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Constance Demby

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Biography

Constance Demby is one of the few representatives of the New Age movement (in both her music and her personal philosophies) who consistently creates artistic, highly expressive compositions. Demby was trained in classical music as a child, and her artistic spirit led her to also master several other art forms; at the University of Michigan, she studied painting, sculpture, and music. It was her work as a sculptor that led her to new dimensions of sound. As she was torching a sheet of metal, it roared thunderously, and thus was born the Sonic Steel Instruments: the Whale Sail, and the Space Bass, enormous bowed instruments with deep archetypal resonances. As an innovator in the world of sound, Demby learned a number of ethnic instruments and found ways to use them inventively. She co-founded a unique multimedia group, Central Maine Power Sound & Light, which toured the East Coast from 1971 to 1976 with their "Space Mass" program and other groundbreaking light/sound and planetarium shows. In the late '70s, Demby began to investigate the spiritual life by following a discipline that was focused on the inner light and the inner sound, or Surat Shabd Yoga. She found a special affinity for the hammered dulcimer and discovered that her "prayers would turn into song." These devotional songs formed the basis of her first album, Skies Above Skies. In 1980, Demby, a fifth generation Californian, returned to Marin County north of San Francisco, where she received a warm reception and played concerts to overflow audiences. Here, she founded her own record company, Sound Currents, and released Sunborne, an ambitious five-part tone poem that featured her Sonic Steel instruments, world percussion, synthesizers, hammered dulcimer, and vocals. The mid-'80s brought changes in recording technology with the advent of digital sampled sounds; Demby embraced this electronic revolution to compose contemporary space music using a full range of symphonic instruments, pipe organ, and choral voices. Tapping into her spiritual guidance, she brought through, track by track, Novus Magnificat, the album that many call the most important New Age recording of all time. This album, released in 1986, was one of the first releases on the Hearts of Space record label. Her other albums with Hearts of Space include the devotional Sacred Space Music, the celebratory Set Free, and Aeterna, the emotionally cathartic sequel to Novus Magnificat. Demby says of the artistry and spiritual impact of her music: "Novus Magnificat reached 'up and out' to catch a galactic beam through space. Aeterna is down and into the heart, here and now. Now our society is in the thick of it, and if people do not handle their feelings, we are in trouble. My music is emotional, but it is always redemptive. If my music stirs things up and takes you down into your feelings, it will then transmute, take you up and out again and redeem. If the listener approaches music with 'active listening,' or with full absorption, and if the music has spiritual commitment and depth, then music can blow your mind. It will make you weep. And you will wonder breathlessly,'God, what was that? It did something to me!'" In 2000, after release of a few private label albums, Demby moved from Southern California to Barcelona, Spain, relishing the openness of its people for music and the arts. ~ Carol Wright

Genre
Years Active:

'70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Influenced by this Artist

Contemporaries