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Patanjali - A celebration in music and asana DVD & CD

with Michael Kieran Harvey.


A celebration of Patañjali’s Yoga-Sūtra in music and āsana (2015) composed by Michael Kieran Harvey who also plays various keyboards, Arabella Teniswood Harvey (piano) and Eugene Ughetti (percussion).

The trio Patañjali is a musical interpretation of Patañjali’s classical treatise on the yogic understanding of mind and consciousness, as syncretized in Dr von Caemmerer’s book Pieces of 8 — versions of Patañjali’s Yoga-Sūtra.

A catalogue of yoga āsanas (yoga postures) was performed live by Dr von Caemmerer, his tribute to Yogāchārya Sri BKS Iyengar (1918- 2014). Accompanying these āsanas was a trio of instrumentalists performing the score.

The music does not seek to follow any particular fashion, whether it be a post-modern deconstruction of The Yoga-Sūtra or a faithful transcription of Indian music into a Westernised context, but instead is a personal response to the wealth of ideas and structural inspiration inherent in the texts. The stylistic contrasts within the cycle are therefore deliberately extreme.

The interaction within the work between acoustic and electronic sounds is a metaphor of the dominance of the latter over the former in Western societies, and increasingly in developing societies.

The complete text of The Yoga-Sūtra was used as a template for opening out musical possibilities that may or may not be complete in themselves. This idea reflects the multiple interpretational possibilities of the Sanskrit texts into English as evidenced in Pieces of 8. The proportions of the groupings of the sūtras generate the entire musical parameters of the work, from the opening chords to the closing interference pattern. The approach to interpretation of the texts is of constant variation, in the manner of the “hermeneutic circle”, where interpretation and the music itself are in constant exchange, defying definitive resolution.

Central to the understanding of the Yoga sūtras are the following concepts, grouped in fives, which give the composition its formal skeleton of five movements:

1 Five Tanmātra — the infra-atomic potentialities of: smell, taste, sight, touch and hearing;
2 Five Bhūta — the gross and great elements: earth, water, fire, air and space;
3 Five Kośas — the sheaths: structural, physiologic, mental/emotional, intellectual, spiritual;
4 Five Jñãnendriya — the senses of perception: nose, tongue, eyes, skin and ears;
5 Five Karmendriya — the organs of action for: prehension/manipulation, locomotion, communication, generation and excretion;
6 Five Vrittis — the fields of cogitation: valid knowledge, erroneous knowledge, imagination, sleep and memory;
7 Five Kleśas — the sources of affliction: ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion and the fear of extinction;
8 Five “Yogic Vitamins” (Iyengar) — the aids to practice: trust, fortitude, recollection, meditative absorption and insight;
9 Five Yama — the components of external discipline: non-violence, truthfulness, not stealing, moderation and absence of grasping;
10 Five Niyama — the components of internal discipline: clarity, contentment, application, investigation and surrender.

Length: DVD 58 mins // CD 49 mins

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