Formwela 1

atmosphere of temple-like calm flooding through and saturating the centrifuge of self 

For memorizing, then tuning to internally (via audiation) during acute moments of stress among family, housemates, friends, lovers, colleagues, memories, self-talk, spirits, pets, or other relational dynamics generating incendiary tension. With regular use, the ear’s internal radio system will remember to tune to an atmosphere of temple-like calm, thus reminding the body of its capacity for channeling love’s cooling waters, even in the midst of heated interpersonal climates.

Some of the ingredients in Formwela 1: 

Cherukeshi Raga: offered by Ganavya Doraiswamy, this raga is used by South Indian Carnatic musicians, as an aide for someone who is anxious. It is understood to slow the heart, and ease anxiety in the listener. The way it used in this song is a much simplified approach, compared to the ways in which Carnatic singers improvise in perpetually rising, and cascading phrases. 

Ear-Worm Melody: Since the intention of this song is for it to be remembered, and heard internally (via audiation), the melody is designed for a person to remember it after hearing the song once. Drawing from Dr. Stephen Horowitz suggestions on compositional elements that contribute to a song being memorable. In this song specifically, the melody is made with short, repetitive phrases, harmonically consonant (it never goes out of the primary scale of the song). 

Visualization and Sensation prompts to encourage somatic grounding: using simple lyrics, in short phrases (as per Dr. Horowitz’s suggestion on lyrical methods that contribute to a songs memorability) the words invite the listener to connect with the earth beneath their feet, and envision and notice positive sensations in the body. 

– Lyrical articulation of the musician’s salutary intention: per Dr. Norris’ guidance about the power of shared intention when working in a therapeutic context with music-therapist and client, and while sharing in a communal music listening session with an explicit healing intention, this intro invites the listener understand and – if they so choose- agree with the song’s healing intention. In this song, the intention is to internally generate and re-connect with a somatic sensation of love, calm and spaciousness. 

Sound of earth (acoustic bass) combined with sound of air (voice, and zig-zag melody pattern): Drawing from Hazrat Inayat Khan’s teachings on elemental sounds and their effect on the listener, this song combined the elemental sounds of earth and air. “The sound of earth is dim and dull and produces a thrill, activity and movement in the body. All instruments of wire and gut…represent the sound of earth”; “The sound of air is wavering, it’s form zigzag…It has a tendency to kindle the fire of the heart…” Hazrat Inayat Khan posits that “the sound of earth and air has strength and power”. The song is built with these two elemental sounds, with the intention that they might prompt in the listener -while learning the song via audio recording- a sense of strength and activity in the body, and a kindling of the heart center. -These are also the images and sensations the lyrics attempt to prompt.

Credits: Formwela 1

Producer, Arranger: esperanza spalding
Producer: PHOELIX
Producer: Raphael Saadiq
Engineers: Eben Hoffer, Hotae Alexander Jang, Bryan Matheson
Mix Engineer: Fernando Lodeiro
Mastering: Oscar Zambrano

esperanza spalding: Upright Bass, Piano, Vocals
PHOELIX: Rhodes, Vocals
Thrive Choir: Vocals

Formwela 2

gentle vibrational embrace as airs in the room soak-in the latent undercurrent able to envelop and dilate the clench of interpersonal, woe, grief, and/or aggression. 

To be discreetly incorporated into a home-scene where interpersonal dynamics are veering toward an all out burn-down. Primarily to be used as back/ ground music, re-reminding you that, despite the present clench or woe or ache or loss or fight or grief, your back is in fact got (back) and the good ground is ever-available (ground). Widens the aperture of receptivity to that omni-present field of restorative light permeating all things at all times in all places. Featuring Ganavya Doraiswamy.

Some of the ingredients in Formwela 2: 

– Repetitive, predictable harmonic pattern and form, no sudden shifts: these compositional/arrangement design is based on criteria cited in various studies as contributing to a sense of calmness. Bolette Daniels Beck ( describes these compositional qualities as matching “the sensitivity of the nervous system locked in a freeze response (i.e. low degree of variation and stimulation) and to provide a sense of home or center (i.e., soloist performing a melody accompanied by orchestra or synthesizer).

– Repetitive descending unison melody, sung in unison: while the melody rises at times in consonant arcs, the majority of the melody is moving down. With the intention of creating a sonic palette for the listener to project into, this compositional ingredient is intended to reflect a sense of coming together, and winding down. 

Soloist accompanied by ensemble and choir: The soloist’s vocal melodies present as a morphing, moving, ever-adjusting individual in relationship to a low-intensity constant (the accompaniment). With this compositional choice, we hope to create a representation of human-variability ebbing and flowing in harmonious relationship with their environment. 

– Middle/Low range of female voice, energetic peaks and lulls in solo arc: Vocalist Ganavya Doraiswamy predominantly sings in the middle and low range of her voice (Polyvagal theory suggests -as I understand it anyway- that this range of human vocalization is believed to cue the social-engagement system to hone-in on conspecific vocalizations. This state is associated with stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system). The arcs and lulls of intensity throughout the solo mirror the variations of the breathing patterns and HRV associated with social interactions in a physiologically safe-state. 

Credits: Formwela 2 (ft. Ganavya)

Producer, Arranger: esperanza spalding
Producer: PHOELIX
Producer: Raphael Saadiq
Engineer, Field Recordings, Sound Design: Eben Hoffer
Engineer: Hotae Alexander Jang, Bryan Matheson
Mix Engineer: Fernando Lodeiro
Mastering: Oscar Zambrano

esperanza spalding: Piano, Vocals
Ganavya Doraiswamy: Vocals
Thrive Choir: Vocals
James Greeley: Bone Whistle
LaMont Hamilton: Bells
Chris Sholar: Electric Guitar
Steve Turre: Conch-Shells
Justin Tyson: Drums, Percussions

Formwela 3

a re-membering with the sun’s vast and perpetual blessing as evidenced by one’s own aliveness and capacity for creating within self and community an un-corruptible home-planet

For releasing the heaviness of a seemingly endless blue state. As the weight of holding it all together rains itself free, the blues becomes beautiful in its depth and immensity -becomes a personal sky, receiving and evidencing the sun’s promise of daily renewal and abundance. The senses of spacial awareness become ensuppled to an atmosphere of vastness, steadily breathing and surrounding and available to all things at all times in all places.

Some of the ingredients in Formwela 3: 

esperanza’s musical response to the question: what would help me feel better after some intense shit had just taken place with my family all stuck at home? This one got wrought by following each musical “next” while responding to that question as a compositional prompt.

Credits: Formwela 3

Producer, Arranger: esperanza spalding
Producer: PHOELIX
Producer: Raphael Saadiq
Engineers: Eben Hoffer, Hotae Alexander Jang
Mix Engineer: Fernando Lodeiro
Mastering: Oscar Zambrano

esperanza spalding: Upright Bass, Piano, Vocals, Synthesizer
Leo Genovese: Piano
PHOELIX: Piano, Synthesizer, Hammond B3, Rhodes, Xylophone, Vocals
Wayne Shorter: Saxophone
Justin Tyson: Drums, Vocals, Percussions