Song of Siddhartha

Song of Siddhartha is my musical interpretation of the story of Siddhartha based on the book Siddhartha by Herman Heese.  I first came across the book in my late teens and it had a profound impact on my spiritual life.  This work consists of 8 short pieces or vignettes on the important milestones in Siddhartha's journey to compassion for all beings.

 

Program Notes:

 

House of the Brahmin

Siddhartha is living a very protected life on the estate of his wealthy father the Brahmin.  One day he is accidentally exposed to the harsh reality of life outside the estate.  He deeply feels the pain of humanity and sets off with his friend Govinda on a spiritual quest to understand the suffering of humanity.

 

In this piece you hear the opening motif for Siddhartha followed by block chords representing the power and strength of the Brahmin's house.  The piece concludes with both Govinda's and Siddhartha's motifs.  Through the rest of this work you will hear these motifs recur and with ascending fifths that represent Siddhartha on his journey.


Wanderings

Siddhartha and Govinda join a band of itinerant renunciates who wander the forests and villages of India chanting their mantras and begging for alms.  In this piece you will hear the ascending fifths motif representing Siddhartha.

 

Under the Banyan Tree

Siddhartha and Govinda encounter the new teaching of the Gautama Buddha under a large Banyan tree.  The piece opens with the mixed motifs of Siddhartha and Govinda on their shared journey.  This is followed by open chord blocks representing the power and wholeness of the Buddha's teaching.  Both Siddhartha and Govinda experience Buddha's state of Oneness with all things.  Govinda stay and becomes a disciple of the Buddha. Siddhartha leaves knowing each must pursue his own path to where ever it leads.  The piece ends with the motifs of Govinda and Siddhartha separating and going their own ways.

 

The Courtesan

Siddhartha encounters the beautiful courtesan, Kamala.  He is drawn to her beauty, eroticism and feminine energies.  He stays with Kamala and becomes her disciple in the ways of sensual love.

 

The Merchant

Siddhartha remains with Kamala for many years and they have a son together.  Siddhartha also becomes involved in the life and commerce of the city, becoming a powerful and wealthy merchant.  He has forgotten his journey and sinks more and more into the secular activities of ordinary life. Eventually he hits rock bottom and realizes that he has abandoned his spiritual path and leaves Kamala and the merchant life behind to continue his journey.  In this piece you will hear the intense drive of life ending with a discord in Siddhartha's ascending fifths.

 

The Ferryman

Siddhartha's journey brings him to a river where a ferryman, Vasudeva, takes him across to the other side.  Vasudeva is old and wise in both the ways of the outer and inner life.  He has learned much from his simple life on the river and he recognizes that Siddhartha is seeking something. Siddhartha also recognises that Vasudeva has an inner peace and knowing that he is seeking.  Siddhartha becomes the Vasudeva's disciple and learns the way of service, the river and the simple life.  In this piece we are introduced to the motif of the ferryman and the gentle movement of the river.

 

Life on the River

After a number of years the ferryman dies and Siddhartha takes on the role of the ferryman taking travlers across the wide river.  He has learned the ways of the river from his mentor.  One day, is takes a group of pilgrams going to hear the Buddha teach.  Amongst the pilgrims is Kamala and their son.  Upon arriving at the other shore, Kamala dies from a snake bite and Siddhartha takes over the raising of their son.  One day the son runs away to the nearby village.  Siddhartha lets him go knowning that he too had once left his father's house.  In this piece we hear the steady flow of the river and simple melody representing Siddhartha's life on the river.

 

Govinda / OM
Siddhartha lives the life of a ferryman taking people across the river for many years.  He becomes wise through what he has learned from the river and the countless people that he ferries across.  One day, a lone pilgrim arrives to be taken across.  Siddhartha recognizes his old friend Govinda.  Govinda is overwhelmed to see Siddhartha as the ferryman and recognizes that Siddhartha has reached a state of inner peace, compassion and oneness with all things and the he has not obtained this for himself.  Siddhartha instructs Govinda in the wisdom of the river which is in constant motion but everywhere at the same time.  He tell of the river as a metaphor for the ever changing aspect of human existence - the cycles of birth and death, love and hate, joy and sorrow, pain and redemption.  Siddhartha and Govinda are joined once again in a deep love and compassion for all beings - OM.

In this piece we hear the mingling of the Siddhartha and Govinda motifs along with the open chord blocks that represent the expansion of the human consciousness.  The piece ends with the beautiful melody of the ferryman - the one who takes humanity across the river of life.

 

 

 

© 2020 by Roger Alan Markowitz