Dionysian Dynamics of Love and Jazz!
Freeing The Soul and Inhabiting The Body

Michael Moses

MAY 2017

Teresa Oster MSW, MS, CJSSF board member

CJSSF: Not only are you performing for our Jung Center’s Annual Dinner, but you will also give a presentation called, “The Sacred Prequel”. Would you give us a preview of what that phrase means?

MOSES: I’ve been facilitating drum circles and world rhythm workshops since 1983. Along the way I’ve felt an evolving trend, similar to a river branching out into many tributaries each beautiful in its own yet sometimes there’s a fracturing causing one to lose sight of the source. ‘The Sacred Prequel’ is an exploration of the energetic roots of the material before differentiating by culture, taste, and the overthinking mind.

Conscious and organized rhythm existed before there was the need to attach numbers. There existed, the power of sound, that preceded the invention of language. ‘The Sacred Prequel’ begins to explore and experience those generating creative forces at the source.


CJSSF: You’ve had quite a varied career: accompanist for Broadway theater and dance companies: founding member of an innovative multicultural theater company; music educator and writer; percussionist on 12 CDs; and a composer. What are you doing currently?

MOSES: Trying to grow old with creative and healthy grace. Exploring the thin veils between perception and reality and revealing them through Art. Animal rescue and awareness. Saying yes to interesting creative projects of value. Entertaining and teaching locally: Info at www.musicartdesign.com


CJSSF: In 1989 you composed and performed for the Harmonica Mundi honoring the Dalai Lama for his Nobel Peace Prize. You received a grant in 1997 for “Art from Ashes”, a Holocaust Memorial Project. You developed programs in Palm Beach County for Children at Risk, the Juvenile Justice Program, and the public schools. You’ve led drumming circles, including at Hippocrates Institute and the Omega Institute. How does music, especially drumming, work as a healing art?

MOSES: Ahh, the healing arts, a glorious discussion as well as a major can of worms. Primarily we confuse the term Healing Music with the more correct term — Relaxation Music, or Meditation Music. In the authentic experience of Healing an imbalance, it is rarely pleasant or relaxing, but rather excruciating and psychically devastating until the balance is achieved. An article I penned years ago touches on this subject. Here are some sentences from the article:

It is extremely important to remember that what one person needs for effective healing may be completely contrary to what another human being needs for their personal healing.

One person may benefit from the quality of rhythm and sound that might be found in a slow meditative composition, while someone else may receive equal benefits through music that contains wild, primal and driving rhythms…

Healing is the act of bringing relationships back into balance. This includes the relationships of self to self, of self to other, of self to community, and of self to the environment. These primary relationships need to be in perfect balance and harmony in order for our spirit and general well-being to function at peak capacity. We must also take into consideration specific cultural associations that allow for particular types of healing to occur.


CJSSF: From the titles of some of your works: “Pursuit of Happiness”, “Pagan Saints”, “Xmas Ecstasy – A Native American Christmas”, “Red Moon”, and “Lifeblood with Joanne Shenandoah”, and the “PBS Mythos Series”, it is clear you have explored a diversity of spiritual paths through music. And you worked for Omega Institute for Holistic Studies for 15 years. How is music grounds for spiritual exploration??

MOSES: It is, if and only if one’s entire life is a spiritual exploration. Like Albert Einstein said, “Either everything is a mystery or nothing is. What music and Art in general offers is a personal, deep, and unfettered language to explore those special places. And, when you begin to play in those waters you quickly discover that all the distinctions of nation, race, religion, and orientation fall away into the sea of irrelevancy and distraction leaving behind the Moment and then the next. I always remember that my teacher Buddhadeb, when asked what his favorite music is, said: “I don’t listen to music, I listen to Musicians.”

And, my teacher Baba Olatunji used to say, “When you are young what matters is the sound you make when your hand hits the drum. When you are older what matters is the kind of person you are when your hand is up in the air.” Because the drum doesn’t make you better. It simply amplifies who you are at that moment and the next and the next.


CFSSF: Our Jung Center annual dinner is about “Love and Jazz”. Would you say a few words about that archetypal, Dionysian, root art form? In the Ken Burns documentary on jazz, it is called gumbo, a quintessential intermingling, a conversation where improvisation is likened to survival.

MOSES: Yes, yes, yes. And in some ways, that personifies Jazz and the improvisational spirit: To say Yes inside of every moment of the music as it evolves breath by breath, communally.

And of course — Jazz, like much else — Ask 100 people for a definition, and lo and behold you’ve got 100 definitions. And, the intermingling, the drum set, in Jazz, has been called the trap set since the early 1920s and very few drummers know why. As it turns out, there was no standardization of the drum kit early on, so drummers would customize their sound with cymbals from Turkey, TomToms from China, snare drums from the military, etc. etc. This was called the Contraption, hence, the trap set. So, at the source, it was a grand and energetic multicultural collage that changed the sound of popular music forever.

Jazz was born and reared, very much in the Shadows of the time, the Teens and Twenties, a wild mix of intense and passionate Darkness and Creativity sweeping the planet, from the Shadows of WWI to the Creative Fires of electricity and flight. From the Shadows of the Jim Crow landscape in America to the innovations of Art, design, and lifestyle on the European continent, expressed in the early explosions of Modern Art, from Stravinsky to Louis Armstrong the planet was moving into a new vibrational frequency and the language of Jazz was perfectly suited to express the liberating freedom and angsts of the times.

I found it interesting that while this world gumbo was fermenting and all these forces of dark and light were doing their dance, this corresponded to the same period that Jung was having his intense visions that led him to write his Red Book.

Finally, the Dionysian connection to Jazz overflow with the taboos of passionate excess and indulgence, sexuality, and social politics. Plus you can dance to it! Many people forget that Jazz was not always the intellectual listening experience it became but started out as a call to dance and shout your body and soul with ecstatic and sweaty dance moves. The pope did prohibit the Lindy after all.

Michael Moses is a musician, multimedia artist, and teacher. He was a Multimedia Technician for the Omega Institute of Holistic Studies, 1988-2003 and World Music collaborator, composer, and performer for Harmonica Mundi’s Celebration for Nobel Peace Prize announcement honoring H.H. Dali Lama of Tibet.

In his mission statement, Michael Moses explains, “My aim has always been towards a collaborative relationship of artists in pursuit of ways to integrate serious elements and forms ranging from the deeply traditional to the unfathomably surprising. I always have hoped to spark an awakening in the listener to insights and perspectives that help bring together and illuminate the mysteries of nature, spirituality, humanity, and the creative threads that link it all together.”

More information can be found on his website musicartdesign.com


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Center for Jungian Studies
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20533 Biscayne Blvd Ste 104
Aventura, FL 33180-1529



Center for Jungian Studies
c/o Richard Chappell
20533 Biscayne Blvd Ste 104
Aventura, FL 33180-1529

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As a Not-For-Profit organization we exist because of the generosity of our friends, volunteers and donors. None of the work that we do would be possible without you.