It may seem obvious, but in order to be a Master, one has to let go of everything that isn’t masterly. It’s not always easy, but fortunately this releasing is a natural process that unfolds in each individual’s perfect time, via a path that is unique to each one. Mine was through the music of Count St. Germain.
Music has always been my passion. As a matter of fact, I chose to experience the process of awakening and a major part of the subsequent transformation through it. Years back, I thought that I was just having one professionally-existential crisis after another, but now I know that it all served me as a part of the coming-back-home journey.
A true turning point was the discovery of early music. That opened up a whole new world, with way more potential for being creative. You see, the ‘usual’ classical music scene is very tradition-based, quite rigid and shaped by conventions. There is little performing freedom: you play exactly what is written, in a certain way. Perhaps only a tiny bit more ‘individual’ here and there, a bit better, a bit more in tune. However, I am not particularly good in obeying conventions just for the sake of them. Early music on the other hand, meaning music written before 1800, tries to understand the principles of the performance practice. And these principles not only allow, but ask you to be individual in your execution, and to be creative. Namely, the music score is just a base, and the performer will improvise on this base, add embellishments and the like.
Music is a sensual experience: it should speak, paint, express. Two notes are never equal. The harmony is a mouthful, voluptuous, melting like a piece of dark chocolate. I feel that music in the 18th century still had the understanding of the beauty of true sensuality, or the sensuality of beauty. Discovering this helped me open up to sensual experience as a musician, and as a human.
Improvisation also means being flexible and fluid, being willing to take risks no matter the outcome. It may work out beautifully, but it may also not work out that well. In the beginning, this was a real challenge for me, as I was a horrible perfectionist and, as a consequence, quite a control freak. Neither of which agrees with improvisation or true creativity. Perfectionism and control restricts the flow. But over time, the less judgmental and failure-fearing I was, the more flexible I became, and the more the execution was able to flow! Not to mention, I started to truly enjoy it.
Yes, I love 18th century art, and so, in late 2020, I was very excited to discover violin solos written by the Count St. Germain. We performed one of them in a small event. The music was charming. And then, as we were standing in the parking area, the idea was suddenly there: “Let’s make a recording. Tartini and St. Germain.” For context, Tartini’s music is extraordinarily dear and near to me. So much so, that it has been a lifetime dream to record some of his music. But due to the lack of self-trust, I did not dare to even express this dream! And then, with a gentle push on behalf of St. Germain’s music, the dream was about to be realized. Part of me was freaking out: Really? Are you ready? Are you good enough?? And there was the answer back, coming from deeper within: Will. You. Finally. STOP. Doubting. Yourself?! NOW.
Within a few days, we had a wonderful crew, a harpsichord to use for free, a recording space, time frames set, and a publishing label. It took one phone call and a few emails. It was easy. I was awestruck. The last project of this kind was challenging, to say the least. The result was nice, but I came through it mainly with the good old ‘poor me sacrificing myself for art and my ensemble’ feeling. But THIS time, I was determined to do it differently. With dignity, as a Master.
The start was too good to be true, but afterwards it was not all roses. Oh no. The self-doubt issue was just the tip of the iceberg that would be faced in the following weeks. The biggest paradox was, perhaps, that I decided to record works from a composer who had no trouble receiving gifts or allowing abundance. On the top of it, I wanted to realize the project as a Master! I was very much aware that getting into this project would force me to address some issues for real, not just in theory. Without excuse. In essence, it all came down to the lack of self-worth, and to ‘not being good enough to deserve more than a minimum’ issue. There were some deeply imprinted (and largely ancestral) beliefs to face and to let go. The beliefs, for example, that I always need to work hard in order to deserve something good, that sacrificing and suffering are compulsory, and that putting myself last is a ‘righteous’ attitude. I had trouble receiving gifts. I would rather turn them down, or think I need to immediately give something in return. It felt like a hopeless Abundance Clinic case. Obviously, I very much needed some proper butt-kicking. And I got it.
In order to fund the project, I needed to launch a crowdfunding campaign. Such a campaign can, in essence, only succeed if one creates the environment within oneself for the support to come in, and is willing to receive it. I on the other hand, had as much trouble receiving any help or any support, from anyone, as I wished for the project to succeed. And this mixture doesn’t really work – it is similar to saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’ at the same time. How should the energy react, to ‘yes’ or to ‘no’? It wasn’t exactly fun and I had three weeks of hell – negotiating with myself, procrastinating in releasing beliefs, falling back into self-doubt, coming out again – over and over again. Ultimately, I came through and the campaign succeeded. I won’t claim that all the self-worth issues were cleared during that time, but it was a breakthrough and I released some of the worst garbage.
Finally, I could focus on a delightful part, namely the music itself. Now, the music notation of violin solos is more or less a sketch, rather simple at first sight, as many 18th century sonatas are. But a musical score from that time was never intended to be played exactly as written. It is not like a take-out dinner. Rather, it provides you with basic ingredients, but you still have to cook it yourself and season it well if you want it to taste good. Often, that means you need to add more notes than what is written. I would use my knowledge of the 18th century performance practice as a basic ‘cooking recipe,’ but then feel into the composition and into all that is ‘behind’ the notation itself. The hidden potentials of the piece can truly make the music flourish when they are sensed and brought out to the best abilities of the artist. But, of course, exactly how to embellish the music is another question. No music treatise of further instructions from St. Germain are extant. However, I have found two beautiful (and amusing) descriptions of the Count as a performer, written by his 18th century contemporaries.
On violin playing:
But his play indeed was delightful! The violin in his hands has all the Softness and Sweetness of a Flute, & yet all the Strength of the loudest Strings: his Execution is not of that rapid prodigious kind as Veracini & Geminiani; but his Play is more easy and harmonious & his Excellence is Softness. He piques himself You know upon the Expression of the Passions in his Music especially the tender Ones, & both his Composition & his Manner are almost all Affettuoso; for his music is entirely fitted to his own way of Performing & would be nothing I am convinced from anybody else.
(Letter from Horac Walpole)
And on singing:
He has absolutely no voice, what he sings with is Feign’d, and so low that in a large room is quite lost, yet he will raise it sometimes to Thunder of a Song of Rage as much as he will languish in One of Love: for his Action is still more Expressive than his Sounds. He accompanies himself without Book; & addresses himself in All he has to express to the Company: he frowns & Scorns & Threatens & looks in a Fury when he is to be in a Passion , & is so terribly Soft and & Languishing in his Tender Fits that there is no supporting it. - Woe! be to the Person within the reach of his Eye! for he makes Love so violently that they must have a most Inflexible Contenance to stand it. As he is wholly possess’d by the Part he is Acting, I believe it would be address’d equally to an old Man or a Young Woman who was his next Neighbour, but poor Miss Yorke who happened to be in that Situation, & not much used to be so address’d not understanding what he was saying, would have been very glad to be out of it, & look’s so Embarassée we were not a little diverted. No Fine Lady can stand at his Elbow while he sings, & fancy Herself as a real Object of all that Languishment without its going to her heart.
(Letter from Lady Jemima)
From those descriptions, it was even clearer that we should look for a subtle but expressive and very florid execution. We spent a couple of weeks experimenting and searching, essentially just feeling into the music of Count St. Germain.
With some music, the energy woven into the composition is so strong, or perhaps it resonates with me so much, that it shakes me to the core. Any expression becomes almost a physical experience, be it joy or despair, or anything in between. I may find myself flying with the first movement and my heart shrinking with the second, sometimes to tears. St. Germain’s music is very evocative. I played it many times over a year and a half, and the effect never wore off but stayed consistently strong. It was filled with so much passion, that I felt it in my muscles and body. A sort of energy that is at the same time gentle and grand, and puts me into a very alert and open state of presence. It was such a privilege to discover and play his music.
It has been about a year and a half since these events happened, but I wasn’t able to understand them in a broader context until recently. In musical terms, I finally stopped procrastinating and let go of a self-image I was still holding on to, namely of the eternal apprentice, and was able to stand in front of the microphones with the dignity of a virtuoso. This releasing of long-held limitations led to participation in even more transformative Cloud Classes such as Threshold and Soul Encounters. Those were off my radar when I was still keeping all that trash in my life, becoming an option only after I was willing to dump it.
It is so reassuring to see how everything unfolds in the most appropriate order and speed. I have realized that I don’t need to do anything but to relax and be open to whatever comes next, for I am always exactly where I need to be.
Mojca lives in Basel, Switzerland, where she shares her love for art as a performing musician and dancer. She is passionate about helping people get in touch with their body and breath as a Pilates and breathwork instructor. Mojca can be reached through her website, MojcaGal.com, with more information about her music here.