Have you ever found yourself staring at a particular word over and over again, re-reading it so many times in your head that it stops making sense? It starts to look wrong. It starts to sound strange. Is it even a word?
From what I understand, this type of intense focus on something simple is part of the idea behind incorporating a chant into the process of meditation. Known as ‘mantras’, these chants can be words, short phrases, or even nonsensical syllables; it doesn’t really matter what the sound is, as long as it is repeated a specific number of times.
The most common number for repetition of a mantra seems to be 108. This number may sound random, but it has plenty of significance. Tibetan Buddhist rosaries have 108 beads. Ayurveda counts 108 pressure points on the body. Stonehenge is 108 feet in diameter. In Japan, Buddhist temples ring their bells 108 times to welcome the new year. 108 shows up all over the place.
Music, of course, is often associated with meditation. I find sample-based music to be particularly meditative. The word ‘mantra’ itself can be translated as ‘instrument of thought’, and to me a sample is like a musical mantra: a short phrase, plucked from its original context, repeated and repeated over a new beat.
Of all the great sample artists, few produce music as meditative as Japan’s legendary DJ Krush.
What makes this a beautiful song:
1. It’s very simple, with only three main components – the thumb piano, the flutes, and the drum beat. This makes me think of the number 108 again. Its three digits can be thought of as representing the universe; 1 representing existence, 0 representing nothingness, and 8 representing infinity.
2. From 4.09 to 4.23, the drums drop out, and the strictly-kept time of the song is suspended, leaving the flutes to soar for a few moments.
3. Just for fun, I decided to count how many bars long this song is. Counting the stop-time section noted above as one bar, the song comes in at exactly…you guessed it…108 bars.
Recommended listening activity: