The Song of Creation
“In the beginning was the word…” and so begins one of many accounts of The Creation wherein the fabric of the cosmos is woven by the voice of God. All world peoples from the Aborigines of Australia to the Zulu of Zimbabwe describe the beginning of the universe through sound: The totemic beings weave the Songlines across Australia; The Chameleons of Yemen and Madagascar sing into the primordial forest to bring the world into existence; the Quiché Mayan Popul Vuh tells of the Guacamatz – the givers of light, who consult, and while they speak their deep understanding brings forth the dawn. They speak about the forests and about the nature of life; how the waters will flow and how crops would be sown – and these things appear from their words. In the first hogon of the Glittering World, the Holy People of the Diné sing the Blessing Song from which creation emerges; and for the ancient Sumerians, the power of creation consisted primarily of the divine word. “All the creator had to do was make his or her plans, utter the word, and pronounce the name” – a pronouncement echoed in the Koran, explaining that Allah need only to say “Be” and It shall become – dispelling any doubt one might have in divine miracles.
The acoustical creation of “All That Is” is implied in the word “universe” from the Latin “one verse” (a verse being a complete turn or complete idea drawn through a line of a poem). The word poesis from which this poetry derived is from the Greek for ‘creation.’ Even our most advanced theories of the birth of the universe start with a Big Bang…
Sound gets stuff done. It is the perfect force for the Gods to wield, making the divine manifest in physical form. The universality of this idea is spawned by the dual nature of sound as both ethereal and visceral, and supported by our experience of the radical transformations that occur by way of sound energy. Energy borne on the wings of sound can work us on a multitude of levels; from the cognitive to the subconscious; from the emotional to the physical. It is integrally woven into our experience of the sacred, wielding profound power to affect us, while remaining something that we cannot grasp, are unable to see, and does not seem to affect the objects that surround us.
Sound needs to impinge on a living being to take effect, and the consequences can be deeply moving. Reaching into the depths of our own souls, it can instantaneously propel us to ecstasy or devastate us into dark depression. The compass of sound’s influence can be vast enough to unify nations, though its effect may also be so individually focused that the very sound that you find thrilling may cause my sadness – and then just go unnoticed by someone else.
Entirely engaged in the world of sound, we have few provisions to stop it from affecting us; by the time we plug our ears to prevent an unwanted sound from reaching us, we already know the meaning it bears. The only way we can effectively prevent sound from influencing or affecting us is by making sound that is louder, more provocative, or more beautiful – creating our own acoustical world. So it is by way of sound that we too may become creators and exercise a prerogative which continuously suggests that by ‘singing creation,’ we, like the Gods can manifest the divine and create our own world.
In this chapter we will explore how and why we sound into our surroundings; affecting change and co-creating an environment that resonates with our needs – a common trait that we share with all sounding beings.