Janmashtami

This year August 11 is Janmashtami, the celebration of the birth of Bhagavan Krishna in India, about 5000 years ago, in 3,228 BCE. I am sure my Christian friends wonder, ”Why be interested in this?”

I hope most Christians have gotten over the thought “We are right and everyone else is wrong.” God is everywhere, even in places you don’t like, and in people you don’t agree with. I think Christ’s teachings are universally true and beneficial, not limited to people that belong to a particular religion.

Religions look different on the outside. Externally, there are different ways to approach God. But I think when people want to know God, spirit, and make the effort to love God with all his heart, soul, mind, strength, and love their neighbor truly as their selves, I think they will be following the same path, and making similar efforts, no matter what religion they are a part of: Calm the body and mind, go inside, contact the soul, tune in to God’s presence, love, and peace. Then go take that peace and serve your neighbor. Jesus taught this and so did Krishna and many others.

The Bhagavad-Gita is sort of the Hindu Bible. But, unlike the Bible, it is not a collection of letters and writings.it is a single story, or rather a special part of the Mahabharata, the longest epic in India. In the small part of this epic is that is called the Bhagavad Gita, the song of God, or the song of the spirit, the prophet Krishna is advising Arjuna, the good ruler, on the battlefield against the bad guys. The whole thing is an analogy to our daily, inner life. We have thoughts and habits that can lead us in destructive directions. These are the bad guys. If we give into them they can take over our whole lives. So we need to fight against them even though they may seem comfortable, and perhaps appear to be not all that bad. Giving into harmful habits is literally slavery. Habits enslave us. Freedom is the ability to live consciously and make your own good choices. These are the kinds of lessons that are discussed here.

Fight the bad habits. Replace them with good choices so that you are not a slave to habit, but a good ruler over your life. This is the battle of Kurukshetra in the Bhagavad-Gita in the Mahabharata.

I think evangelism today misses the mark. The point is not to change a person’s external religion, but direct their internal focus to spirit. Don’t be greedy for power, position, membership, likes, or ratings; these externals are temporary. Seek the permanent Kingdom of God within yourself and life will be able to work out in its good proper way. This is what I have learned are the messages of Christ and Krishna.

Below is a link to the Yogoda Satsanga Society of India’s article on the Bhagavad Gita and the inner truths that are often missed, especially by Western readers. The goal is not to move people away from Christianity, but to move Christianity toward the inner communion with God that Christ taught, and the value in making the effort, doing the spiritual work to come closer to God.

https://yssofindia.org/spiritual/the_hidden_truths_in_the_bhagavad_gita?utm_source=emailer&utm_medium=click&utm_campaign=20200807

Happy Janmashtami! Happy Birthday baby Krishna.

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Spontaneous Composition

This is the seventh and last of the stories about the WEKEVED Records being released on Thursday, 9/19/19.
Spontaneous Composition came about one day in August of 2012. I was feeling creative, and so set up microphones and started recording some ideas that came to mind. I did one, then another, and another. At the time it didn’t seem unusual. I do lots of improvising in different ways all the time. For church services I might improvise a prelude or postlude. For musical theater, I often improvise transitional music for scene changed. When accompanying ballet classes, it was often a simpler thing for me to improvise music to fit the various exercises, than trying to think of compositions.

So as I was playing and recording that August 1st, back in 2012, I enjoyed being able to just create compositions that could grow and develop on their own, not in reference to a dance or a play. What surprised me was that as I listened and prepared to select, edit and perhaps re-record these for some future project, I found that they were as good as I could do. There were no edits I could find to improve these tracks. And even more astonishing to me, the order seemed to be perfect. I really expected to make many changes; that these were just rough drafts. But as I listened and shared these with others, I decided to leave them as they are.
10 tracks of original music, improvised in order.

At first I called them: Improvisation 1, 2, 3 …But even I could see that distinct lack of imagination that showed. I chose the album title Spontaneous Composition. Then my brother, Keith, helped me come up with more imaginative track titles:

  1. Awake
  2. Dreaming
  3. Shadow Dance
  4. Spontaneous Combustion
  5. Burning Questions
  6. Glowing Embers
  7. Ignite a Spark
  8. Sparks Flying
  9. Stardance
  10. Moonsleep

These pieces may be worth writing out, re-recording, or even orchestrating some day. But for now, they stand as a pleasant memory of a special day. Take the time to listen even just to the one track that will be posted on the web page.

Use the code to get a free album:

freewekevedalbum

Anyone can use it once. Share it with your friends.

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Senior Recital

Senior Recital, 1980. WEKEVED Records.
Most musicians would not want to share their high school playing with anybody. But as I was considering re-recording pieces I had played in my high school years, I found a cassette tape of the recital that my teacher, the late Leigh James Unger, arranged for me to play at California State University, Fullerton, on their new 9’ Steinway grand. And to my suprise, this tape sounded pretty good.

In particular, I had been thinking of the set of dance pieces, “Tanzstücke”, by early 20th century composer German Paul Hindemith. It took me a while to warm up to these pieces that my teacher had assigned me. But their aggressive rhythms won me over, even over the dissonances, and quartal “harmonies.” I had never heard another performance, nor even seen another copy of the music. So recently, I thought maybe I should work these pieces up again, and make a recording of these pieces since there seemed to be none. Then I found my old tape and realized with all the time, concentration and work I put into the whole recital, way back then, in 1980, I played these pieces as well as was ever going to. In addition, now there are plenty of Youtube videos of people playing these pieces.

These are not all perfect performances, but many friends and relatives were there who may enjoy hearing it again. And those of you who want to hear me playing something “completely different”, here is your chance. It was a good start to my piano playing life. And so it will be available starting 9/19/19.

TRACKS:

  1. Prelude and Fugue in C min – J.S. Bach Sonata in C. Op. 2, No. 3 – Beethoven
    1. Mvt.1 – Allegro con brio.
    2. Mvt.2 – Adagio.
    3. Mvt.3 – Scherzo – Allegro
    4. Mvt.4 – Allegro assai
  2. Etude Op. 25 No. 7 – Chopin
  3. Bethena – Scott Joplin
  4. American Beauty – Joseph Lamb
  5. Waltz in G minor – Kevin Weed Tanzstücke for piano Op. 19 – Paul Hindemith
    1. Tanzstücke 1
    2. Tanzstücke 2
    3. Tanzstücke 3
    4. Pantomime – Tanzstücke 4
    5. Tanzstücke 5
  6. The Cascades – Scott Joplin
  7. End space
    Approx. 58 minutes total.
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Patriotic Piano

WEKEVED Records’ Patriotic Piano, came about as I wanted to share unique arrangements of well-known songs of the USA with friends here and abroad. As an accompanist, I focus on helping the singer(s) sound good. Here, I wanted the piano to speak for itself. Our Fourth of July, Memorial Day and many other dates call out for our patriotic songs. Sometimes an instrumental version is a welcome part of a ceremony, or personal day of reflection. Sing along if you wish.

  1. America The Beautiful
  2. America (My Country ‘Tis Of Thee)
  3. Battle Hymn Of The Republic
  4. God Bless America – Irving Berlin.
  5. Armed Forces Medley
  6. Yankee Doodle
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Droplets

WEKEVED Records presents “Droplets.”
“Droplets” is a different kind of album. It is a set of improvisations on themes, moods, characters and situations presented in the play The Diviners by Jim Leonard, Jr. The thought was to give directors some incidental music to use during a production of the play.

For more information on the play, see the Sam French web site:
https://www.samuelfrench.com/p/693/the-diviners

Here is an in-depth look at the track list for this album:

  1. Overture-Zion, Indiana; pop. 40 – An Overture is a nice way to give the audience an idea of the music, instruments, and overall sound to expect for the coming performance. Consider The Sound of Music, or Jesus Christ, Superstar. The sound of the pit orchestra of these two productions is very different. And the overture helps the audience be in tune with what is going to be heard all evening. Click here to hear this overture in a slide-show of Newport Harbor High School’s 2011 production.
  2. Amazing Grace – on the Mountain dulcimer. The script calls for this. The simple tune, on a simple instrument.
  3. The following tracks generally refer to situations and moods that happen during the play. Buddy is afraid of water, having nearly drowned at a young age. But also, he can find wells, as a diviner, and predict the rain.
  4. Morning
  5. Country Waltz
  6. Birds and Angels
  7. Rain Drops
  8. Empty
  9. Panic
  10. Storm
  11. Echoes
  12. Moonlight
  13. Strength
  14. Hymn – Shall We Gather At the River. The script calls for a group to sing this near the end of the play.
  15. Evening

So look for the release on 9/19/19.

And use the code freewekevedalbum to get a free album.

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Celtic Piano

From WEKEVED Records, “Celtic Piano” is a solo piano album of music from Ireland and Scotland, and similarly styled tunes. I have always liked the jigs and reels, on penny whistles, fiddles and bagpipes. While I will admit that the piano lacks the lightness and charm of the traditional folk instruments, I am principally a pianist, and so I enjoy making my own piano versions of these tunes.

You will recognize the songs “May It Be” and “Into The West” from the “Lord of the Rings” movies. I have accompanied choirs many times singing beautiful arrangements of these songs.

The first tune on this album I call Winter’s Dance. It is a slip jig, in 9/8 time, traditionally a graceful, soft shoe Irish dance. This recording was made to be the correct tempo for Irish dancing.

The last song is “Song for the Mira” by Canadian songwriter, Allister MacGillivray. I was touched by the interest that Allister and his wife, Beverly showed in this recording. They collect versions of Allister’s songs from around the world and said that out of hundreds of versions, they think only 2 have been arranged for the keyboard.

The other tunes on this album are very popular songs and instrumental tunes, but in original piano solo versions.

Here is the complete track list:

  1. Winter’s Dance – by Kevin Weed
  2. Irish Reels-Music in the Glen, The Dunmore Lasses, The Banshee
  3. The Butterfly – Irish slip jig.
  4. Planxty Fanny Power – Song by the blind Irish harper, Turlough O’ Carolan.
  5. The Fields of Athenry – Pete St. John’s touching song.
  6. Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go? – Scottish air
  7. The High Reel/Star of Munster
  8. May it Be – by Enya, Nicky Ryan, and Roma Ryan, from “Lord of the Rings,”
  9. Into the West – by Annie Lennox, Fran Walsh, and Howard Shore. from “Lord of the Rings.”
  10. Londonderry Aire – famous melody used for many songs.
  11. Jigs – St. Patrick’s Day, Brian Boru’s March, Garryowen
  12. Song for the Mira – by Canadian songwriter, Allister MacGillivray.
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Bagpipes at NHHS

Another of the WEKEVED albums to be released 9/19/19 is “The Great Highland Bagpipes in the Inner Courtyard of Newport Harbor High School”, or just “Bagpipes at NHHS”.
I got the idea when the building was slated to be torn down. Being an enclosed courtyard, I wondered how bagpipes would sound in it. I liked it, even with wind noise, planes and birds. If you remember this old inner quad, it will sound familiar.

This album is just the bagpipes alone, with no other accompanying instruments.

Along with traditional tunes are some original ones, like Wedding Processional, which I expanded later into a piece for organ and pipes, for a friend’s wedding. On this album is just the pipes.

The tune MacGregor’s Salute is what we call a piobaireachd, or ceòl mòr, big music. It is from the classical music of the Highland pipes. It has a slow melody on which variations are composed. At a length of 8:34, it is shorter than many piobaireachds. This is a slow and thoughtful tune.

The last set of tunes are meaningful to Newport Harbor High School, including their Alma Mater and Fight song (Anchors Aweigh).

So there is a little introduction to Bagpipes at NHHS that will be available starting 9/19/19.
And here is the track list:

  1. Traditional March, Strathspey & Reel: 4:13
    Pipe Major John Stewart, Cabar Feidh,
    The Piper and the Dairymaid
  2. Piobaireachd: MacGregor’s Salute anon. c. 1815 8:34
  3. Music for Wedding: 4:24
    Wedding Processional – by Kevin Weed
    Skye Boat Song – traditional
    Joyful March – by Kevin Weed
  4. Two airs by Kevin Weed 3:37
    Spirit of Peace
    Highland Air
  5. Hornpipe & Jigs by Kevin Weed: 3:52
    Newport Harbor Sailor’s Hornpipe
    Fishermen and Fisherwomen
    The Pelican. These titles come from the inner courtyard mosaics.
  6. Amazing Grace Variations by Kevin Weed 7:04
  7. Songs for Newport Harbor HS: Hail, Harbor High!, 3:02
    Anchors Away, Marine’s Hymn, Scotland the Brave.
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Clementi Sonatinas

Here is a little about set of Clementi pieces I recorded this past summer. I recorded the Six Sonatinas, op. 36, by Muzio Clementi because I liked them, and it was good for me to record a whole classical album.

There are many challenges. Over the many days or recording, I have different feelings about tempo and other considerations. That process of choosing and editing you can only learn by doing it. However, one decision was made for me, the order of the tracks. I just recorded them in the order of the publication.

One movement is titled, Air Suisse. I don’t really know what this Swiss Aire would sound like. Is it a song? A traditional folk tune? For alphorns? So I had to make my own choice. This is often an important part of classical music. The composer gives as much as he/she can. Then we also have years of traditions of performance that have grown around the pieces. But ultimately the performer chooses how he will express the piece, which is why performances can sound so different, and why we value hearing many performances of any given piece. Older compositions have time to morph into something quite different from the original. Perhaps Air Suisse was a common style to 18th century Italians, being a speed and rhythm they would have heard many times. But now we have to make an educated guess.

My favorite is number 4. I suppose the drone in the beginning sounds a little like a bagpipe to me!

Look for this along with the other WEKEVED Records starting 9/19/19

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WEKEVED Records

I am starting a “Record Label” called WEKEVED Records. I put that in quotes because most of us think of an LP label. Or even physical CDs.

Sorry this will be neither, but downloadable albums. Albums as in a collection of high quality mp3 files, like tracks on an LP, only digital. And instead of using a record or cd player, they play on a computer, phone, or other mp3 player.

But if you know (or learn) how to buy music online, and download the tracks, then you can enjoy WEKEVED Records.

I thought some of you might enjoy hearing some thoughts about the WEKEVED recordings. I’ll post some stories about why each album was recorded and what it means to me. Seven “albums” will be released on 9/19/19:

  1. Patriotic Piano
  2. Celtic Piano
  3. The 6 Clementi Sonatinas, op. 36
  4. Bagpipes at Newport Harbor High School
  5. Spontaneous Composition, 10 Improvisations
  6. Droplets – solo piano inspired by the play, “The Diviners.”
  7. My 1980 Senior Recital

Remember these are “downloads.” 

Not vinyl, nor CDs. Not yet anyway. Yes, “album” always meant an LP vinyl record in the past. Here, it is a collection of recordings usually with a common purpose or thread of thought. 

As medical records are the records of you medical history and work, WEKEVED Records are the records of my work; in a digital form for now. 

So for now, WEKEVED Records won’t play on your record player. 

Look for future stories; and new albums in the future!

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The way to freedom

Paramahansa Yogananda moved to the United States of America from his homeland of India in 1920. He respected and loved this country very much. And he appreciated the freedoms that are enjoyed here. He greatly admired Abraham Lincoln as a great soul. He rejoiced when India won it’s independence from England and, in his way, he worked for civil rights in this country. But more important than political freedoms, he recognized the bondage an individual can cause himself by being too attached to things and ideas. We create a magnetism that can steer us in the wrong direction. And it takes an act of will to move in a new and better direction.

So he taught:

“Freedom means the power to act by soul guidance, not the compulsions of desires and habits.”

I have heard ministers say the same thing: Freedom is not doing what you want, but what you should do.

Yogananda has more specifics to add: “Before you act, you have freedom, but after you act, the effect of that action will follow you whether you wanted to or not. That is the law of karma. You are a free agent, but when you perform a certain act, you will reap the results of that act.”

And: “Man’s freedom is final and immediate, if he so wills; it depends not on outer but inner victories.”

Of course the great focus of Yogananda was to teach the techniques of meditation. So he said:

“The way to happiness is through meditation and being in tune with God.” Which sounds to me like “Love God with all your heart, and soul.”

But after all that is said about freedom, fighting for it, sacrificing for it, defending our country for it, passing laws to insure it, I think one of Yogananda’s most thought provoking ideas about freedom is this:

“The way to freedom is through service to others.”

Which I think might be related to: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The yoga master showed us the way to personal freedom from enslaving attachments. But maybe political freedom could be won and protected through service to others. It’s worth a try.

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