Article from the Spiegelbeeld (oktober 2009) by Michiel Strategier
Ever since I’ve known Jacques Groenen, it feels like I’m dealing with a genius. I used to find him difficult to comprehend, as his abstractive abilities are very high, and sometimes hard to understand as an average human being. As we became more accustomed to each other, my respect and sympathy grew, especially because of his patience to keep explaining the obvious.
From the moment I asked him to explain the tuning of A=432 Hz, energy started to flow. Together with violinist Martine Nijenhuis I was preparing a concert tuned in this frequency – we were to improvise to the music, and Jacques was going to explain the theory.
The night before the concert Jacques had a brain wave, resulting in profound insight in how frequencies in the scale of cosmic music – later defined as KristalSpiral Tuning – need to be defined. I was given the task to tune these tones and then to improvise with them.
As a piano tuner I was already used to working with “Verituner”, a program developed by Dave Carpenter, who developed an outstanding technique to analyze a piano while tuning. The program provides a tuning advice based on the disharmonic overtones of every string, resulting in truly optimal harmony within the law of equal temperament. This equal temperament tuning was developed to create harmony in sounds, no matter the key (www.veritune.com).
I asked Dave Carpenter to develop a program that could display the frequencies of Jacques Groenen’s Cosmic Kristal Spiral on my tuning device. Once I was able to tune these new frequencies, the old and traditional musical universe collapsed.
The very first time I played in the new tuning, a lot of things happened. Some quotes from a letter I wrote to Jacques on November 18, 2007:
“Today was the first time I played in this new tuning frequency. The results are astounding. First I tried playing my usual repertoire. But this deemed impossible. It sounded awful and didn’t comply. What did comply is RELEASING THE KNOWN AND LETTING GO! No holding on to old and familiar patterns, just jumping in and learning how to swim in an ocean of sounds…”
“All I’m trying to say is that I experienced what happens when the music flows in the Groenen frequencies. The result of letting go, no control, experiencing the unknown, not pretending to be musical or sensitive was a trance-like journey, of which I’m convinced is full of universal information and communication.”
“I am very enthusiastic. But again realize this is not covering the musical grounds we have gotten to know up to now.”
On March 3, 2008 I wrote the following:
“I was sick again for almost a week. For a moment I thought this was due to your damned new tuning system (haha)! But then again, it might well be true that in dealing with these frequencies something inside of me was stirred that has been dormant for a long time. I have also been quite depressed – a trade formerly unknown to me. Last night I crawled out of bed and watched a TV series covering the battle of Stalingrad, after which I started playing my piano. I can assure you that a totally new type of music flowed out of my hands. Unfortunately I was too tired to record it.
I went through a complete transformation during my illness, due to the new tuning. It is like a cleansing, a rearrangement of things and last night it allowed me to play totally free and unrestricted.
It was wondrous how I was able to cover the full essence of that TV show. The pride of the Russian soul, the heroics, the tragic romance in it all. It was fascinating to experience how naturally it all came out. I was emotionally touched and realized that I had never experienced such beauty in music before. Anyway, much is happening… I feel this music can be successfully presented to a large audience.”
Entering the world
By chance, my first recordings of the tuning that I presented to Jacques came to the attention of a board member of the French radio and television organization. This person, Christian Hugonnet, presented himself at my doorstep no more than a week later to hear me play. When he heard my music in France, after an exhausting week, he was immediately convinced of the remarkable effects of these frequencies, as he instantly felt revived by experiencing a few phrases of these unusual tones. We are currently discussing the options to introduce these frequencies to restore the vanished hearing capabilities of the French.
I “accidentally” got introduced to Lilian van Bennekom, as we are both involved in the “Knowledge Book”. She was on the verge of publishing her short stories and pencil drawings in a book called “Vivion and the Reign Within”, along with a CD containing 24 spoken stories. I offered to combine these stories with music, and have accompanied 23 stories with my new piano tones. This was the first time that the “Groenen” tuning officially had been recorded.
I found the solo improvisations on piano very successful and thus decided to produce the CD, available through our website.
The ultimate improvisation
Playing in this tuning is quite intense, and totally different from regular attempts to improvise. Musical improvisation and composing music mainly have to do with recollection. We all have a universe full of images, impressions, scents and sounds recorded in our subconscious. When engaged in music, these images fortunately reappear and one is able to reproduce them. Basically you move from one cliché to the other. The art is to arrange these recollections in such a way that they become something new.
Usually I find myself in a musical gallery of images when I’m improvising. And I play combinations of these familiar images that I love. Sometimes it leads me to new sounds that enchant me, that capture me. Repeating this a couple of times leads to new clichés.
As a musician I am mainly focused on the timbre, the color of sounds. I feel more like an aquarellist than an instrumentalist. I use my instrument (cello or piano) as a paint brush. That is exactly why I am engaged in minimal music. It brings you to the core of a certain color. Through music I learned to explore colors.
Then this wonderful tuning scale of Jacques appeared. It took a while to get used to. What you play through traditional images does not always match and often sounds awkward. Some parts of musical memory are still worthy trying, but often don’t agree with reality. A complete opposite approach was required!
When I realized I needed a complete turnaround, my music suddenly took off. I stopped assuming and arrived in new territory. It was a complete and natural metamorphosis that did not resemble the traditional. I was able to allow sounds to flow as they were. Shape was introducing itself. The decree was total exposure. Completely new landscapes were about to be explored.
As already stated, immediately after the first explorations in this tuning, I was fortunate enough to be able to musically accompany Lilian’s book. With this the deeper mystery was revealed. I completely surrendered to Lilian’s goals. I completely dissociated and solely played for her. As such I surpassed my own boundaries and especially my ego.
The new tuning will excel when we travel beyond ourselves, when we are inspired by the depths of the universe. Where all is new. We don’t know what lies ahead. But yet we are able to go on a journey – united. It works especially well when we truly want to explore as One.
It is strange to notice that, every time I record something new, at first – after a complete surrender to inspiration – I cannot recollect what I just played. When listening to what was just recorded, my first impression is utter ugliness. I have to leave it be for a week before slowly opening up to the beauty that sparkles like a shining star.
One final observation. The tuning really comes to life when used by small children. Recently, while my two grandsons Yunus (7 yr) and Deniz (1 yr) were playing the newly tuned piano, I was completely flabbergasted by the depth and richness of such miraculous sounds! The frequencies from the piano ran shivers down my back and deeply touched me. With a traditionally trained hearing one might find the sounds out of tune. I, on the other hand, find them universal and far-reaching.
Feedback from listeners
“Thank you for sharing the link to Michael Strategier’s work. Do you feel the harmonics? Taste the sound? The manifest scalar of light-oscillations ebbing and flowing gently AS the Love Song of the Kryst. The stillness. The movement. The soft, echoing conveyance of Infinite Expression as the Eternal Self…This Are We.”
“I am waiting in anticipation to receive the cd – blessings with the recording of the next one – I’ll be standing in line to also get that one.”
“Oh, I am soooo out of my skin with excitement.”
“Laying down with my head phones on, I experienced some very profound changes in my consciousness.”
“…creating quite a stir in musical circles.”