"There's no place like Om"

The Wordless Mantra Form

Fractal Image from the Mandelbrot Set

Over the past several years I have been working on a new compositional form I have come to call the Wordless Mantra. Take the intricacy of a fractal image, blend it with the hypnotic simplicity of repeating syllables, or in this case repeating melodic phrases, and you begin to approach the concept behind the Wordless Mantra.

The beauty of a fractal image emerges from the organic-like interplay of repeating graphic elements, each of which is made up of smaller scale replicas of similar elements, which in turn are made up of yet smaller scale replicas of the same elements, and so on. Together, these “elements within elements” unite to form an intriguing and visually satisfying whole.

In the Wordless Mantra a single repeating melodic phrase in one part is juxtaposed against several other parts consisting of iterations of the same phrase, except that in each new part the phrase is altered in its timeframe, pitch level, tonal color, or some combination thereof. When the various parts are played together a whole new musical texture develops – one that attains an individuality that extends beyond merely the sum of its parts.

Similar to the fractal image, it is the interplay between the various repeating elements that give each piece its character. And like the fractal it is the human intervention with respect to color interpretation that transforms formula into art. As with the verbal mantra, the repetitive quality of the music can easily invoke a meditative or contemplative state in the listener. Thus the Wordless Mantra can be listened to on a number of different levels; intently as one would listen to jazz or classical, or atmospherically as one would with ambient music playing quietly in the background.

Gary Takesian