As a practicing Buddhist and acoustic finger-style guitar player, Clarelynn Rose has explored the concept of ‘Guitar Dharma’ as a result of discovering that many of the principles of the Buddhist practice that she has learnt over the years can be directly applied to the art of musical performance and composition.
Clarelynn freely admits that
Playing guitar, for example, often gives me the same centered, grounded feeling as meditation.
Guitar playing was my first meditation, which I only realised after starting formal meditation practice and immediately recognising the feeling as that which I got when playing guitar.
Most musicians will recognise this semi-transcendent state that playing music can place them in but it is a quality that specifically lends itself to the playing of a stringed instrument such as the acoustic guitar.
Meditation and Music
On her 2015 album “Offerings: Guitar Meditations”, which is a compilation from three previous CD releases, Clarelynn Rose shows how she integrates the twin practices of natural spirituality and music.
Clarelynn Rose reveals details of her approach to music by saying that;
For me, the spiritual and musical paths have been inextricably linked. In composition, I tend to write from intuition, relying on the heart rather than the head. It's much like meditation, becoming quiet and receptive to something other than the monkey mind. It's also a very organic process, dependent entirely on what sounds good to my heart and ear, rather than following set patterns and rules.
Just the titles of the tracks on “Offerings: Guitar Meditations” presents the listener with a clear indication of the sort of natural environments that inspires Clarelynn to compose her work.
Her piece, ‘Song of Putuo Mountain’, which is featured on this CD, is also an example of her spiritual influences being based, as it is, on a traditional Buddhist chant. The full track-listing is as follows;
- Lake Oswego Moon
- King Yama's Mirror
- Rain Forest Rain
- Green Heron
- Song of Putuo Mountain
- Night Tide
Free sample downloads of Clarelynn Rose’s guitar music can be found at Heartwood Music.
Our Review of ‘Offerings: Guitar Meditations’ by Clarelynn Rose
Approaching this album for the first time, and this was my initial introduction to the music of Clarelynn Rose, made me realize that my desire to experience it as a structured and literal set of recordings was simply not going to work.
I soon realised that this CD, much like a fine wine, is not meant to be merely 'consumed' but has to be slowly and respectfully savoured for its subtleties and nuances.
So, having swapped my cheap earbuds out for a set of higher-quality pair of headphones - which, as I later found out added significantly to my enjoyment of this CD, I sat back and allowed the music to communicate the essence of the spirit of the performer to me.
From then on I was hooked!
The finger picking technique of Clarelynn Rose is difficult to accurately categorise being that it is somewhat inclusive of a number of different styles.
Some of these are immediately recognisable as traditional folk, Spanish and classical in origin but clearly there is also an essential uniqueness to the fabric of Clarelynn Rose's music that is an extension of the spirit of the artist herself.
The compositions on this CD reflect this uniqueness with each track displaying a subtle range of essential tonal qualities - due mainly to the different types of tuning that Clarelynn uses.
With lowered bass string tuning used on some of the tracks on this CD the compositions resonate to create a richer range of sound than is usual the case and this effect is most notable in the tune ‘Asea’ where I felt as a listener that these alternative tunings allow Clarelynn Rose a much wider sense of aural landscape through which to best express her musical ideas.
In the track ‘Pacific’ - one which, to my mind, sounds to be of the most technically challenging on the whole CD, expresses itself most succinctly with phrasing that simply expresses the rolling waves of the ocean to great effect.
Other notable compositions on this CD have to be the dramatic and colorful opening track ‘Lake Oswego Moon’ which captures the sense of lunar light, and ‘Rain Forest Rain’ which, once again, carries within its melody that same elemental connection to the life-force.
All in all, I found listening to ‘Offerings: Guitar Meditations’ a delightful and sensory all-consuming sensory experience.
In ‘Offerings: Guitar Meditations’ Clarelynn Rose achieved her goal of featuring a series of sonic meditations which, upon subsequent listening, revealed deeper and even more transient qualities. This is in every way a CD that elevates the soul and celebrates life.