#18 The Mysticism of Sound and Music

By Michael Harrison


In this episode, we discuss the life and work of musician and Sufi teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan with composer/pianist and Inayat Khan scholar Michael Harrison.

Hazrat Inayat Khan (Urdu: عنایت خان رحمت خان) (5 July 1882 – 5 February 1927) was an Indian professor of musicology, singer, exponent of the saraswati vina, poet, philosopher, and pioneer of the transmission of Sufism to the West. At the urging of his students, and on the basis of his ancestral Sufi tradition and four-fold training and authorization at the hands of Sayyid Abu Hashim Madani (d. 1907) of Hyderabad, he established an order of Sufism (the Sufi Order) in London in 1914. By the time of his death in 1927, centers had been established throughout Europe and North America, and multiple volumes of his teachings had been published.

Michael Harrison (called "an American maverick" by Philip Glass) forges a new approach to composition through just intonation (the system of tuning based on pure harmonic proportions). His works blend classical music traditions of Europe and North India. He is a Guggenheim Fellowship and NYFA Artist Fellowship recipient.

Michael creates dedicated tuning systems for many of his works. He pioneered a structural approach to composition in which the proportions of harmonic relationships organically determine other musical elements such as pitch, duration, and dynamics. He also invented the "harmonic piano," a grand piano that plays 24 notes per octave, documented in the Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments. Harrison seeks expressions of universality via the physics of sound – music that brings one into a state of concentrated listening as a meditative and even mind-altering experience.


Episode Music

  • Michael Harrison –  "Mureed" from Seven Sacred Names (2021, Cantaloupe Music)   
  • Michael Harrison –  "Alim: Polyphonic Raga Malkauns" from Seven Sacred Names (2021, Cantaloupe Music)   
  • Michael Harrison –  "Qadr: Etude in Raga Bhimpalasi" from Seven Sacred Names (2021, Cantaloupe Music)   
  • Hazrat Inyat Kahn – "Purvi Khal – Kamli Wale Tope Sabkuchhvare" (2022, Primitiv)

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