An interview with Chaitanya Deuter by S W Madhunad, made in the late eighties in Pune, India.
When we sent the interview to Chaitanya to ask him for permission to show it in Osho News, he asked us to thank on his behalf all friends who have been so loving and supportive while he was undergoing heart surgery recently. He is now back in Santa Fe, recuperating.
The music is there in the heart. It is always there, it is our very life; it is the stuff we are made of. This is one of the greatest contributions of the mystics to the world. Just as physics has arrived at the conclusion that existence is made of the stuff called electricity, in the same way mystics down the ages, in different countries, unrelated to each other, have always arrived at one conclusion: that existence is made of a subtle music, of sound. […] The whole work of meditation is to move from the noisy head to the musical heart.”
Osho, The Sacred Yes, Ch 18
These were the first words spoken to me by Osho. Ten years later, I am once again blessed to be in India, the ancient land of the mystics. The mist which drifts in from the river is still covering the beautiful gardens of the Sunderban Hotel. It is early morning and the gardeners are watering the lawns and flowers. The street which is lined with old colonial mansions is already filled with people and bicycles and ox carts. The sounds of the day are drifting in through the open windows of the balcony as I begin talking to Chaitanya Deuter about the beautiful play of sound and silence of the musical heart.
You have created so many beautiful pieces of music. Do you have a favorite?
It is always the one I am working on now. When you are working on a piece of music you are in contact with your creative energies. Once I am finished with them, they are kind of like kids. They are on their own – they move out.
How did your music first get published?
When people heard my music, they would say, “This is great stuff, you should get it recorded.” I began playing some concerts, and I made a tape of my music which I sent to a music company in Germany. At this time nobody was recording this kind of music, and through my music, my publisher got into New Age Music.
You used the term New Age Music, which has a certain connotation. Does it describe your music?
Instead of New Age, I would like to call it Vertical Music. The Eskimos have 30 words to describe different types of snow. I would like to have many more words for describing different types and experiences of music. The Greek have two different words for time: chronos, which means the horizontal time, the experience of time as a flow, and the other is kyros, which means the timeless experience of time – full awareness of this moment – the vertical experience of time. I like to experience music as kyros, a vertical experience, each sound full of awareness, full of silence, full of meditation.
You mention silence when you describe your music. Is that an important part of your music?
Yes, I try to make music that comes out of silence and goes back into silence. I am trying to merge silence and music. I like something happy in the music, something of nature. It is not only silence, it is full. It has a lot of heart in it. That silence I try to transfer into music. I am not doing anything, the music just comes through me. That is why I work alone. When I work with other people it is rare that I get into the same spaces as when working alone.
The New Age Market has never been as popular or large as other forms of music. Does that bother you?
I never thought about it. I just did what I felt like doing. When I began playing, no one else was playing this type of music. Since then, the market has become much bigger. It shows me that the music is opening up to more and more people.
Why do you think it is becoming more popular?
More and more people feel we are not in balance. We keep going out, out, out, and there is a longing to go in. Nature always balances itself and ingoing music is one way to help balance this energy.
Do you get a feeling for the people who come to your concerts now?
They are shockingly open. I recently did a concert in Seattle, and they did not want to leave! They just continued sitting in silence. I felt that they got in touch with something, and if they left the room it would be gone. I believe it is a conscious desire to stay in that meditative space.
It has been said that “meditation is inner music and music is outer meditation.” What is your experience?
I see the world as vibrations. Music reaches the closest to silence. Music can get so fine in the frequency of vibrations that it suddenly disappears into silence – into meditation.
How did you learn the technical aspects of playing music?
I never formally learned to play music. I never took music lessons. I just loved music. I took the approach of a child. I played with it until I figured it out. I have a very strong feeling that past lives have a lot to do with it. The music seems very familiar to me. One example is, that in Germany, I had a sitar. No one knew how to tune this instrument. I simply played it all night until I figured it out.
It sounds like you just had a lot of fun. Is this the bliss of making music?
The bliss in music is not making music. The art of playing music is the death of the musician! Instead of playing, I have to listen. After playing for a few minutes, there is a switch from doing to non-doing. I become the listener, not the player. When that happens, something transpires to the listener. In every concert I include a piece on the shakuhatchi (a Japanese bamboo flute often used for Zen meditation), and this is the peak for me. As the music fades into silence, for a few moments we are all one. That’s what I am trying to create in my albums – a few moments of silence.
It has been said that music is a play between sound and silence. Tell us more about how you use silence in your music.
In the world there is a total imbalance between outgoing and ingoing energy; everything is outgoing. I feel there is a shift happening, a longing for more ingoing energy. It is more like I sense something – a tendency to move toward ingoing music, more natural music, and nature has both sounds and silence. That is the experience I am trying to create for the listener with my music.
You have had the experience of being with the spiritual master Osho. What influence did this experience have on your music?
Taking sannyas was the best thing I ever did. I was looking for something to help me get in contact with the inner space – silence – and music was the bridge from sound to silence, from form to formlessness. In the beginning I played music just for myself. After meeting Osho and taking sannyas, I changed, became more meditative. Now the music has a life of its own. Happy music comes, even if I am sad. I just get out of the way. I clear the path so music can come through.
Can you talk about the process you use to clear the path?
The path is the art of listening. You take an instrument and you drop all your ideas of what is possible to play on this instrument. You start playing one note, and you repeat it until you really, really hear it. I learned this with Sufi and Indian music. When you really hear the note, suddenly there is a switch from the horizontal to the vertical music. You either drop it, or you discover the depth of the note, you hear the harmony, the fullness. Once you hear this, you drop the horizontal and move into the vertical. When you move into the vertical, the music plays itself. Then it is fulfilling. One note, by itself, is fulfilling.
There are also many New Age musicians who have also had the experience of being with Osho. Although each one of these musicians’ music expresses their individuality, there is something amazingly similar about the very essence or fragrance of their music. Is this the fragrance of Osho?
I call it ‘la famiglia’, the family. There is an immediate understanding, closeness between the family. When you get closer to the oneness, you find the family. Of course, this comes through in the music. When you move away from the family you move toward individuality, personality, ego. I have a vision of sharing my experience of meditation through music. I used to think I had to entertain with the music – perform concerts. Now I want to set up an energy field where people get a taste of meditation through music. I have been doing this on a small scale in my home in Santa Fe. I am working on a form in which it can happen. I feel it is in the air. It’s coming. It is a matter of just allowing it to happen.
There has been a movement in the public to use a rating system for all forms of music, similar to the rating system for movies, so that parents can decide if their children can listen to certain music. How do you feel about this?
It would just make life for kids more exciting! If they are not allowed to listen to certain music, it would just make it more fun, more exciting.
You may have heard the question and debate, whether society makes the music or music makes the society. How does this relate to the music which is popular in our society now?
Most of the music that is popular now reflects the condition of society, the violence, the degradation of human beings, the heaviness, the insensitivity, the poverty. This simply reflects the unconsciousness of man, and it feeds the unconsciousness of both the musicians and the listeners. Anyone who is playing music consciously is reflecting consciousness, not the society.
One of my personal favorite pieces of your music is Haleakala (the volcano in Hawaii). I have sat on the rim of this crater and meditated at sunrise and I often wondered if you watched the sun rise sitting on the rim of the volcano before you wrote this piece of music.
No, I saw it only after the music was written.
You weren’t supposed to say that!
No, but that is the way it happened. This piece of music took a long time to complete. I could not get it to end. I sang all the voice tracks on this album and many beautiful pieces of music came to me while working on it, but not the ending. It took a long time before it came and meanwhile I was working on other pieces of music.
What are you working on now?
I am working on an album of rhythmical music. Music that has a beat and that touches the different parts of the body. I am experimenting on how to have this and the quality of the heart and silence in the music.
What do you love about your own music?
I cannot listen to music that has no heart in it – music that is just composed with the head. For me it is more important to touch a place inside rather than being technically correct. Some of my pieces of music are technically not 100 % correct. I often play my music several different ways. If it touches someplace inside when I play it again, I try to make a piece of music out of it.
What I really like most about my music – is that it tickles the heart.
May you go with grace to where the music goes…
Music man, friend of mine, playing with life one song at a time.
Music man, friend of mine, playing with songs one note at a time.
Interview taken by S W Madhunad
More about this musician on Osho News