Maurice Ravel and The Living Inquiries

One of my favorite musical compositions is, “Le Tombeau de Couperin,” by Maurice Ravel. He wrote it not only as a tribute to François Couperin, a French Baroque composer, but also as a tribute to Ravel’s father, as well as some of Ravels’ close friends who died while fighting in World War I. He originally wrote this as a suite for solo piano, in six movements, between the years 1914 – 1917.

Ravel orchestrated four of the suites in 1919, and these are the versions I originally heard and fell in love with. I absolutely loved the themes, the melodies, the ebbs and flows of these suites, and I was so touched by the beauty I felt while listening to this music. Later on, I came across the solo piano versions, and was amazed at the creativity they revealed. Those are a lot of words to describe something I could never accurately describe – let’s just say that this work touched my heart very deeply. It led me on a further exploration of Ravel’s work in particular, and classical music in general, an exploration that has greatly enriched my life.

OK, so what does Maurice Ravel, and in particular, “Le Tombeau de Couperin,” have to do with The Living Inquiries, as created by Scott Kiloby?

The one aspect that I appreciate the most about Ravel’s music is his ability to give the listener the space to feel, as opposed to telling the listener how to feel. This is such a crucial distinction! His music doesn’t dictate, it allows. In this way, Ravel is honoring the listener, and allowing him/her to have whatever experience they are having while listening to his creation.

So too with The Living Inquiries. Each person is allowed their particular flavor of what they might be experiencing, and the facilitators aren’t giving advice or manipulating them in any way (ideally!). All that is happening is that the client is being facilitated in taking an honest look at whatever is happening in their present experience, no matter what words, images or sensations/energies might be present. This not only honors the process, it honors the client, just as Ravel is honoring the listener with the space to feel whatever comes up.

Ravel, being a composer during the French Impressionist period, paid tribute to the Baroque composer Couperin by adopting the Baroque form for these suites. This form is much more structured than what would normally be heard in other music from the Impressionist period (late 19th, early 20th centuries), but within this more structured form, Ravel was able to devise the most intricate, delicate and, well, simply beautiful music. Some of the suites are heartbreakingly beautiful, which is understandable, as each was composed in tribute to a different late friend. Either version, solo piano or orchestrated, is most profoundly affecting.

It is also apparent that The Living inquiries are evolving over time to allow more freedom in the types of questions that can be asked by the facilitators, thereby freeing the creative intuition of each facilitator. When first learned, the Inquiries can seem somewhat formulaic, but as demonstrated recently, these are indeed “Living” Inquiries, expanding and growing as they change to meet the challenges presented by each client. The range of questions that are being asked, and the shifting and evolving of the inquiries, is what gives meaning to the name, “Living Inquiries.”

However, all this takes place within a basic structure, so that we as facilitators don’t lose sight of the purpose of the Inquiries – a sincere looking into present experience. Within this structure, each facilitator can allow their creative, intuitive flow, permitting them to tune in to the client in a unique and responsive way. This is the art of the facilitation. The Living Inquiries are unquestionably an art form, as opposed to a science. I am so enjoying watching how this art form is evolving, with the input of the community that is such an integral part of this process.

In, “Le Tombeau de Couperin,” and many other compositions, Ravel makes extensive use of the dynamics of music, often with dramatic results. He uses the entire range of loudness and softness, struggle and peace, drama and calm, sometimes in surprising and startling ways.

So too, events can unfold in our lives in surprising and startling ways, evoking unexpected emotions,sensations, contractions, words and images. Sometimes these surprises hit us with dramatic force, and we can feel quite overwhelmed. The Inquiries present another opportunity to simply stop, rest, and investigate what is actually happening in our present experience. Much if not all of that overwhelm can be mitigated by having some structure with which to work.

There is something about music that touches me so deeply, and as I’m sure you are aware, cannot be put adequately into words. However, I’ll try a few here. “Le Tombeau de Couperin” seems to unlock that creative impulse that lies deep in the heart of each of us, always present, sometimes dormant, that can fill this One Space which we all are with the most reverent, beautiful and sacred vibration. That is the gift at the heart of music, where the illusory separation between composer and listener vanishes.

The Living Inquiries give us the opportunity to explore our uniqueness in the same way. When the various words, images and sensations/energies are simply seen for what they are, the gifts that have simply been waiting for our discovery of them are unlocked, allowing us to know the truth; that what we have been looking for, seeking for, with all our hearts, has been here all the time.

It is at this point that music, The Living Inquiries, the sound of a rushing stream, the call of the shama thrush, airplanes flying overhead, newspaper headlines, anything you can literally imagine, becomes a conduit for realizing our Oneness with all that is.

[If you would like a major treat, have a listen to the 2nd Movement, Adagio Assai, of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major. Put on the headphones and enjoy!]

2 thoughts on “Maurice Ravel and The Living Inquiries

  1. Dear Paul,
    What a wonderful metaphor, for life. Your writing touches me as deeply as Le Tombeau de Couperin and The Living Inquiries have touched you. I long to sit in your presence and share our wonders together.

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