Writings about Music

Make Waves

Michael Robinson (Los Angeles)

It's OK to make waves if the situation calls for it. After moving to Kapalua from Manhattan in 1989, I found myself wishing to dedicate a composition to Jim Morrison, and part of the music was alluding to the use of ocean wave sounds by The Doors for Riders On the Storm. My piece was named Pink Candle, and looking back, it presaged my future friendship and collaborations with Ray Manzarek, the founder and keyboardist of that momentous band.


A few years later, a spur of the moment sensation upon gazing at Figures By the Sea by Pierre-Auguste Renoir at the MET in Manhattan spawned musical ideas that became Sea of France, another instance evoking ocean waves for musical rightness.



While not ocean waves, the opening shimmering sounds of Amethyst Labyrinth seems sonically related enough to include here.


Rainsticks have been a favorite of mine, too, first used for Giant Leaves.



Charukeshi, the raga introduced to me by George Harrison, makes especially dramatic use of rainsticks.



Similarly, if varied, Gangadhara, overflows with rainsticks, too.


Another way to make waves is to make music that usurps the establishment and status quo, not doing so for that reason, of course, but rather simply being oneself. Just blame it on an inanimate object like the meruvina if you need an excuse for doing so, this being the age of the composer-programmer evolved from earlier centuries being the time of the composer-keyboardist, myself being an entirely pure composer-programmer. Except when I'm improvising at the piano...

Actually, I'm not really comfortable with the description "programmer" because it sounds too clinical, preferring "performer". After all, that was the whole reason for inventing the word "meruvina"! So, composer-performer is better for knowing or learning the unique nature of my instruments.

And if you do make waves in the realm of music, there will be people who will get what you do even if they perhaps happen to be the exception sometimes.

“Making use of alternative tunings, and blending tradition and technology, Robinson is able to transcend cultural and spiritual boundaries.” (Amanda MacBlane)

"Something very sincere and breathtaking is owned by you." (Diamanda Galas)

"His creations are future-oriented. Just like the famous contemporary master, Ad Reinhardt, using colors and shapes to create “eternal purity,” Michael uses notes and instruments to convey his musical understanding and aspirations." (Joanne Cheng)

"Amazing music." (Halimah Collingwood)

"I admire artists like yourself who find new connections and deeper meaning." (Judy Mitoma)

“You have been blessed with genius.” (Kitty Pilgrim)

"Thank you for the notes and the music, with its shimmering version of the music of the spheres." "Your intriguing set of instruments suggests that you are doing something quite new in American music." (Helen Vendler)

"Your music has lowered my blood pressure by miles. It's very, very beautiful." (Susan McClary)

"The music struck me as the soundtrack for dreaming... so ethereal and pure. I admire the style/format you've chosen for sharing your work... the music, the words, the teachings that they hold.  You have a way of personalizing your communiqués that allow access to your soul. You have a beautiful gift." (Carla Crow)

"I would like to say I am beginning to feel and thoroughly like your music, in that it fills me with the balance between the very primitive and the very evolved, plus your music is mesmerizing. My sense is you are one of the formidable composers of this and the last centuries. There is NO ONE doing this and I think you have the genius and sensibility to have captured this moment in ART, in Vision, in the expression of Sound in this very complex world." (Francine Rosenbaum)

"Your music is so beautiful. I'm curious to know how you do it! (Liona Boyd)

"He has taken Indian classical music to a new dimension." (Amy Catlin)

"Exquisite" (Geeta Iyer)

"He's broken the mold." (Marcia Godinez)

One ideal is to follow the example of both Haridas and Johann Sebastian Bach, truly creating music for God in the first place, which is essentially what I do.

- Michael Robinson, March 2021, Los Angeles


© 2021 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist).