Tarshito - Biography of an exeptional musician
”Music is the ultimate artform. It is the only one of the major artforms one can enjoy outwardly and innwardly either with eyes open or closed. For me it is expression, an outlet for my creativity, a way of communicating both with musicians and listeners, a way to have fun, a way to be social, a way to be alone, the ultimate meditation and one of the most powerful healing modalities. I'm a composer so I enjoy the act of creating and producing a musical work, but it's all just to arrive in this moment, here and now. So the ultimate music is improvisation when I'm not following anything pre-arranged, the music is flowing through me, the "I" is not present. No thoughts, my fingers or voice go to notes automatically. That's it! Inspired compositions come from this magical state of being, which I try to capture in my recorded music.” Tarshito 2005
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tarshito is essentially a self-taught musician with some musical studies through Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg and Berkely Jazz School, Boston, USA. Longtime exponent of celestial music, he has followed a diverse and fascinating path into the hypnotic forest of ambient music. While studying Mechanical Engeneering at university he blossomed as a composer and diversified as a guitarist playing with some leading South African musicians. Experimenting with sounds, recordings of nauture and creating ambient music tapes in the mid-seventies, he was way ahead of his time. Tarshito also had some T.V. and recording experiences with more conventional music. Not being one to sit solely in his studio and dream, Tarshito has gone ”on location” to feel out haunting atmospheres to enrich his music. After post-graduating in Solar Energy at the University of Cape Town in 1977, he ”hit the road”, spending the next five years travelling through South America learning the music of Brazil, Peru, Bolivia and Chile. He performed with leading musicians, and played in sacred Incan temples. A series of solo concerts, ”Rock-Ragas and Mantras” (a unique blend of Indian ragas), were very well received in Brazil and Chile. They were followed by a year of playing meditation and celebration music in meditation centres in Brazil, california and in South afrika, where Tarshito finally returned in 1983. There he recorded music for T.V. and video.
In 1985 he moved to Australia, living today at Mullumbimy, a small town in the famous Byron Bay shire. Indian, Latin and African tribal music have had a strong influence on Tarshito. He blends the ”primitive” with rock, jazz and classical notations to give his work a unique power. Ambient music has long been recognised for its therapeutic relaxing qualities, and Tarshito’s is no exeption. Practitioners of many kinds of alternate healing techniques have used his music to accompany their work. Tarshito records his albums in his home-built, solar powered studio, situated near his house in the Australian rainforest. There he is free to create whenever he is in-spired, surrounded by the beauty and power of nature.
Music as Meditation. By Tarshito
Music for me can take on many forms. I play for many reasons, mainly because I love music. I love the high, the beautiful place it takes me, the feeling during and after I play. This to me is meditation. Being in the moment and at one with my own being. No thoughts just allowing the music to come through me. There are some techniques I use and have discovered on this musical journey, some of which I will discuss in the next section.
A mantra is a sound which is repeated over and over until one begins to experience ones own inner being, or arrives at a point of identification with the here and now. There are no thoughts in this state of being, the mantra fills the conciousness completely. In these terms anything can become the mantra, simply by repeating this action with total attention. The most basic mantra is OM, however one can use more complex mantras, with different vibrational frequencies which allow one to experience other levels of conciousness. In my music I use melodic phrases, arpegios and rhythms as mantras.
Most popular music is in time signatures of 4,2 (marching music, Sambas, etc.) or 3 (waltz). This keeps most people locked into the 4,2 and 3 consciousness. In the late 60's I began experimenting and composing in unusual time signatures (5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15 & 19). I discovered that each one had its own magical quality. Complex rhythms need deeper concentration, and when they are repeated for a long time, one dives to deeper and deeper levels of consciousness. When I am playing on my own I usually begin the mantra on the guitar and later the voice enters while the mantra (arpegio) is maintained on the guitar. The voice is free to improvise, spontaneously creating melodies and textures. In this way the mantra continues while one travels to various levels.
Ragas and Modes
Ragas are the basis of the classical music that has evolved in India. It is spiritual music that is sometimes very complex in rhythm and structure, such as played by masters like Ravi Shankar. This music is linear or horizontal. There is only one melody played or improvised while a single drone note vibrates continually. This music is mostly modal i.e. it is in one key and there are no key changes. Western music is chordal or vertical (as well as horizontal) ie. it has several notes played at the same time, which form chords. These chords can change with the melody (or melodies) and the music may also change keys. Each raga uses different scales (”thats”), some being very strange to our Western conditioned ears. Each scale has a different effect on our physical, mental and spiritual body. These ragas have evolved over centuries and there are ragas for different times of the day, each affecting the various chakras (psychic nerve centres).The ragas I play are not strictly ragas in the classical sense, since all I utilise is the scale upon which the raga is based. So in Western language I actually play modes or modally. Having played and experimented with these scales for many years I have developed a sense of how they affect my being and emo-tions. I have found them to be very powerful tools in healing, relaxing and in energy moving. Mostly I tune my guitar open.This is a way of tuning so that I can strum the guitar without placing the fingers of my left hand on the fretboard. The guitar has a droney sound with a few strings tuned to the basic key note in which I am playing. I use different tunings for the various ragas and create mantras (arpegios, rhythms and melodic phrases) to keep me in the present and which form a basis upon which I improvise and return. Basically if I'm playing with other musicians we decide in which key we're playing and then choose the notes in the scale. The rest is improvised.
Press comments and reviews
“Floating sound. The new TranceRelax series
eternalizes the music of Tarshito & Friends from Byron Bay,
Australia, as well as the relaxing vibes of Trancepilots, Andy
Holm and Celestial Dreaming on two disks in a series of five. Listeners
who are ready to surrender and allow themselves to be carried away
by the healing effects of this hypnotic music of the spheres will
immerse themselves in an extraordinarily harmonious and diverse
sonic bath of ambient sound. Tarshito has already implemented his
therapeutic approach in many music projects around the world. He
experiments with recordings of natural sounds, unusual rhythms
and diverse acoustic stimuli, traditional ragas and his own improvisations.
Sangeet’s meditative sitar alternates here with playfully
driving rhythms. Didgeridoo, cello, flute and natural sounds interplay
with the sitar to create a virtuosic serenity. Yet despite all
the classical virtuosity, the sonic plexus runs so freely that
the listener feels as though these musicians hadn’t intervened
in the acoustic event at all.
“The Australians tend to be a relaxed group
of people. And nowhere are the Aussies more laid back than at Byron
Bay, a uniquely energetic power spot on the extreme easternmost
coast of the Fifth Continent. Byron Bay is also the birthplace
of the majority of the music in the new TranceRelax Music Collection
from Edition Reuss Publishers. This collection includes five CDs
filled with relaxing music to accompany yoga, meditation and massage,
or simply to inspired the listener’s dreams. Many of these
compositions were inspired by the fascinating natural environment
of this unique Australian locality. The listener’s mind,
body and soul are soothed by the swish and rustle of the ocean
and by impressions of natural beauty that have been magically transformed