People who have applied or are considering applying to the upcoming Creating Music Together retreat (January 2-9, in Mexico) may be interested to learn more about the Assistants who will be presenting the retreat – their experience, their approach to Music and to CMT. We have asked each of the Assistants to answer some questions, so that attendees and prospective attendees can get to know us a little better.
Our first Assistant is Dev Ray, founder of Ray of Light Productions.
Dev is a musician who has also worked as everything from live sound engineer to tour manager, with a wide variety of artists such as Corrosion of Conformity, Zoe Keating, Gov’t Mule, Ballake Sissoko & Vincent Segal, Robert Fripp and the League of Crafty Guitarists, the Juilliard String Quartet - and everything in between! He taught for many years at the Boston University’s Center for Digital Imaging Arts, and has been an Assistant at Creating Music Together since its inception.
You spend a lot of time doing sound for other musicians. Could you please talk about what you do when you're at the board during the show? How do you think about this as part of your work?
My professional role doing "sound" for musicians is quite varied. For some shows I’m mixing FOH, for others I’m doing monitors, or perhaps I’m the patch guy, systems tech, stage manager, tour manager, booking agent or some combination! Because of the freelance nature of my work I get put into many different roles. This really helps me think on my feet and helps me to trust my instincts, which is a very important part of the creative process and in working with others. What’s really important in almost all of these jobs is the ability to look at both the big picture and the details, often simultaneously. Mixing a live show is a great example. There are many details to get lost in such as EQ, dynamic processing, etc., and you can spend all day doing that but if the vocal is buried in the mix none of that matters!
How this relates to my “work” is that I am always looking at what my Role is and what I can do to best serve this Role. Fundamentally my aim is to serve the music, support the musicians and the venue and to do what is needed. The more I do this type of work the less I have to “think” about it and I move more from instinct and experience. Sometimes the work is creative and sometimes it is technical. This balance of both of these worlds is an important aspect that I find quite fulfilling.
Could you please share a report from the first Creating Music Together retreat.
I am sitting in a full-group meeting in the Chapel. Craig is going over the instructions for the first Fragments piece and asking people to present their first fragments. While this is going on, in my head, far in the distance I hear this voice singing in a language that I cannot understand. This is a bit distracting as I am focused on Craig’s presentation. However, this music will not go away and I quickly grab my paper and a pen and write down the words I’m hearing phonetically. This somewhat soothes the voice in my head and I am able to listen to people’s fragments once again. As soon as the meeting is over, I stay seated and look at my paper, reconnecting with the singing voice I heard in my head. Within a few minutes a new piece takes shape. Doug and Jeff are still in the Chapel and it’s clear that they are the players that I need for the piece. I ask them if they would participate and within 15 minutes the arrangement is done and the piece is ready for performance.
What brings you back for 2019?
An aphorism comes to mind that answers this clearly: When people get together, something happens. I had an amazing and eye-opening experience this past January and I am looking very much forward to reconnecting with that experience. I rarely give myself the freedom to spend time on Creative work and this retreat will allow me to do just that. Also, I trust Tony and I trust Craig!
What do you find at CMT your own work that you don’t find elsewhere, or that is particularly useful for you?
As mentioned above, at the CMT retreat I can allow myself to spend time on Creativity. This space is something that easily gets lost in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life. I don’t feel guilty for spending time writing, whereas in my daily life there are so many “things” to do, Creative work usually gets put on the back-burner.
Silence is also very important to me and I find a deep connection with it at CMT.
How would you characterize the role of the Assistants at CMT?
I would characterize the role of Assistants as facilitators. Our roles are to make sure the retreat stays on track, helping the participants with their Aims, to look at transitions and to see the big picture as well as the details.
What did you find most surprising about CMT - either something from your own experience or something about the participants, or something about the retreat itself?
I was most surprised by how all the participants were able to rise to the music-writing challenges. Not only were they able to complete the assignments, but there was music! I was not just surprised, I was astounded.
Please share some of your experiences making music.
My experiences making music are varied, but it is all affected by time, place, my state (both internal and external), and whatever else is going on. The more present I am, the more I am able to be in the moment and to respond accordingly. Still, it’s a complicated and fuzzy experience that is difficult to nail down. I have worked alone and in groups both large and small, and each situation is unique.