...Composer, Musician and Recording Engineer...
Released November 4, 2014
With this eighth solo release, innovative guitarist and composer Stevin McNamara continues his musical journey, inspired by the music of North India, with twenty full-length ragas offering over two hours of music. He selected from over fifteen years of favorite compositions to cull this collection, which is expressly designed as a refreshing musical backdrop for various modes of relaxation. McNamara’s original pieces, including several previously unreleased compositions, are accompanied by beautiful, healing beds of sound created by renowned sound healer and master drummer Christo Pellani.
These pieces are not “real” ragas in the classical Indian sense, although they are inspired by them and contain their key elements; they are more exactly versions of the Alap (introduction) sections, where ragas are first presented with melody only, i.e., without rhythm and a theme in a time cycle.
This soundscape forges a bridge into the dream state and beyond, taking the listener into peaceful and deeply relaxing places. The melodies of each raga, passed down through many ages, are known – when played correctly – to invoke certain emotional states, e.g., love, devotion, longing, peace and joy. McNamara says, "I am often asked what drew me to Indian classical music in the first place. My answer is, the profound and obvious connection that this music has to the Divine. Hear any master musician from those old lineages/gharanas play just a few notes, and something inside stirs with an age-old longing. To me, this inner feeling is the soul yearning for its source.”
“Once I started to actually immerse myself in and study the music, I discovered that so many ragas are based on the rasa – or mood – of longing. I also learned that the early roots of Indian music are steeped in devotional practices going back to Vedic times. The ancient yogis, through deep meditation, were able to raise their consciousness to a level where they could see the inner workings of creation and how music could color the mind. They created powerful musical entities based on combinations of notes that are now known as ragas. There is the old saying, Nada Brahma: Sound is God. Also The Sound of God.”
Another thing that impressed McNamara in his explorations was that Indian music, like other high art, can only be learned from one who has learned and mastered the knowledge directly – and has become a living expression of that knowledge. Hence has the guru/shishya – teacher/student – tradition endured over so many ages in India. McNamara found such a teacher in the late Ram Das Chakravarty, of Benares, who was a disciple of Amiya Gopal Bhattacharya of Sensai Gharana. “There is no other way to learn this music or any other higher practice, including spirituality…this type of music or any other expression of a higher consciousness requires a way of life that is in sync with what one is attempting to achieve. For the last 45 years, that for me has meant being aware of the needs and struggles of others, love and kindness to all living beings, and daily meditation.”
This bliss-inducing collection of music reflects this philosopy and ethos of McNamara’s – to be in touch with and to honor the One who has created the music in the first place, and to share that feeling with the listener.
Stevin McNamara has been playing and recording music for over 40 years. He is in the unique position of being an accomplished Composer, Musician and a Recording Engineer. This gives him total freedom in any music/recording environment.
Born in South Africa, Stevin started learning piano and guitar at the age of seven. He played solo and in bands all the way through high school. At the age of twenty one, Stevin moved to the United States, where he had more formal training at Berklee College of Music in Boston Mass. He has been involved in music ever since.
Although Stevin grew up with the sounds of African music, he also discovered Indian music in the early seventies and studied the sitar with Ram Chakravarty of Benares who was then professor of music at Wesleyan College in Connecticut. This diverse exposure to such a broad spectrum of music, ranging from world to pop has contributed to the unique musical style he has developed over the years.
In the late seventies, after spending considerable time as a session musician in recording studios, Stevin became fascinated with what was happening on the "other side of the glass", namely the recording process itself. This passion developed into a highly successful career as an audio engineer.
He has worked in the fields of popular music world, folk, jazz, film and television in top studios in South Africa, England, and the United States. He is perfectly at home in any state of the art recording facility, or live sound scenario, even at stadium concert level. He is qualified to teach audio engineering at college level.
Stevin has worked with well- known producers such as Robert John "Mutt" Lange and a huge spectrum of recording artists (see Artist List) - from Paul Winter to Tina Turner- from Bryan Adams to Zakir Hussein.
He now lives In Ashland Oregon where he spends his time doing freelance recording, original music production, live performances and organic gardening.