Hello Craig and group members!  My name is Robert (Bob) Vitale . I currently reside in Sierra Madre California.  I'm a professional musician , actor and University educator.  I did my MA in musicology with a focus on Western Medieval and Renaissance music and literature, and Doctoral research in cognition and creativity(music improvisation) at Indiana University.  I have attended numerous public classes at Pacifica over the past few years and feel Pacifica is my next destination to pull all the threads of my studies and life pursuits together through the MA/PHD program in Mythology.  This series of web classes is a great opportunity for me to explore the realm of Myth and Depth Psychology and  see if it is a topic I would like to commit time and monetary resources to at Pacifica.

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  • looks like we're both seeing this course as part of our possible PhD future, and are both heralding from/moving towards creative endeavours.  (i'm thinking about a PhD that would incorporate the creative aspects of narrative medicine.)  

    bonnie talked about the ring cycle, below, which is probably the first thing that comes to mind in classical music re mythology (and assorted other operas such as monteverdi's orfeo).   curious - anything in non-operatic medieval and renaissance music or in improvisation that makes you think of mythology?  just wondering ... (and now, as i type this, curious for myself, too - e.g. what sort of myth/archetype are we connecting with when we listen to, say, miles davis?)

    • Thanks for your thoughtful post!  Yes!, the music texts and lyrics of the  Western medieval and renaissance  eras  are immersed in mythology and alchemy. While most music history text books "dance " around the issue, further investigation reveals a world of symbology,  characters and personages of the past (Greek, Norse, Hebrew, Celtic legends) and "forbidden" human emotions.  Aside from the Church's influence on the music of   these eras,  the secularists of the day created a parallel music tradition through the Troubadors, Troveres, and Meistersingers among others. These roving minstrels created a song and story telling  tradition based on eroticism, defiance of Church canons, nature and morality, using the names of goddesses and gods and their myths as the guise for their social commentaries.. Your question about improv and mythology is a combination of elements I have not considered untill your question.  You have truly awakened and taken my thoughts to a new level of thinking on this subject!  For this I am very grateful to you.  With that said, when I play the piano or guitar and improvise on a tune, I hear in my mind a dialogue between the original tune and the rhythmic, melodic and harmonic changes I'm adding.  I may feel a sense of the " Titan" when I add thick chords and driving rhythmic patterns, or  Venus " beauty" when I feel the pathos of a delicate and undulating ballad melody.  In a way, I do this without "thinking"  and it's more of a  reaction to the needs and wants of Psyche. As far as Miles's playing, in his early years he was a straight ahead bopper-fast lines, loads of notes, hot-fiery breath-taking phrasing.  But, when he found his personal voice, it was cool, detached, minimalistic in note usage with a connected phrasing. It is said that Miles Davis's playing represented melancholy and sadness unlike any other jazz player. Miles was a Destroyer and  Creator archetype in the sense he deconstructed Bop and created the framework of what was to be called " Cool Jazz".  A lot more can be said about his further creative explorations in Jazz that kept the genre alive and vibrant and I'm sure he expressed many other archetypes which I have yet to look into.   I would like to keep the conversation going in the future if you are so inclined.  P.S. I'm spellbound by your interest in narrative medicine, could you elaborate more about it? 


  • Hi Bob. So good to have you with us on this journey. I always correlate music with myth, as I think there is a lot of overlap in how it becomes both a vehicle and container which allows us to experience a wide range of emotion and also provides context for understanding psyche.

    I had the chance to see the opera, Siegfried, a couple of days ago and found myself grappling with the dearth of the feminine, in both story and music, during the first act and part of the second until Siegfried engaged with the bird song and began his transition toward the feminine and finding Brünnhilde. I don't know if you know the story, but it was interesting to me as it had such a powerful effect on Jung in his musings about how the hero archetype must be mitigated vis a vis our egos...

    • Hi Bonnie, Thank you for your engaging response to my introduction. You are a most gracious host in handling the various activities of the Alliance.  I am not yet fluently conversant in the Jungian/Mythological use of imagery or "language"  -for this is a new exploration and journey for me-but with that said, you must be psychic, for my MA thesis was on the operas of R. Wagner and Wagner's influence on F. Nietzsche.  So yes, I am quite familiar with the story and its relationship to the Ring Cycle within Wagner's use of the story.  You have stirred up interests and concepts I had put aside for a number of years concerning this topic and I thank you for the prompt! This class and others I am taking through the Alliance are helping me come up to speed in this new and exciting way of seeing and expressing life, all of which are stepping stones for me to the Mythology degree program at Pacifica. I could go on about the opera and the character of Siegfried, but I'll leave that for perhaps another future post.

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