Bob Marley once sang, “One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain.” For as long as we have been making music, we have been finding unconscious ways to connect to one another. Sometimes, music enables to feel an entire spectrum of human emotion with out speaking a single word. If you would indulge me, I would like to spend a little bit of time discussing one of my favorite instrumental pieces.
It may not surprise you to know that much of what brought my interest to hypnosis was my own struggle with learning to control thoughts. One of the main ways that that difficulty manifested was, as I would attempt to fall asleep, I would struggle to turn my thoughts off. I had no idea how to allow my mind to turn down for the evening until I discovered this one particular performance.
I had heard recordings of John Butler’s “Ocean” before. However, it wasn’t until I heard him play it live that I noticed its power. It’s one of those songs that I’m sure he plays a little bit differently every time he performs it, but I feel it perfectly embodies the term “masterpiece.” It is the wonderful demonstration of his mastery of his instrument. I invite you to listen to it before I go any further.
John Butler often plays in obscure open tunings. It enables him to sustain a persistent drone behind his chord progressions. It also enables him to play his guitar in a more percussive manor, and that’s just how he begins this piece.
Now what’s lovely about the nature of music is that it’s subjective. You may not even particularly enjoy this song. I’m simply sharing what I like about it in hopes that it might inspire you to find a musical piece or even a video that puts you in the right meditative state.
He starts strumming his open chorded 12-string (technically, 11; he takes out one of the G’s), and then begins beating on the strings and body of his guitar while doing hammer-on’s with his left hand (a technique typically known as “air tapping”). This part is important to me because the beat mimics a heart beat in a manor that induces a perfect trance.
After he slows the beat and softens the tone, he begins to softly and nimbly fingerpick his guitar in a manor that takes you to a spring day. He’s agile with his guitar, but he progressively gets softer until he comes to a pause. After this pause, he jumps into a jig.
I confess that being a Southerner with strong Irish roots, hearing a blend of folk and Celtic music always makes my heart a little softer. Just when I’m feeling vulnerable, Butler begins to attack. That’s when the true rise and fall of the song starts. Every time he crescendos he hits harder than the crescendo before, and your emotions just climb and climb.
5:50-6:45 is the moment in the song that it completely overwhelms you. For me, it insights this somewhat victorious bliss that spreads through my whole body and mind. I know it might sound corny, but it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something every time I hold out for the end. That’s what a good song does: it connects to you. It’s only natural that that connection puts you in a bit of a trance.
It’s nice that this piece is long enough to make good background music for a little trance. I hope that this has inspired you to find your own magic song. Just don’t get stuck on YouTube for too long today.