JOHN CAHILL: Music, Myth, Sex and Shamanism

Those of you who log in here on a fairly regular basis will know of my affection for John Cahill – a friend and all round ‘good bloke’ who never lets his audio get in the way of his musical pleasure. John is completely without pretension or elitism and the breadth of his musical tastes is extraordinary. John – Thank you for another thought-provoking piece.


Music roots goes back to when we learned to understand sounds, communicate and imagine. Music has played a part in our cultures, history and lives. It can bring back memories from the past, stir emotions and the very act of creating music together can foster understanding of different communities.

Music at a basic level is an interplay (dance) between rhythm and melody! The rhythm provides the foundation to which melodies are built upon.

As a young teenager I felt alienated. I did not have a sense of belonging. It was through my love of music that I started to belong. I traded tapes with people across the world, sharing that passion for music I bought the latest albums every week without fail and saw so many bands play live; soon all my closest friends shared that similar passion.

For me the connection between Myth and Music makes sense. I can clearly see it in the Blues and Rock music; my lack of knowledge makes it harder to see in Jazz and Classical music. Myths have been present in all cultures and often music plays a direct role within the Myth (The Sirens from The Odyssey) Music either directly or indirectly has borrowed/stolen from myth to create music and legends.

The role of the Devil not only finds itself in blues but also classical music. Along with Robert Johnson, Paganini is supposed to of made a deal with the devil – but anyone has to practise that hard and then sell his soul to the devil well I guess the devil must have seen him coming!

The Greek use of Tragedy unfortunately finds its way in music all too often. Just think of the talent that has past away in the last 40 years before their time.

The primal link between sex and music is clear to see. Just watch the film The Red Violin, Elvis shaking his hips or Hendrix playing his guitar. Music has a raw sexuality and is present within Classical music (Ravel Bolero) Hip hop, Soul, Jazz (It does not mean a thing it ain’t got that swing!) and of course rock.

Shamanic traditions often use ritual, music and dance to create altered states. Today are modern Shamans are either musicians or DJ’s. Loud pulsating music; individuals’ dancing into a frenzy with mixes laid down by the DJ. I remember often coming back home from a good concert feeling in a slightly altered state (and no I did not take any drugs)

I guess in the end we can see music from many different angles; but in the end I guess for me its power to touch deeply cannot be denied.

John Cahill

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