With the upcoming release of the AWAKE soundtrack album, we are pleased to follow composer Vivek Maddala's guest blog, with another from composer Michael Mollura.
By Michael R. Mollura
Sacred music that informed the work I composed for Awake: The Life of Yogananda was derived from two primary sources: Firstly, the mantra (a word or formula chanted or sung as an incantation or prayer),derived from spiritual paths originating in India, and secondly, the Sufi tradition of mystical music from Middle Eastern traditions. Both approaches to sacred music have their foundations in spiritual practice, providing vibrational accompaniment to prayer and meditation as part of an effort to access the Self as a manifestation of divine peace and wholeness.
In approaching the music for this project I was inspired by the meditative dream-inducing components of Yogananda's writings and the images in the film. I felt that Yogananda's most profound impact on spiritual practices was his ability to communicate the importance of transpersonal meditative states of consciousness which could be sustained not just through practicing meditation, but by mere being. In every word and image of the film, I was drawn inward towards the psychological nature of the work.
In this sense, I composed music that was based on the Sufi concept of numinosity -- which refers to the wish to be united with the beloved. Much like a Rumi poem, I approached the music with love while channeling the energy or “prana” one taps into when engaged in spiritual practice. The music is intended to create a sort of intimacy with the Self and the Divine. In this view, the music gives voice and melody to the conscious dreaming of God in his infinite manifestations that have given form to the world in which we breathe.
Much of the music here is meditative and reflective. The body of the music is the raga, which is like a tree with branches that stretch out in different directions much like Yogananda's teachings. Using cello as a main instrument accompanied by piano, my intention was to unite East and West through a blending of instruments and notation that would evoke the presence of the teachings and provide support to the story being told. Meditation music is generally grounded in the essential vibrations of the Indian Raga which is performed sequentially and in a pattern of notes -- each invoking a different time, feeling and experience of consciousness. Each piece holds both masculine and feminine in a whole to provide a melodic representation of the archetypal Self.
Also on this soundtrack are songs I composed using electronic rhythms produced by Keith Kohn put to melody and mantra. One of the intentions of the film was to bring Yogananda into the contemporary by invoking the names of God provided by different traditions. When I visit any Self-Realization Fellowship Temple I often feel as if there is no time, no conditions and just love. And with every contribution to the score I wished to express that feeling of unconditional, limitless possibility.
I'm indebted to the work of my music producer Keith Kohn, my musicians Danielle Rizk, Joey Lugassy, and Eddie Young, and our film production staff for providing me with the support, the gifts and the dreams contained in these pieces of music. I also wanted to state that many of these pieces are dedicated to the love and life my mother provided for me throughout my life -- she passed away during the production of this soundtrack.
With great respect, gratitude and love.
Michael R. Mollura