1Trail of Tears Trilogy
An Exploration of Creativity Facilitated by Hypnosis: The Trail of Tears Trilogy
Institute for Psychoscience
P.O. Box 1654
Mount Shasta, California 96067
This paper relates the story of the Cherokee people’s Trail of Tears in musical form, created by a process of hypnosis. The artists are both the hypnotist (author) and the performing artist (Billy Gonzalez). The hypnotist, after a period of priming with narrative features of the events and his own original musical elements, an orchestral piece originally composed as in a two part work: Psalms of Joy and Sorrow. This piece and its elements were used to prime the performing artist, in the setting of a fully equipped recording studio. It was introduced as sheet music, played by the performing artist, and reiterated on the piano and vocally by the hypnotists during the creation of the three part piece. In addition, the performing artist, prior to hypnosis, was given two piano scores to play on the piano, chosen to represent forms of musical expression that would be integrated in the piece. They were Toccata and Fugue in D-Minor, by J. S. Bach, and Passepied, by Claude Debussy. Before each induction images and stories of the thematic material were shown and described to the performing artist. The performing artist was given specific details of the musical structure and forms that would be realized in each part of the piece.
The performing artist, who we will just call Billy, and the hypnotist, who we will call Mark, was both very hypnotizable, and could be visualize and represent various thematic and musical elements that went into the piece. After priming, an indirect induction was performed with progressive muscle relaxation and visualization, and entrance into a multi-sensory hypnotic scenario chosen and described by Billy prior to the induction. Thereafter, the scenario of the three phases in the Cherokee history, leading up to the Trail of Tears, were described and visualized. Billy went into a deep trance, and Mark self-hypnotized in the same induction into a lighter trance. Mark played the piano during some parts of the actual recording of the piece, but this was not recorded. The critical elements of the method was: 1) The repetitive suggestion that the song already existed and that we were, essentially, reproducing a song that already existed, 2) The repetitive visual and auditory evocation of Billy and Mark listening to the song in the future, 3) The mutual hypnotic state of Mark and Billy, with Mark directing the process and, at times, giving specific suggestions and instructions, particularly in the instrumental arrangement, 4) The emergence out of the trance state and listening to the completed song.
The story of the Trail of Tears is well known. The story used in the hypnotic sessions described some of the events, and specifically addressed the Cherokee tribe, the conditions and beliefs it enjoyed before the arrival of the white man (Part 1: The Morning After), the difficulties created by the effort to “assimilate” the tribe and the conflicts and discordance just prior to its forced migrations from Tennessee to Oklahoma (Part 2: Where Storms Graze), and the uprooting of the tribe from a land to which they were deeply connected, the suffering , death, and murder (which occurred as they attempted to bury their dead), and the thunder, which was the omen of the suffering to come, that was heard as the white-haired Chief Going Snake led the journey on pony as the journey began (Part 3: Trail of Tears).
There were a few salient elements of the hypnotic creative process that are noteworthy: 1) Billy had amnesia for songs after hypnosis, and after recording “Where Storms Graze,” did not believe he had played the song, 2) Although relying on many elements, the finished product was totally new and different, 3) It was not at all clear who had primarily composed, arranged, and mixed the music, although Billy, possibly due to dissociation, in general insisted it was Mark, 4) Billy had written no instrumental music of this kind, either before or since, and, although a professional performing artist, he never played the music again after the piece was recorded, feeling that it was, in a sense, foreign. He never attempted to compose more music of this kind, and he never asked to enter into the hypnotic process again. He had taken it as a favor to me to record music I had composed, and continued to think of it in this way, 5) The music was not in a style that was enjoyed or appreciated by Billy, and he had no desire to listen to it, 6) Although I listened to the music many times, and generally have a good memory for music, I had a difficult time committing it to memory, and 7) Neither Billy or Mark felt a sense of agency in creating the music. I felt I had contributed elements, while Billy felt totally estranged.
The purpose of this paper is not that the piece become widely popular or appreciated by any audience. The purpose is to underline the link between creativity and the unconscious, to point out that more than one person can enter into the unconscious process, and to question the basis for creativity. Might it be possible that, by final causation, a creation in music or art can simply emerge by describing and assuming its existence in the future? Might it be possible to enhance creative potential using the kind of process described here? Might be possible to firmly hold a determination, ranging from the existence of a creation before it has been actualized to a future goal, in such a way as to increase its potential for realization?
Perhaps our Trail of Tears Trilogy is of little value as a musical composition. It is oddly foreign, even to its listeners. It might represent something we would care to erase form out collective memory. We offer a brief Appendix for those who care to remember. In any case, we offer it freely, with no expectation of recognition or reward.
Music Available at:
Appendix: Remnants of a Lost World