DAVE STRINGER

Dave Stringer is a Grammy™-nominated producer, musician and songwriter who has been widely profiled as one of the most innovative artists of the modern Yoga movement. He’s both an inspiring singer and a compelling public speaker, resolving neuroscience, yoga philosophy and art into a participatory theatrical experience. He is featured in the documentary films Mantra: Sounds into Silence and The Power of Mantra and has toured extensively, leading concerts, workshops and retreats all over the world.

“Dave Stringer has integrated his interest in Kirtan, an Indian tradition of devotional chanting, with his masterful grasp of Western popular music, creating an exciting style of psychedelic pop as informed by traditional Eastern music as the Beatles.— All Music Guide

“A departure from ancient kirtan. Stringer’s performance shaped the experience into a far more compelling musical encounter.” -– The Los Angeles Times

“A volcano of a voice! Stringer transported us to another time and place. His fiery, soulful voice gave the entire room a feeling of a down-home gospel jam and one could not help but sing along.”  LA Yoga Magazine

“High energy, ecstatic chanting at its best.”  — Yoga Journal

 

Kirtan

Kirtan is an ecstasy-inducing, call-and-response form of mantra chanting that is currently undergoing a worldwide renaissance. The primary musical feature of kirtan is the use of call and response, a figure that also deeply informs Western bluegrass, gospel music and jazz. The form is simple: a lead group calls out the melodies and the mantras. The crowd responds, clapping and dancing as the rhythms build and accelerate.

The intention of Kirtan is consciousness-transformative, directing the singers to vanish into the song as drops merge into the ocean. Sanskrit is the mother tongue of many modern languages, and a kind of periodic table of elemental sound meaning. The mantras are primarily recitations of names given to the divine. But perhaps the true understanding of the mantras can be found in the sense of unity, well-being and timelessness that they elicit. The mantras quiet the mind, and the music frees the heart. Ecstasy is both the process and the product.

The Bhaktis wrote ecstatic love poems, and went around singing all the time. Their message was simple: Cultivate joy. See the divine in one another. They taught Sanskrit mantras to common people using simple melodies, accompanied by handclaps and finger cymbals and drums. The Bhaktis had no use for orthodoxy. They saw the expression and form of the divine in every direction they looked. From this perspective, even music that cannot be characterized as traditional can still be expressive of the Bhaktis' original intention.

Mantras are intended as a tool with which the spirit can release itself from the prison of attachments created in the mind. It's not unfair to say that the chanting of mantras is intended to be a completely mindless activity, since the intention of chanting is to create an ecstatic state of awareness that is beyond mind. Yoga doesn't ask us to believe, it asks us to practice, examining our experience until we can witness the truth in the book of our own heart. No one else can read it for us, or tell us what it means. Ultimately, whether mantras are ancient wisdom, complete nonsense or potent metaphor depends on the intention and experience of the one who sings them.