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Michael D. Karr


After coming into this incarnation under the shadow of Mount Shasta, California in '66, Michael D Karr began playing piano at the age of 6. His first lessons were with Mary Jane Motter who brought him up through the basics with heavy emphasis on the exercises of Czerny. His playing was confined at that time to elementary pieces of Clementi, Bach, Beethoven, and Grieg.

In elementary school, he added elementary voice training and began studying the E-flat alto saxophone where he achieved the first chair in the Honor Bands. During this period he also began to explore the harmonies of Prokofiev and Chopin. As his studies progressed he eventually left off playing classical music entirely, and instead began exploring the forms of the rock music of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, UFO and The Beatles - and psychedelics. In high school he formed a band with other musicians (Gino Lopes-bass, Steve Pitts-drums, and Mike Miller-guitar ("Michael Miller Crusade") and they named their short-lived band "Prophet", taking the name from the Prophet line of synthesizers which he used in his performances. Around this time he also began using Rhodes electric pianos as well. It was during this phase of his development that he attended his first opera, "Lucia di Lammermoor", and began studying jazz improvisation techniques under Jerry Murphy ("The Jerry Murphy Quartet"), examining the jazz tonalities of Thelonius Monk and the virtuosity of Oscar Peterson.

During his later years of high school, he again broadened his horizons with the exploration of choral music, Broadway show tunes, madrigals and vocal jazz ensembles, gaining immensely from the teachings of Fred Weber, a teacher who has been honoured many times for outstanding musicianship and teaching from places such as the Berkeley School of Music. Michael could be heard hammering out show tunes and jazz in his lunchtime jam sessions with Ron Mesa who is still providing the world with "A New Set of Standards".

In his early years at U.C.Berkeley, he began to explore other forms of classical composition including Bartok and Scriabin, Pachelbel and Monteverdi, Wagner and Verdi; tracing the history of music through Gregorian Chants, Minnesingers, Madrigals, and Opera. At times he would sink into the Silence of John Cage, or reluctantly pluck and bow on his reproduction-Stradivarius. During his travels within the United States (San Francisco/Berkeley, Boston, New York, New Orleans), he began entering the paths of Magick and Mysticism - immersing himself deeper into the realms of unorthodox tonalities and notations, including his own developments into the system of Scriabin's Mysterium and Aleister Crowley's initiatory system of Magick. It was at this time that he began to develop his own still-unpublished original systems of writing, musical notation, and tonal analysis. After publishing a book of his poetry and artwork, he began to develop the odd and unusual habit of painting, never using brushes - only knives.

He quickly tired of the North American continent, and began traveling the world in earnest, taking up residence in France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece, Palestine, Egypt, and many other points in between. While in Italy he began casually studying percussion techniques as well, including Bongos. In those days, he could have been seen hanging out in various clubs, bars, and recording studios with jazz musicians from the Montreaux circuit and Ceremonial Magicians within the Parisian back-alley Blues-bars, and rock musicians in the hash-cafes of Amsterdam. His public performances were eventually abandoned entirely to focus upon his own individual growth. He began for the first time to dabble in the music of Rachmaninov, Brahms, Bach, and Sibelius; as well as plunge into the depths of C.G.Jung's archetypes.

After many years and speaking many tongues, he returned to the United States to continue his formal studies at U.C.Berkeley - only this time he occupied himself with the sciences of Astrophysics, Mathematics, and Chemistry. He also took his first step down the road of Stanislavski's Method under the insightful eye of John Fisher ("Medea: The Musical", etc) and was seen both acting and directing in underground theatre of the obscure and absurd. After leaving the Bay Area, he resumed his travels, this time northwards where he met and subsequently began studying classical music again under the instruction of Dr. Sylvie Beaudette (Women in Music Festival, "Liptak-Beaudette Duo") who introduced him to the French Impressionist movement and, most notably, to the works of Debussy and Ravel. At that time he also began his introduction to the works of Mozart. Subsequent travels in Europe only deepened his love for the music of the Nationalist and Romantic movements, revisiting Grieg and Sibelius. He was frequently seen walking through the snow-covered headstones of the cemeteries of Europe - quite at home among the ravens and bones.

After a period of relative musical starvation in Los Angeles, he again resumed his travels towards the North, where some say he has gone completely mad. It has been rumoured that he evokes and channels the spirits of the dead, gaining knowledge directly from the dead composers themselves - although some feel he's just being fooled by Satan, masquerading among his many forms. Yet others have told tales of a mad scientist frantically working to develop a form of artificial intelligence, perhaps to take over the world with an army of computerized robots. Still others have whispered in the darkness and shadows of his allegiance to Surt and Aurgilmir, the Nordic giants of eld watching over their dominions of fire and ice. Still others are convinced he spends his time over the dread rites of Cthulu, unlocking the seals that guard the very Abyss. Whether there exists any truth in such insane ravings or not, is hard to discern for it has been many years since he has performed, or even been seen in public. What is felt to be highly reliable, however, is that he presently makes his home in California surrounded by his war-kitten, Inanna, strange reptiles named after Rabelaisian characters, and birds of unusual musical abilities. What use is there, indeed, to dwell upon such fantastic rumours when sometimes under the full moon, the strains of Bartok and Scriabin can be heard above the shrieks of phantoms and ghouls and the howls of werewolves - and are now being made available for the first time from the internet servers of the Piano Society.


Recordings

Scriabin - Mazurkas 
Scriabin - Morceaux 
Wagner - Ankunft bei den schwarzen Schwanen