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A short introduction to Archetypal Music


In the Native American belief system the song is sung because of its magical powers. Some songs are given to humans in the course of visions. It is not the receiving human who is credited with inventing the song but the guardian spirits.

Archetypal music’s symbol is a note that is set free from a pre-established duration

1 - What is Archetypal Music?

Archetypal music (AM) is how I named a family of related experiences and resources (constituting a process) that help to preserve a primal flow, enhance the consciousness, and in general deepen and enjoy a lot more the time spent on the creative work involved in music-making.  
I believe that the notions that constitute AM may resonate with, and help other musical caminantes in their own quests.

The result is that of experiencing a music that stays alive and keeps changing, always offering new possibilities to the mind of the musician by delaying and detaining crystallization for as long as possible, and as such enabling the musician/composer to stay more intensely in the present moment.


2 - Waves : notation

Change is one of the main features of AM, and its notation is one of an ongoing process, a headspring for further creativity.

Similar to a ferment, its purpose is to keep alive as much potential (directions, alternatives, choices) as it can. Crystallazation is at a minimum.

For this purpose AM makes use of undetermined durations:



The six basic undetermined durations

The tail after the notehead points to the idea of a soundwave and to the idea of the passage of time. The type of notehead and the lenght of the tail indicate a relative and contextual duration.

Here is an example of a whole phrase and what it can sound like:

Hof Eleusine.png

3 - House : the seat of the Gift

A Gift is a fragment, an idea, an illumination that is given ‘out of the blue’ and claims our full attention. It is not the result of an effort of the mind or willpower.

The gift’s desire is to be explored in its tendencies, meditated upon, and most of all, played with. It is a seed that wants to be sown, alive and changing.
I also call this prime element ‘kyo' (voice).

I called “House” the prime configuration whose role is to guard a gift.

Each House is given a name associated to the moment, the day, the phase, the mind, the place or anything else that gives its content the power of being flagged with relevance in spacetime coordinates and as such, the power of recall.


3.1 - Inside the House: Kyo, Anchors, Cantus Firmus

The Kyo is the primary element, the illumination / gift. It is the cornerstone of Archetypal Music. Musically speaking, it could be anything, it´s how we receive it that transforms it into something.

Given music's intrinsic characteristic to expand and ramble in spacetime, the kyo's inevitable desire is to create and/or associate with other elements.

These other elements that may closely follow the kyo-element, I refer to as anchors.

3.2 - Anchors

Any element, a chord, an arpeggio, a related phrase, an opposing phrase, generated by vicinity of the kyo-element can constitute an anchor.
A kyo and the related anchors form an organic continuum: while playing them, they feel like living and transforming parts of a whole.

3.3 - Cantus Firmus

A special kind of element comes with a marked reference to a pedal note.

It could be just that, a pedal tone, or any group of notes that serve as harmonic pedal, or an ostinato-like pattern (usually in the lower frequencies), a canvas-like texture, an atmosphere.

Any ground, water or sky element that serves as a base for other events to unfurl.

Such element I call cantus firmus (abbrev. cf); not in the sense used in Baroque music, but only in its ethymological sense of "steady voice".

4 - Walking : Improvisation

One can see AM as a way of organizing change and handling creative ferments. But at its core AM is also a way of bringing together improvisation and thematic material.

‘Walking’ is really just a word for improvising, only with the added implication of moving from one place to another. The emphasis on movement points to a free and open form of organizing the material for a play (= piece, performance).

Music is created while “walking” (= moving, transforming) from A to B, from one element to another, or from one house to another. The means of doing it is to play a live-streaming composition (=improvisation).

A House transmits its energy and forms to the Walking through the medium of the player’s creative mind. Along with its essence, it offers / suggests a harmonic context, melodic contours, speed, mood, rhythmic gestures etc.. , that help to inspire and shape the Walking.


5 - Flow: Form

I refer to the open form of organizing the material for a play as ‘Flow’.
Here is an example of how a semi-planned Flow can be visualized:

Flow diagram.png

(In this diagram, each of the connecting lines signifies a Walk.)

A flow can be used as reference, a nautical map to be heeded only to the desired extent during the actual play, involving multiple choices and a high level of unpredictability.  

One can plan a very different flow with the same elements by shifting them in a modular way, like building blocks.

The constant of Change, however, is kept alive up to the actuality of a play. Only the play itself has the last word, and it can revolutionise the planned flow.

A great variety can manifest accordingly, not only in the different ways a group of music ideas is performed, but also in the structure originated from their interplay, structure itself being at this point like a mandala to be blown away after completion, or exposed to breaking and regrouping, simplifying or enriching with new elements (or elements from other structures), in an infinite dance / game of variation and creation.


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