|“Bach taught me that.”
This comment came from Gary Takesian as he pointed out
to me a musical component of his new album Aqua Afternoon.
After studying four hundred years worth of music, and
making music for four decades, 2005 seemed like a good
year to put out a debut album.
A classically trained musician, Gary studied organ, composition,
and electronic music at the University of Southern California.
His senior organ recital included works by Bach, Messiaen,
Franck, and one of his own compositions for organ and
electronically prepared tape.
He also played in a rock and roll band and could handle
any of the keyboard parts for any Doors song.
After college came the period of working with computers
during the day and synthesizers and sequencers at night.
The early Moog modular synthesizers fascinated Gary. These
were the days of analog synthesis, dominated by knobs,
dials, and patch cords. He spent time at Sound Arts
in Los Angeles, an electronic music studio founded by
synthesizer pioneer, Paul Beaver. At that time Paul had
assembled the largest known Moog modular synthesizer consisting
of 12 of the classic black Moog boxes.
At Sound Arts Gary studied electronic music with
composer Dan Wyman who did synthesizer work for, among
others, Stevie Wonder. Gary went on to perform with Dan
and the Los Angeles Electronic Music Quintet, which
also included Len Sasso, David Johnson and Darell Sauser.
The LAEMQ performed cutting edge electronic music
at colleges and other venues throughout Southern California.
All the while that Gary was performing he continued to
compose his own music. His creative spirit has led him
across many musical areas. As an intellectual exercise
in whimsy, he wrote an organ fugue in the style of Bach
based on the old Alka Seltzer “Plop-plop-fizz-fizz”
TV commercial. He titled it, Fugue on a Theme by Al
On a more serious note he has scored two plays staged
by director, Elaine Vaan Hogue, of Boston University.
Angels in America: Part 1 debuted in February of
1997. Four years later, again with Vaan Hogue, he did
the music for Infinity’s House, a production
at Boston’s Majestic Theatre in association with
Beginning in the early 1990’s, Gary started to
work with MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface)
which brought together the worlds of his computer day
job and his passion for music. Finally the computer and
synthesizer had joined together as a compositional and
In his “tinkering” with MIDI Gary hit on
a compositional form that was unlike any he had encountered
before. It was something like a fugue and something like
a round but very different from either. He has dubbed
the new form, the Wordless
Mantra because of its use of repeating
musical phrases. The melodic lines are juxtaposed against
each other at different pitch levels and instrumentations
to form a constantly evolving sonic texture. It is truly
a case of the whole being greater than merely a sum of
The first complete work in this style became Morning
Meditation. Originally created as background music
for a guided meditation, Gary developed Morning
into its present form to use as his own personal meditation
music. He discovered that the Wordless
Mantra form held enough interest for him
to be able to listen over and over without it becoming
stale. Encouraged by this, Eurasia and Orbiting
soon followed. Then in November 1999, while gazing
out at the surfers in Waikiki, Gary penned the initial
sketches for Aqua Afternoon. Perhaps it was the
majestic view from the 25th floor balcony, or simply the
joy of being on vacation that lead to the rich, jubilant
feel of Aqua Afternoon.
Over the next several years, Gary shared the Wordless
Mantras with family and close friends,
with no real intention of formally releasing them to the
world at large. It wasn’t to be until December of
2004 when his close friend, and soon-to-be producer/engineer
John Yeamans (that would be me), insisted that these pieces
needed to be introduced to a larger audience. Gary then
agreed to produce a commercial release of Aqua Afternoon
as his debut album.