Writings about Music

Two Not One and Sacking A Miscue

My sense is that there are two kinds of music: instrumental and vocal. Within that orientation, I compose instrumental music and have named the combination of software and hardware employed the Meruvina. Why saddle oneself with ugly names like computer music, MIDI, or other equally technical terms? After all, we have not named the piano “hammered wood box” or the flute “metal blow hole”. I prefer this broader perspective mindful of the enormous reservoir of instrumental sounds assembled over history throughout the world under the heading of instrumental music, which includes the more recent appearance of the player piano and various electric, electronic and computer musical instruments. And, of course, the goal of most of us is to find a way to make our music sing. The Gatra Vina is the original instrument, the only one created by god or nature, and all others are equally different from that beginning. (Gatra Vina is the Sanskrit term for the human voice, with “gatra” meaning human body and “vina” denoting musical instrument.)

As far as genre goes, I am currently in Maui, and when someone asked what kind of music I compose, I answered “contemporary classical”. Immediately, I heard that term sounding both pretentious (because a classic is only proven by time) and overly academic. Quickly, I added “world music”, but again that seemed insufficient. Pondering this question, I resolved to use “Michael Robinson music” the next time someone asks, and sure enough, I found myself doing so twice the next day. My retort drew puzzled countenances, and I was asked to elaborate, which I enjoyed doing after avoiding the traditional opening miscue. The advantage here was that both questioners became curious as opposed to instantly excommunicating me to some awful realm of conformity and boredom. The result? Well, one questioner said she later was transfixed when a hula doll in her home began vibrating inexplicably while listening to Moonrise and Rain-Mist. Not a bad start.

- Michael Robinson, June 2016, Kula, Maui


© 2016 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


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