The Mindful Bard – Greg Herriges, Telluric Currents

Books, Music, and Film to Wake Up Your Muse and Help You Change the World

CD: Greg Herriges, Telluric Currents

Label: New Folk Records

Release date: 2009


Poet Who Stands at the Place Where the Streams of Vibration Converge

“Imagine all things/ As an expression / Of universal / Imagination /
Sending out a true smile / To the ones who’ll see it / Throwing out a true kiss / Hoping you receive it”

Greg Herriges, from ?True Smile,? Telluric Currents

Inside the liner notes of this CD is a world map of telluric currents, the natural electrical currents flowing beneath the earth’s surface. They appear to meander in wide, unimpeded arcs beneath oceans and land masses. For Greg Herriges, telluric currents with their movements and convergences symbolize the linking of disparate musical traditions, which, brought under Herriges’s sensitive artistic direction, turn out to be not quite so dissimilar after all.

In the haunting ?Kap Khun,? the Indian classical songstress Pooja Goswami delivers a Hindi love song with a non-occidental melody line, sung over a Western key (played on guitar), and yet the two musical lines resolve together in a chord that is achingly beautiful.

?True Smile,? a song George Harrison would have been proud to have written, is a deeply meaningful idea expressed in words you’d never imagine being able to make into a song.

?Pipeline? is a vintage surfer tune played by an acoustic guitar master, complete with harmonics, vamps, tremolos, and rapid runs.

Greg Herriges is a musical syncretist. An ethnomusicologist who has lived most of his life in Minnesota, he’s fished his musical inspiration from Bollywood movies, Japan, Persia, India, Turkey, and surfer rock. He’s managed to surround himself with excellent musicians of many cultures and I’m guessing that It’s not only his artistic prowess but also his obvious respect for their traditions that has made collaboration with him so desirable.

One issue often voiced against musical syncretism is the belief that one should only play the music from one’s own ethnic background, that playing the music of other cultures is not only exploitative, It’s also artificial; you cannot, It’s assumed, play a style of music unless you have lived through the particular pain of that music’s inventors.

If you take this fallacy to its outer limits, you would have to insist that Wynton Marsalis should not be playing Bach and Handel because he’s not German. Would you? And would anyone have dared tell Odetta, who recorded some of the most beautiful versions of Irish songs I’ve ever heard, that she had no right to sing Irish songs because she wasn’t Irish herself?

Such a view neglects to acknowledge that every musical tradition ever created has been to some extent a joining of diverse musical elements to bring about something entirely new.

Fact is, the best musicians and composers are gifted with an empathy that peers into other cultures and allows them to recognize themselves in them. Those who develop this empathy can aspire to create a work as enchanting as Telluric Currents.

Telluric Currents manifests seven of The Mindful Bard’s criteria for music well worth a listen: 1) it is authentic, original, and delightful; 2) it makes me want to be a better artist; 3) it gives me tools which help me be a better artist; 4) it inspires an awareness of the sanctity of creation; 5) it is about attainment of the true self; 6) it provides respite from a sick and cruel world, a respite enabling me to renew myself for a return to mindful artistic endeavour; and 7) it stimulates my mind.

The Bard could use some help scouting out new material. If you discover any books, compact disks, or movies which came out in the last twelve months and which you think fit the Bard’s criteria, please drop a line to If I agree with your recommendation, I’ll thank you online.