Mala

by Dave Stringer

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about

"Defiantly not your traditional kirtan album!"
--- www.yogabasics.com

"Not being a practitioner of yoga, I wasn't prepared for the impact this compelling CD would have on me. The eight rather indescribable songs on Mala take on a life of their own with melodies so beautiful you may want to cry. Mala is easily one of the most ear-opening records I've heard this year.”
--- www.seaoftranquility.org

"Stringer's most ambitious and best work to date. "Mala" is an important addition to anyone's collection of kirtan albums."
--- LA Yoga Pages

Mala is a call and response kirtan CD with jazz, gypsy and country influences all evident. Dave Stringer’s ingenious and unorthodox arrangements are sweeping and cinematic in scope, integrating the Indian instruments of the traditional Hindustani kirtan style with exquisite vocal harmonies and accents of lap steel, banjo, trumpet and violin.

With songs like the quietly driving 'Bhagavati' and the bouncy 'Govinda Jaya Jaya', Mala contains music that can be used both as an accompaniment to yoga and as music to listen to simply for the pleasure of it. Kirtan is a participatory form of music, so singing along with the CD can be a particularly rewarding experience (the Sanskrit lyrics are helpfully provided in the packaging).

Produced by Saul David Raye. Special guests include Sheila Nicholls, C.C. White, Joni Allen, Shanti Shivani, Suzanne Sterling, Allie Stringer, Steve Ross and Girish.

"India blasted me into billions of spinning particles and then slowly
reshaped me, a process that was somehow both excruciating and ecstatic. I can’t begin to claim complete knowledge of all of the layers of philosophy represented by the mantras I learned to chant while I was there, but I can attest to their power. I’m not a Sanskrit scholar and not always a particularly focused devotee, but I am deeply committed to the process of inquiry that the practice of yoga suggests.

I once read that Thomas Jefferson took a copy of the Bible and cut out the parts that most resonated with him, then reassembled his selections into a work that reflected his own way of saying his prayers. I suppose it is fair to say that as an artist, I am engaged in something of a similar process with yoga. I don’t know exactly where the journey I am making ends. I’m just trying to report honestly from where I am.

Kirtan is rooted in a very old and profoundly joyful Eastern tradition. But I don’t know that it is possible for me to be traditional. As a Westerner, I can’t help but bring my own cultural biases with me. My intention, however, is to be authentic, in the sense that what I am doing originates in my heart. For me, to align the individual-dissolving Eastern tradition of kirtan with the individual-affirming Western traditions of gospel and jazz and rock music is no contradiction. Both arise from the same impulse toward expressing what is ecstatic and liberating and transcendent.

Mantras are intended as a tool with which the spirit can release
itself from the prison of attachments that the mind creates. It’s not unfair to say that the chanting of mantras is intended to be a completely mindless activity. Yoga doesn’t ask us to believe, it asks us to practice, examining our experience until we can witness the truth in the book of our own heart. My only suggestion is that you chant along. Whether these mantras are ancient wisdom or psychological metaphor or complete nonsense is up to you."

Dave Stringer

credits

released September 21, 2004

Musicians:

Allie Stringer: Featured Vocals (5/6) / C.C. White: Featured Vocals (6), Vocals (1,3,7) / Caleb Brennan: Choir (3) / Cameron Stone: Cello / Candy Girard: Violin (3,4,8) / Carri Abrahms: Featured Vocals (4), Accordian (6) / Danny Peck: Vocals (3,4,7) / Dave Stringer: Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar (1,4,7), Harmonium, Accordian (1), Mandolin, Melodica, Tamboura (1, 5/6, 7, 8), Swaramandala / Domonic Dean Breaux: Flute, Soprano Saxophone / Donna De Lory: Vocals (3,4,7) / Girish Gambhira: Tablas, Dulcimer, Mridangam, Marimba, Manjira (3, 6), Shaker, Tamboura (3) / Greg Wendt: Choir (3) / Haribol Siddhadas: Manjira (1), Choir (3) / Ian Walker: Electric Bass, Acoustic Bass (7) / Jaik Grace: Featured Vocals (2), Vocals (1), Choir (3) / James Harrah: Electric Guitar, Lap Steel (6) / Jay Bellerose: Drum Set, Shaker, Djembe / Jay Gibson: Trumpet / Joni Allen: Featured Vocals (7), Vocals (1,3,6) / Laria Saunders: Choir (3) / Lili Haydn: Violin (4) / Liz Burnette: Featured Vocals (3), Vocals (4,6) / Mark Smith: Featured Vocals (4), Vocals (1,3,7) / Marty Alan: Sitar (2) / Nirlepa Howard: Choir (3) / Patricia Sill: Choir (3) / Sean O’Byrne: Choir (3) / Scott Mills: Banjo, Tenor Saxophone, Vocals (7) / Scott Schenke: Lap Steel (1,8) / Shakti Gray: Choir (3) / Shanti Shivani: Featured Vocals (3) / Sheila Nicholls: Featured Vocals (1), Vocals (3, 4,7), Piano / Steve Ross: Acoustic Guitar (6), Vocals (6) / Sudama Mark Kennedy: Sitar (3), Choir (3) / Suzanne Sterling: Featured Vocals (2), Vocals (7)

Special Thanks:

Hargobind Khalsa, Karan Khalsa, Amrita Kaur, Fabienne & Jeremy Toback, Jesse Lombardi, Lynn Grossman, Paul Gordon, Travis Baird

Recorded by Saul David Raye
Mixed by John Potoker at Saturn Sound
Mastered by Michael Lazer
Universal Prayer Produced and Recorded
by Travis Huff
Pro Tools Engineer: Travis Huff
Additional Production: Ian Walker
Graphic Design: Lance Glover / Treehouse

Mala, and its sister, Japa, were recorded over the same
period of time with the same extended family of musicians,
in my labyrinthine old Spanish house in the Hollywood Hills.
Our intention was to preserve as much of the energy of a live
performance as we could, editing the arrangements into something clear and accessible to people previously unacquainted with kirtan.

Many different musicians contributed to this ongoing workshop through live performances in cities spanning America, Canada and Europe. The contributions of Adam Sherman, Allen Astin, Anant Jesse, Debi Buzil, Doug Brush, Jacqueline Westhead, Jeffrey Lidke, Kenny Dread, Kevin Kraus, Mark Gorman and Steve Emmerman all merit specific acknowledgement. It was impractical to include everyone in the production of these tracks, but their love, energy and imagination have influenced and shaped the music in incalculable ways, for which I am extremely thankful.

I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Saul Raye for the steady wisdom and patient friendship that saw this project through, and to Ma Jaya Satabhagavati for encouraging me to make singing mantras my vocation. With great respect and love this music is offered at the feet of Swamis Muktananda and Chidvilasananda. Their grace brought me to India, and their bliss taught me to sing.

All songs written by Dave Stringer ©2000- 2003 Magnetic Melodies BMI except: Saraswati Ma: written by Dave Stringer and Steve Ross ©2003 Magnetic Melodies BMI / Maha Music ASCAP; Gaja Nana: Traditional - Arrangement Dave Stringer ©2003 Magnetic Melodies BMI; Universal Prayer: Traditional - Arrangement Dave Stringer ©2003 Magnetic Melodies BMI

Additional information, tour schedules and contact
information are posted online at www.davestringer.com

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Dave Stringer Los Angeles

Grammy-nominated producer, singer, composer and innovative international Kirtan artist. Stringer’s sound connects the transcendent mysticism of East Indian ragas to the exuberant grooves of Gospel and the ringing harmonies of Appalachia.

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Track Name: Govinda Jaya Jaya
Govinda Jaya Jaya Gopala Jaya Jaya
Radha Ramana Hari Govinda Jaya

Krishna (here referred to by his other names Govinda and Gopala)
and Radha (the consort of Krishna, whose name means fortunate or successful) are symbolic of the unity of the world and the observer of the world, the lover and the beloved.
Track Name: Bhagavati
The Mahishasuramardini Stotram (found in the Devi Mahatmyam) has twenty verses, of which I have selected the four I find most essential. The text is a prayer to the Goddess Durga, who slays the demon of the ego with the power of grace.

1. Ayi giri nandini, nandita medini, visva vinodini, nandinute
Giri vara vindhya shirodhini vasini vishnuvilaasini jishnunute
Bhagavati he shitikanthaku tumbini bhooriku tumbini bhoorikrute
Jaya jaya he mahishaa suramardhini ramya kapardini shailasute

2. Suravara varshini durdhara dharshini durmukha marshini harsharate
Tribhuvana poshini shankara toshini kilbisha moshini ghosharate
Danujani roshini ditisuta roshini durmada shoshini sindhusute
Jaya jaya he mahishaa suramardhini ramya kapardini shailasute

8. Dhanuranu sangara nakshana sanga parishphu radanga natatkatake Kanakapishanga prishatkanishanga rasadbhatasringa hataabayuke
Krutachaturanga balakshitiranga ghatadbahuranga ratadbatuke
Jaya jaya he mahishaa suramardhini ramya kapardini shailasute

16. Vijita sahasra karaika sahasra karaika sahasra karaikanute
Krutasura taaraka sangara taaraka sangara taaraka soonusute
Suratha samaadhi samaana samaadhi samaadhi samaadhi sujaatarate
Jaya jaya he mahishaa suramardhini ramya kapardini shailasute
Track Name: Shivaya Namah Om
Shivaya Namah Om Namah Shivaya

A series of infinitely sustainable sounds that invoke the infinite being of Shiva, the Lord of dissolution. Shiva is the witness of the endless rise and fall of all transient forms. In chanting this mantra, one identifies with the still point around which the entire universe revolves.
Track Name: Gaja Nana
Gaja Nana Hey Gaja Nana Gauri Manohara Priya Nandana
Pashupati Taneya Gaja Nana
Parama Niranjana Gaja Nana Hey

A song to Ganesha, who removes the obstacles of the mind. In yoga, what obstructs also contains within it the wisdom by which one finds the way through. The pure exists within what has become corrupted, and within heaviness are the seeds of liberation and light.
Track Name: Saraswati Ma
Ya kundendu tushara hara dhavala ya shubhra vastravirta
Ya vinavara danda mandita kara ya shveta padmasana
Ya Brahmachyuta Shankara prabhirtibhir devaih sada vandita
Sa mam patu Saraswati bhagavati nihshesha jadyapaha

Saraswati Ma
Mahadevi Namo Namah

The name Saraswati means literally ‘she of the stream’. The Goddess of music and art and literature, she can also be thought of as the stream of ideas, the stream of the breath, of the movement of forms in time.
Track Name: Davakinandana Gopala
Devakinandana Gopala Devakinandana Gopala
Gopala Govinda Govinda Gopala

Devakinandana, Gopala and Govinda are all names of Krishna, an expression of the longing to return to a state of union with love, at the source of all things.
Track Name: Universal Prayer
Durjanah sajjano bhuyat sajjanah shantim-apnuyat
Shanto muchyeta bandhebhyo muktash-chanyan vimochayet

Sarve bhavantu sukhinah sarve santu niramayah
Sarve bhadrani pashyantu mas kashchid-dukha-bhag bhavet

Sarvas-taratu durgani sarvah kaman-avapnotu
Kale varshatu parjanyah sarvah sarvatra nandatu

May the wicked become good. May the good obtain peace. May the peaceful be freed from bonds. May the freed set
others free.

May all be happy. May all be healthy. May all see only
auspicious sights. May no one have a share in sorrow.

May everyone surmount his difficulties. May everyone have their desires fulfilled. May it rain at the right time. May everyone everywhere be glad.