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Spotlight Dr. Randall Hall: 'Weird' Music, The Sacred, and Initiatory Experiences

This interview was recorded December 7, 2023. Dr. Randall Hall is professor of music at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, as well as a performing saxofonist and composer. He's also writing a book about 'speculative' and 'weird' music as it relates to the Sacred and ritual experiences. In this special Spotlight interview, Randall shares his process of creating music that attempts to re-create a modern theurgic repertoire. (Theurgy is the practice that refers to the ascent of one's soul to the divine.) In the first part of our interview, Randall talks about his first 'encounter' with the concept of 'the harmony of the spheres' and his search to find it, and then explains the concepts of 'speculative' music that reach back to the Pythagorian-Platonic tradition. He also briefly traces a history of the development of musical ideas about consonance and dissonance, and how musical theory has changed with regard to the idea of 'Divine' music. Speaking about 'weird' music, Randall shares how the Divine is not always 'beautiful' but oftentimes terrifying to behold. Following the writings of Porphyry, when one sees or experiences something 'weird,' this is our indicator that we should pay attention to it, and that it signifies an opportunity for higher learning. Esotericism became the key for Randall to begin digging into these strange mysteries. He discusses his ideas about how music and esotericism are intertwined, and yet how there's not much discussion about musical practice in conjunction with ritual. Randall is trying to create a hermeneutical crisis in the listener, through set and setting, to allow the imagination to 'kick in' and allow the 'weird' to speak. There's much more that Randall shares in this interview that can't be summarized here! Clips used in this video, from the album Oracle, Voces Mysticae and Mithras Liturgy, are used with kind permission from Dr. Randall Hall.


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