Tom Kenyon

Lament For Whales: A Shaman’s Song

This musical idea came to me after an unexpected encounter with a pod of Pilot Whales off the coast of Fiji during a short and informal ecological study of a small remote island called Namena.

Swimming in the midst of about twenty or so large whales was a truly mind altering experience, and I felt inspired to write a musical piece that expressed my awe and wonder. I tentatively called this piece Lullaby For Whales, but as I immersed myself into the collective consciousness of whales and dolphins, I became increasingly depressed. There was no question in my mind that the whales and dolphins on our planet were in a state of extreme distress. I began to read, in detail, oceanographic studies and reports by marine scientists who worked with these amazing sea mammals, and the news was not good-not good at all.

Finally, after about a week of personal anguish while trying to make the composition “work”, the tonality of the piece clearly changed to an odd mix of both a major and minor key.

As with some of my musical projects in the past, my wife, Judi, was an indispensable ally as I discussed my thoughts, feelings and impressions. Through this dialog it became clear to both of us that this piece was not a lullaby but a lament. With this shift of perspective, the name of the composition was changed to Lament For Whales.

Shortly after listening to the foundation tracks for the piece, which included the sounds of humpback whales that I had vocally created and a live recording I had made of ocean waves from a stretch of shoreline on Maui, I began to have psychic impressions of an ancient shaman singing to a pod of humpback whales in a remote area in Alaska.

These impressions were unfolding in my mind during the calving season of humpback whales in the waters off Maui where Judi and I were temporarily living at the time. We just happened to be near a part of the Maui Marine Preserve called “The Nursery.” This stretch of ocean near us was literally brimming with baby humpbacks and their mothers.

The impressions of this shaman grew so strong I could see him in my minds’ eye.  One evening around 3AM I went down into my makeshift studio and recorded his voice. It was a poignant moment for me because there was so much pathos in his voice.

I call these types of vocalizations proto-languages, because they are a quasi form of language. Like true languages they convey meaning, but the meaning is very relative to the one perceiving the sound patterns.

My perception was that the shaman was singing to some of his old friends, a few humpbacks whales that he had known for many decades. His song was both a soulful acknowledgement and an acceptance that his cetacean friends would soon be leaving this world. Part of his sadness was that his great grandchildren would never see them and would only know of them through stories told by tribal elders, since the whales would be physically gone from this world (i.e., extinct) in one or two generations. In the last refrain of the song to his humpback friends, the shaman wishes them a good journey into the other worlds (i.e., the spirit worlds).

At the end of the piece, the sounds of whales are gone as is the voice of the shaman. Only the sounds of the ocean waves remain indicating that humans have disappeared from this world as well.

I believe we are witnessing a great shift in the biological reality of Earth as well as the cultural realities of our civilization as we come to terms with climate change (whatever the reasons may be) and the increasing loss of so many species of plants and animals.

Lament For Whales is a song from the spirit worlds that might or might not be prophetic in nature. If we humans do not change how we interact with the oceans of our planet then I think the Lament will surely become a reality.

You can hear this shaman’s Lament For Whales by clicking on the link below.

After the link to this audio file you can find a list of some conservancy organizations that are actually doing something to improve the quality of the oceans.

I encourage you to take a look at these organizations and perhaps consider donating something to those you feel aligned with.

Lament For Whales: a Shaman’s Song

Recording Engineer: Tom Kenyon
Mastering Engineer: Lynn Peterson, Maui Recording

Click here to listen to and/or download Lament For Whales

Oceana

Oceana is the largest international organization focused solely on ocean conservation, Oceana works on a limited number of very specific campaigns that can achieve measurable results such as reducing turtle deaths from scallop fisheries and petitioning retailers to stop selling unsustainable marine animal products. Oceana also enlists a large team of “e-activists” referred to as “Wavemakers” who send out letters and petitions in support of conservation initiatives. www.oceana.org

Ocean Conservancy

The Ocean Conservancy educates the public and advocates policy changes to prevent activities that threaten oceanic life and, by extension, human life as well. In addition to organizing an annual international ocean cleanup, Ocean Conservancy has joined forces with a popular multi-platform campaign called One World/One Ocean that works to inspire millions of people worldwide to join the movement to restore and protect the world’s oceans. www.oceanconservancy.org

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is dedicated to marine science, with five departments focusing on ocean life, coastal oceans, climate change and deep ocean exploration. Woods Hole has earned a reputation for being one of the most influential ocean conservation organizations in the world with three large research vessels carrying scientists out into the field to study erosion, water circulation, pollution and other events that impact marine life. www.whoi.edu

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

This is one of the oldest, largest and most influential centers for oceanic research, education and public services in the world. Scripps is connected with the University of California San Diego and oversees the world’s largest privately funded network for observing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and also runs the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation (CMBC). www.scripps.ucsd.edu

Deep Sea Conservation Coalition

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition is an alliance of over 70 smaller international organizations that work together to influence legislation that can protect and preserve the oceans, like calling on the United Nations to place a moratorium on trawling the bottom of the high seas to protect vulnerable species and ecosystems.  www.savethehighseas.org

Greenpeace

I originally had Greenpeace listed as a non-profit organization that benefits the world’s oceans, and while I still feel they do valuable work, I am greatly offended by their publicity stunt that did irreparable damage to the Nazca lines in Peru, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. In my opinion, ecological activists need to be more respectful of ancient archaeological sites even in the midst of their zeal to help raise public awareness about the perils facing our ecosystem.