Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Stephen O’Connor, author of Harmonology: An Insider’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Through Music.
FQ: Could you tell our readers a bit about your background? Being a jazz guitarist, composer, with a list of accolades, how did the concept of Harmonology first come about?
O’CONNOR: I was born and raised in San Diego, California. I didn’t start my musical career until around the age of 16, when I started playing bass in a surf band. Soon after college, I gained a strong interest in jazz, and I began to investigate the guitar. In my early 20’s I won the prestigious Downbeat Magazine Scholarship for performance and composition, to the Berklee School of Music in Boston. Upon my return to Southern California I not only played jazz with talented Southern California artists, but also entered the recording studios as a session player. Soon, I found myself writing and composing for Sea World, Toyota, Jeep, Folder’s Coffee, TV, film and documentaries. My writing career brought me to write for Universal Studios, Warner Bros., Disney, The Republic of China, The Seville World’s Fair, The Olympics, NASA Space & Rocket Center and many others. I was fortunate to receive a commission to compose a suite for the San Diego Symphony and a commission to write a work for violin, jazz piano and jazz bass, which I talk about on my first book, Counterpoint to Reality. Throughout that time I also had a very deep curiosity about who I was and why I was here. I read and studied intensely for years, mainly in the Western Esoteric Tradition. Ultimately, I was initiated into various occult and secret Orders such as The Knights Templars, The Rosicrucian Order, The Order of Pythagoras, The Order of Melchizedek and The Martinist Order. Through those experiences I was able to investigate the power of sound through vowel intonation and the nature of vibration. Harmonology is the logical result of that research and study.
FQ: Your novel, Counterpoint to Reality, was focused on your spiritual journey. Do you feel that journey is parallel or linked to your quest to Harmonology and being more open in regards to finding and keeping successful relationships?
O’CONNOR: Counterpoint to Reality was a memoir. It chronicled my Path to understanding and helped me “lay it out on the table,” if you will. During those years of deep investigation, I became acutely aware of energy and vibration as being the essence of all creation. Music is just that – energy and vibration. It wasn’t until later that I realized that since we, ourselves are vibrational, we must create sympathetic bond with those vibrating around us, like two notes played together on the guitar. That’s when it all began for me. It all started to come together––music and relationships.
FQ: Did you, yourself, attain music therapy during your lifetime? And is there a person or persons who have had an effect on your writing?
O’CONNOR: As I mentioned earlier, I spent a large amount of time investigating sound, not only for creating resonance and spiritual alignment, but also for assisting the chakras to open and begin their vibratory entrainment with each other. In a very tangible sense, I was dealing with sound therapy in a way that was just opening up to exploration at the time, at least in the West.
FQ: What can readers look forward to in the future? Will Harmonology be a subject that you feel you will write about again? Or will you be exploring other paths?
O’CONNOR: I am amazed at how Harmonology just keeps opening up and expanding. I know I have only scratched the surface on this subject. I hope to eventually interest someone in the scientific field to put the concept to the test. I’m now curious as to the multi-ethnic ramifications such as how the idea plays out in other cultures, especially those, for example, that are more “macho” or male dominated, and those that do not use the 12 note musical scale.
FQ: You have had so many unbelievable accomplishments in your career. Can you speak about a few that perhaps included Harmonology? For example: is there a certain piece of music that is linked with a certain event of yours that remains in the forefront of your mind?
O’CONNOR: Being a musician and composer who has spent his entire adult life immersed in sound, I can’t say I have any one piece of music that surfaces on my conscious mind. Perhaps, Adagio for Strings, by Samuel Barber, or The Gentle Side of Coltrane, bring back the deepest memories, complete with emotional attachments. I was fortunate to have been given a special gift in both music and the Spiritual mysteries. Most of my major accomplishments have come through visions or dreams. Where those come from is out of my understanding. Harmonology is most definitely one of those. I feel it’s a gift–to be given at a time that it is needed.
FQ: Although this may sound like a “political” question, I assure you it’s not. From your point of view, believing in universal harmony, do you feel that areas in our world that are failing consistently (whether environmentally, education, etc.) could be fixed with Harmonology?
O’CONNOR: That is a deep and highly interesting question. The thought that large masses of humanity, say an ethnic or regional group of people, or even a country, can contain a singular vibratory pattern and then interact with another is very compelling. Could, for example, the Catholics and the Protestants in Ireland form a flat 5th or flat 2nd interval? If that could be proven, even to a small degree, it would take our understanding to a new level, perhaps even allowing healing and acceptance to happen.
FQ: Do you believe in astrology? You work with the 12-month calendar and music for this book, but do you have any belief or interest in how that part of science works upon relationships?
O’CONNOR: I think it’s all the same. The reason I did not include astrology in my book is that I wanted to stay neutral and open. Harmonology is unique enough to stand on its own. I also purposefully tried to avoid the label of “New Age,” though whether I accomplished that is up for further discussion. Again, it’s all vibrations. Astrology makes a fine case for understanding the “Matrix,” as I call it. So do many other disciplines, such as the Kaballah, the I-Ching and others.
FQ: Is there one thing you wish the reader to take away from this book?
O’CONNOR: Most definitely. I know that we, as a species, are, as they say in Star Trek, at the edge of a new frontier. The old paradigm is crumbling, and rightly so. In order to survive and prosper, we all need to clean up our act. Now is the time to tap into our higher power, take control of our lives and become, as I wrote in Counterpoint, a true being–to walk upright. In the Church of Santo Daime, where I experienced ayahuasca, they held to the belief of the “Second Coming of the Christ.” That’s when you meld with your Inner Presence and raise it to the level of Master. In the Knights Templar, it was called “Slaying the Dragon.” I am not religious, but that symbolism rings strong with me. Our relationships are a good place to begin that process. Harmonology has the potential to give many the tools to heal their relationship wounds and live in a much more positive and healthy, happy way.
To learn more about Harmonology: An Insider’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Through Music please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.