Validating Dafa With Music
Shared at the 2005 San Francisco Falun Dafa Conference
Greetings to Respected Teacher and fellow practitioners:
During the last Mid-Autumn Festival, Ms. Yang and I worked together to hold a recital in Dresden, Germany. It was the first time that we used a solo singing format to spread the true facts about Dafa. It was not only a process to expose the evil and save sentient beings, but also a process of cultivating and elevating ourselves.
Recalling the creating, practicing, and performing processes that occurred over a month-long period, we experienced Teacher's benevolence and Dafa's omnipresence along every step of the way.
At first, we planned to sing the most popular Chinese folk songs to introduce people to Chinese culture. Both the music itself and the accompaniment were available already. We soon realized that anything that a practitioner does is to validate Dafa. It is not enough to only introduce the Chinese musical culture to people.
Teacher said in "Teaching the Fa at the 2003 Atlanta Fa Conference:"
"For Dafa disciples, cultivating and validating the Fa today are first and foremost. Dafa disciples must validate the Fa. For you, clarifying the truth and saving all beings are first and foremost....Actually, you need to remain level-headed and calmly analyze whether the thing you're doing has anything to do with Dafa and validating the Fa. If the answer is yes, you should go ahead and do it. If the answer is no, you shouldn't. You should never lose your way."
For those of us practitioners who have talents and skills in music, using music to tell people the facts about Dafa and to expose the evil, save sentient beings, and spread Dafa is our historic mission.
Music has no borders. One time Ms. Yang sang the song, "Singing in prison." The words were written by practitioner Gao Qiu, who was incarcerated in a Chinese jail. A western lady was crying while listening. She did not understand the words, but she was shaken anyway. The kindness and tolerance of the persecuted practitioner who refused to buckle under pressure moved her. Such instances have occurred more than once.
To tell people the facts of Falun Gong with songs and music sometimes is more effective in reaching people's souls than a flyer or VCD. It is easier to move people and get people's empathy, and thus to accomplish things that other means cannot. The songs were good means for relaying the facts . The words of the songs we had were printed on a program sheet. Four of the songs were based on ancient Chinese poems, but the rest--some 23 songs--were all Dafa-related.
How to choose the songs was our first challenge. In the past, the songs that could be used on the stage were very carefully chosen. Out of dozens of songs, only one would be suitable for a recital. But none of the practitioners who composed songs were professionals. It is just unimaginable in everyday people's minds to have a recital consisting of these songs. Normally strong contrasts and dramatic variations are important factors for a recital to be successful. But most Dafa related songs are peaceful and calm, with no crying, no excitement, no pain, and no sorrow. We had no idea of how we could make an 80-minute recital full of contrasts and variations. But one thing we firmly believed: our music contains energy that can rectify all things that are not righteous.
The musical pieces reflected the joy of practitioners who obtained Dafa, the smile when faced with great tribulations, and the calm in dealing with all difficulties. The inner contents are beyond ordinary people's emotions. The positive, benevolent, and bright messages conveyed with these songs are beyond comparison with the best of ordinary songs.
From numerous songs we selected 23 and divided them into three parts. The first was "Lucky to obtain Dafa and return to our original selves," the second was "Enduring huge tribulations with indestructible righteous thoughts," and the third was "All boats are sailing home in the renewed cosmos." We mixed songs with different tempos, keys, and styles to form a complete musical image, and reached the effect that we hoped for.
The next challenge was to compose the accompaniments. A good accompaniment can make the songs sound much better. A bad one will cause it to lose its beauty. How to catch the unique character of each song and let the piano enrich the song and have the two harmonize with each other was a big challenge for me.
Another challenge for me was that an entire recital consisting of accompaniments written by a single person was unheard of. Because everyone has his or her own style and habits, the lyrics, harmonies, and musical direction by one person are going to sound similar in the songs written and performed. It is alright for one or two songs. But eight to ten pieces all put together for one recital would likely make people feel it was too repetitive.
According to my past experience, each day I could only compose for 2-3 hours and each song needed at least 2-3 days to finish. At this speed, I would still be composing when the recital is over. But then the time to perform was only a month away, which included the time for practice as well. The time was so short and the expectation was so high. What could I do?
Teacher said in Zhuan Falun: "The cultivation is up to you, gong is up to the master." I firmly believed that Dafa could open up my wisdom. I knew it would be difficult, but I was not worried. I would rest for a while when I found I was not making progress. I continued with my practice and studying the Fa according to my normal schedule. I refused to borrow time from these activities to do my compositions. In the end, Dafa showed its power. Not only did I have some breakthrough in my conceptual development, the actual compositions also went very smoothly. I finished more than one piece a day on average. I surprised myself by the smoothness and I thoroughly knew in my heart that it was Teacher who was helping me. As long we journey on the right path and believe in Teacher and Dafa, Teacher is always by our side helping us, and Dafa will manifest its power. When all the pieces were finished, my gratitude was beyond description.
The next difficulty was the practice. Ms. Yang was in Germany while I was in the United States. How could we rehearse? We came up with an idea: by phone. We bought a telephone with headsets and a mouthpiece and we practiced together remotely. The biggest problem was the time delay. To play the musical accompaniment, it is important to follow the singer's tempo, pitch, loudness, and let the sound of piano be harmonized with the song. But going over the long distance generates a time delay of about 1/4-1/2 of a second. So if we tried to match the sound with each other after the transmission, the result was that we both became slower and slower.
Then I decided to play the piano ahead of her singing, but the result was not good. At one time this time difference reached an unbearable point. It was not a concerto. My playing piano and her singing songs were independent. We kept chasing and fighting with each other. What could we do? We followed Teacher's instructions: send forth righteous thoughts.
Aside from eradicating all evil that damages Dafa, disintegrating all of the dark minions and rotten demons, destroying all elements of the Communist evil specter and all of its evil factors in other dimensions, encompassing all of it and leaving out none, we also spoke with Time. Why? Time is also a life. We asked him to get assimilated with "Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance." We asked him to eliminate the time delay and assist us in helping Teacher rectify the Fa. The power of Dafa is boundless. It could not have gone better in the subsequent practices. The time delay no longer existed. I could catch minute variations in her singing and followed the normal tempo in doing my accompaniment. Both of us personally experienced the miraculous power of sending forth-righteous thoughts and the mighty power and the benevolence of Dafa.
On the day of recital, Ms. Yang felt enormous energy in between her two palms when she was singing the song "Coming home," and the same feeling occurred when we held law wheels doing the second movement of the exercise. It was Teacher helping us. Even the weather was cooperating. It was warm and pleasant that day, while the next day the temperature dropped 27 degrees to 41 degrees. Everything was so well arranged by Teacher for us. We felt the warmth of Dafa and Teacher's benevolence everywhere and all the time.
We witnessed the power of Dafa in a recording cession. At first we planed to record all the songs for the recital in two days. But it turned out that we finished it all in one day and spent only 5 hours and twenty minutes. We did it almost in a non-stop fashion, with one 10-minute break in the whole process. We sang every song 2 to 3 times. When we were half way though, I asked Yang if she was tired. She said it was OK. Let us keep going. When we were three quarters through, I asked her again. She replied, "I am still OK. Let's keep going until I am too tired to sing." We ended up finishing it all at once, and her voice held up too. Looking at the clock, we found that we had recorded for over 5 hours. The violinist who did the actual recording for us said to us, "I have never seen anyone record songs like you guys do---Non-stop, going for so long, and the results are very good too. The voice does not sound tired at all. It's just unbelievable."
We all knew very well it was with Teacher's help that we could have such a supernormal performance. Sending forth righteous thoughts also was important. We did not even think whether her voice would hold up or not. We just kept going.
During the preparation for the recital, we also learned some hard lessons: Originally we planned to have two shows. One of the shows was to be organized by an ordinary person who volunteered for the job. But right after we mailed her all the relevant information, her husband was injured when he spilled some boiling water. With no practitioners in that city and on one to help her, she had to take care of her husband and could not help with the recital. This made me feel that everything we do corresponds to a huge battle between the righteous and the evil in the other dimension. The evil is trying to sabotage us with whatever it can, in order to prevent us from doing what we do. They cannot do much against an activity that a practitioner does. But if our righteous thoughts are not strong enough, then the activities that ordinary people do may have loopholes that they can exploit.
To us, this time we learned a hard lesson. We thought at first that everything was just wonderful and we did not need to worry about selling tickets, advertising, or getting sponsorships. We thought that an ordinary person could do everything for us, and all we needed to do was to get on the stage and perform. But this was a big gap. If you want to do anything according to an ordinary person's thoughts, it will fail. Whether a practitioner can succeed in what he does often is determined on his one thought--whether he is using a human being's thoughts or using an immortal's thoughts.
Teacher said in "Eliminate Your Last Attachment(s)," "Just by having your heart unaffected you will be able to handle all situations." (Essentials for Further Advancement)
After the recital, when we reflected on the path that we have gone through in the past month, we could not describe the gratitude we felt toward Teacher. We are just too lucky. We are lucky that we can be practitioners in this Fa-rectification period. We are lucky that we can help Teacher rectify the Fa. We are lucky that we have Teacher by our side all the time on our way home. Thank you, Teacher.