- THE STORIES BEHIND THE CREATION OF THE MUSIC
The creation of NOVUS MAGNIFICAT THROUGH THE STARGATE
A Grammy nominated album that has been dubbed, "The Mozart Requiem of our age," and "One of the greatest musical works of our time," was composed in 1985, and released by Hearts of Space in 1986. At the time it was considered to be "the standard for the use of electronics against which future New Age albums should be judged." Composed on the EMULATOR II, one of the first digital sampling synthesizers available, the orchestral samples were formatted onto floppy discs. The EMULATOR was then midi'd up to the Roland Juno 60 for arpeggiated effects and enhanced sounds.
From the Composer:
"I remember the moment, right after Sacred Space Music was completed in 1982, when I began hearing this music inside my head. Little did I know at the time that "Novus Magnificat" was starting to enter my field. I had never composed a symphony or worked with an orchestra or chorus before, and began by making sketches on a little four track cassette porta-studio. Meanwhile, I was hearing the most incredible music playing inside my head and had no idea how I would duplicate this other dimension, how I would pull it through and get it onto tape in this dimension. For what I heard inside my head made me think, "how in God's name am I going to duplicate this?"
Once the recording studio was put together, it was somewhat intimidating, as I had never operated recording gear before, nor a digital sampling synthesizer, or done a symphonic work with the kind of orchestration I was hearing. The moment had finally arrived, but each time I hit the record button, my inspiration would freeze. Where had all the music gone? Why had my muses deserted me at the supreme moment? I was alone with the equipment and paralyzed with fear. Eventually I got through this phase by recording some silly comedy music, it opened the gateway, and the music began pouring through. Ha!
Nothing was ever written or scored to paper, except some ideas on orchestration, and a general direction of the journey and the emotions we were to explore. Different instruments, for example, were to represent various emotions, such as the Cello, which was to represent the searching, yearning heart, while the Bassoon was to represent the Higher Self, which was in a more exalted positioning that no longer required searching or yearning, it simply knew. It's job was to "answer" the questions the Cello was asking, a conversation heard in the opening sections of Novus. The choral sections were to represent the most inspired moments, other dimensions would come from the electronic effects, and so on.
With no real preconceived plan, I would simply sit down at the keyboards, and the music would begin. The years of classical training definately played their part in this composition. I recorded onto a Tascam 16-track, half-inch tape recorder, usually starting a new track with strings to lay down the chordal changes and the "bed," Then came the cello, violin, basson, french horns, chorus, harp, tympani. As it unfolded, I was mystified by the process. At one point, I composed a cello duet section, and later couldn't remember recording it, an example of "getting out of the way," or what one might call the inspired state of the artist when they are overtaken by energies larger than themselves.
Since I worked out the music in Novus in small sections that would later be cut and pasted together, I never had the opportunity to hear or have the complete picture of the journey we were to go on until the mix was done seven months later. It was like getting one piece of the puzzle at a time, and I had to surrender to trusting the process, let "it" take over, and not question why or how. I learned what the "leap of faith" required. When it was completed, film composer Michael Stearns ("Baraka") added another dimension of special effects with his magic touch.
During the time that it took to bring all the music through, I had unusual experiences with nature energies and paranormal energies that continued to surround me as the music poured through. Often nature would indicate to me with various occurences that something big was going on. Vortices would follow me on walks, horses on the hill outside my home would suddenly gallop at the precise moment a huge breatkthrough had occured. Birds and Rainbows would appear just as we entered the Stargate sections. Hundreds of thousands of leaves fell onto the stage as I was announced and walked on. (which I didnt even see or notice as it was happening behind me...) When we were in the studio mixing Novus, incredible stuff used to happen. A huge electrical storm, ONLY over the area of the studio occured when we mixed the big climax on side one. The machinery was continuously acting strange. At one point the huge piece of two inch tape with the master recording was mangled underneath the tape head, almost ruining that section. I freaked! as you cannot imagine what it would have taken to recreate it all over again.
The mixdown was overseen by Warren Dennis Beggars Banquet Studios, Stephen Hill Hearts of Space, Co-Producer Anna Turner Hearts of Space, and myself. We had my sixteen tracks, combined with Michael Stearns tracks on an additional tape recorder, and some pretty complicated moves to make on the console, as only part of the mix could be automated at the time. The heart of the mix, a massive affair with four people on hand, two tape recorders, and more than 24 tracks, was a hands-on realtime mix that became quite an adventure. Unexplained phenomena continued to occur in the studio, with comments from the engineers like, "This has never happened before. The equipment has never done this before" etc. At one point, we were considering printing T-shirts that announced, "I survived the Novus mix!"
The release of this album in 1986 by Hearts of Space was a turning point both in my career and for Hearts of Space and their new label. The album got the attention of the music industry and was nominated for a Grammy. Novus began as a cassette recording, as when it was released, we didn't even have CDs yet. Since then, I have received countless letters from fans telling me what they've experienced with the album. Each letter has deeply touched my heart. A few excerpts:
"utterly mind-boggling; --haunting, scary, beautiful, terrifying, awesome, intimate, spectacular; --shook me to the core; --staggering intensity; --monumental; --activates and energizes each meridian and energy center; --the closest thing to a religious experience that I have ever experienced; --an encoded depth potential which might be infinite; -- I am alive and successful today, writing this due to the kindling of inner strength which this work fosters."
THE STORIES BEHIND THE ORIGINAL COVER ART
for NOVUS MAGNIFICAT
CREATED BY GEOFFREY CHANDLER
In 1986, Geoffrey Chandler was commissioned by Hearts of Space to paint the cover art for Novus Magnificat. He set about his task, and just as he was tuning in to the energy of the music to create the cover art, the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded with seven individuals on board.
Geoffrey's first attempt was an extraordinary image, but it never ended up as the cover art for Novus. The reason was, as he began his painting, it appeared he had somehow taken a detour into the universe of the explosion of the Challenger.
He painted a powerful explosive event in cosmic space. We all loved the painting, but we all also knew that it wasn't Novus. Geoffrey had to go back to the drawing board and start again. I consoled him with a statement something like "Dont worry, your doubled efforts will be rewarded, somehow. I don't know how, but they will." He came back to us later with the incredible image that had tuned in so deeply and profoundly to the very heart and spirt of the music in this album; a Great Light in the cosmos,
with other lights going towards it seeking to merge with it. Later, the first painting he had created, entitled "Stargate,"ended up on the cover of OMNI, and another painting, entitled"Supernova 1987-A," ended up on the cover of TIME. We all told him "Geoffrey youcan't get any better than being on the cover of TIME!"
One day I turned on the TV to discover that the Columbia Space Shuttle with seven astronauts aboard had just exploded. I looked at the TV screen, then I looked at Geoffreys painting, the first version of the cover of NOVUS MAGNIFICAT, and was stunned. I felt like I was in a time/space warp
The Catastrophe of the Space Shuttle Columbia
A Speculation on Cause and Purpose
Interestingly, the Mission Patch the astronauts wore, with a symbol depicting going through an apparant stargate. And of course there are moments in Novus Magnificat - Through the Stargate, where you go thru the stargate, an explosion of consciousness, propelling one into another universe, another dimension.