a scientific principle called sympathetic vibration. Simply
stated, everything in the universe is vibrating. Things that are
vibrating at the same frequency, or in harmony, can affect each other.
That's it in a nutshell.
heard the story of the opera singer who shatters a wine glass by singing
a high note. Assuming the note is of the correct pitch and of sufficient
volume, this is actually a very predictable outcome.
Everyone has a special note called a keynote, which is the combination of all of the sounds that your body makes. Everything has a keynote. In the case of an inanimate object, manipulation of the keynote can reinforce or shatter the object.
In the case of a living being, manipulation of the keynote can strengthen or undermine the health to the point of sickness and even death. It all boils down to understanding the physics or, in this case, the metaphysics involved. Whether it's the intuitive understanding of a shaman or the technical understanding of a scientist, it's irrelevant. Knowing the characteristic actions of the elements involved is the most important thing. Knowing or having the ability to find the keynote of the person or object you wish to effect is also important. It also helps to be a musician so that you can turn these sounds into something pleasing. Music therapists have used music and sound as therapeutic modalities for years.
we use ultra high frequency (UHF) sound for medical diagnosis, treatment
and imaging in ultrasound machines of different types. I think that the
thing that really opened it all up for me was the electromagnetic
It's a chart, showing how fast different groups of electromagnetic waves
vibrate. For example, the only difference between a wave of visible
light, let's say red, and a microwave is how fast they are vibrating.
That helped me to understand that the same thing is true with sound.
Actually, they're interconnected. The only difference between the sound
wave created by an atom in your heart, a door squeaking or Jupiter is
the number of vibrations per second and of course our ear's ability (or
inability) to hear it.
Are there aspects of this music that might sound strange or unusual?
Definitely. The instrumentation is different; I didn't make any cultural
or contextual judgments. So if a djembe and a tamboura sound good with a
gao-hu and a gamelan gong, I play it like that. I don't care if one
instrument is African, Indonesian, Chinese, Indian or whatever. It if
sounds right, I do it. I use samples and computers, acoustic instruments
and digital instruments, I'm not concerned. I use both tradition and
unique thing is that this music is based on "sounds" and the
relationship between frequencies or pitches. The standard idea of melody
and harmony is a secondary issue. Although there is always a message or
meaning when a song is written, usually that message is surrounded by
pleasing notes, chords and harmonies to the point where the medium can
become as important as the message. In the vibrational healing
tradition, the medium is the message.
The notes or
pitches themselves have a greater message than any melody that they may
happen to form. That is one of the reasons that notes are sometimes held
for a long time. I also don't use any standard arrangement references
like verses and choruses. I try to create a very fluid space, a timeless
"here and now" feeling. It's all designed so that the
listeners can lose themselves in the sounds, so that the individual's
keynote can be stimulated and reinforced. When it's approached like
this, listening to music becomes educational. It can become a spiritual
experience. But you can also put it on in the background while you're
washing dishes. How you use it is up to you, it doesn't matter, it
effects you either way. One way it's a conscious thing, the other way
it's on a subconscious level. Having said that, the music has a very
tranquil, soothing quality. It's very peaceful.
Is there a name for this music? How would you classify what you play?
A. Technically, it's folk music. I play a contemporary form of folk music from the sacred tradition. It's called vibrational healing music. Some of it sounds similar to new age, but really it's different. Vibrational healing music comes from a tradition and adheres to certain precepts. It is sound meant for the spirit.
Sailcat is a producer, composer and educator with over 30 years of
experience in the music business. His
credits include the writing and production of music for Sony, Atlantic,
Mercury, Vanguard and CBS Records. In addition to his work for TV and film, Sailcat has written and
produced meditation and yoga videos and CDs for the fitness industry.
Soul Glow Productions has just released his newest CDs,
body and DEEP SPACE, which
are based on the vibrational principles of health and healing and his
lifelong study of metaphysical music.
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