Music: Acoustic Ocean
Acoustic Ocean debut CD blends Celtic harp, guitars, piano and dulcimers
ACOUSTIC OCEAN is comprised of two body-mind therapists and yoga instructors who just happen to also have been folk singers for two decades and five albums, so they really know their stuff in both fields. This new CD is already Top 10 on the NAR/ZMR chart.
Embrace the music of Acoustic Ocean as healing energy and healthful entertainment. Relax to the compositions specifically designed by two multi-faceted therapists to improve body and mind well-being. Listen to their album Light Returning and find life-changing harmony.
Acoustic Ocean’s Peggy Morgan and Bette Phelan are both longtime musicians, but also yoga instructors, therapists/counselors in several fields, and developers of a unique therapeutic protocol called SoundBodyMind that combines hands-on healing, hypnotherapy and vocal sounding.
Their music is meant to be enjoyed as a listening experience, but it also is beneficial in supporting relaxation, meditation, healing, sleep, massage, yoga and exercise. According to Phelan, “We made Light Returning to help people access those parts of themselves that are in need of healing, and to bring about a greater sense of balance and harmony in their lives, often facilitating an emotional release.”
This is an hour-long album of eight original compositions that are primarily acoustic and instrumental (occasionally incorporating some wordless vocalizing).
These are musical meditations composed by Morgan on Celtic harp and then expanded and enriched by Phelan into deeply-layered arrangements featuring guitars, hammered and mountain dulcimers, piano, bass, mandolin and the occasional sounds of cello, saxophone, flute and other instruments blended with soothing ocean waves and bird-songs to convey the feeling of the Hawaiian Islands where Acoustic Ocean is based.
“Throughout history humans have faced times of danger, excitement, adrenalin rush and ‘fight or flight’ for survival,” explains Morgan. “But those times are supposed to be quickly over and followed by long stretches of ‘rest and repair.’ In our modern world, however, we often stay pumped up to an abnormal hyper-tension level of stimulation, and sometimes we get stuck there. We need to find ways to relax and unwind, find our true selves, and heal. The music on Light Returning is meant to help expedite that.”
The creators of this music are both experts in the fields of body/mind improvement as well as music. As the folk duo Morgan & Phelan, they spent 20 years touring the United States and released four albums of vocal music (Peggy Morgan & Bette Phelan, Alive in These Hills, Roots of Peace and Celebrations of Love). During those years, in order to stay healthy while traveling so extensively, their daily routine included yoga, meditation, chanting and healthful nutrition. When they stopped touring, they continued to play music, but also pursued careers in the healing arts. Both are Certified Kripalu Yoga Teachers. In addition, Morgan is a Craniosacral therapist who specializes in SomatoEmotional Release, Heart Centered Therapy and Lymphatic Drainage Therapy.
Phelan is a Transpersonal Hypnotherapist and Stress Management Counselor who has produced two highly-effective and well-received CDs: Yoga for Strength, Flexibility, Vitality & Relaxation and Guided Relaxation for Stress Reduction & Deep Sleep (both available at LearnYoga-Online.com). Morgan and Phelan also are the founders and directors of Tropical Tune-Ups (yoga and wellness retreats in Hawaii featuring sound healing).
The music on Light Returning is based on themes -- simple and circular -- initially stated on Celtic harp and then broadened with arrangements that weave a dense tapestry of shifting sound.
The concept is to draw the listener in and engage their mind with the textures and ever-shifting musical montage so that they are freed from thinking about everyday things. Because the themes are short and repeated over and over, the music works similarly to a chanted mantra, a means of quieting the mind and inviting higher states of consciousness. The tunes, which range in length from just under six minutes to nearly ten minutes, are heartfelt, positive, soulful, optimistic and uplifting.
“As the mind lets go of its habitual agenda and the body relaxes, the listener may find the music softening emotional holdings and releasing them from the body,” explains Phelan. “Some of the compositions specifically entrain the lymphatic system of the body. In general, the music is meant to calm the nervous system, assist the body in increasing the immune system, help with digestion, and promote a mental balance. Each person is affected differently because it is a personal healing journey.”
“Our bodies are composed of trillions of cells living together in harmony,” Morgan says. “When there is disharmony within us, we can dispel it and restore order with sound. The reason this is true is because, as quantum physics has shown, we are made up of molecules composed of atoms full of particles and energy giving off vibrations. Music can affect those vibrations in a positive manner which is why we talk about ‘feeling’ the music.”
In their earlier musical incarnation as folk-singers, Morgan and Phelan balanced their on-the-road musical lifestyle with spiritual practices, fitness workouts and healthy diets. “Because of what we were doing in our personal lives, the audiences were picking up on our healthy energy, spirituality and positive feelings. What made it meaningful to us was being fully involved in passing that sense of joy and peace to the listeners through our music,” Phelan states.
An integral part of the New England folk music community for many years, Morgan & Phelan also toured throughout the country playing at festivals, concert series, folk clubs, colleges and schools. In addition to their singer-songwriter performances of original material, they also developed special programs that combined traditional American music with history and stories for presentations at schools, workshops with children, family concerts and museum programs. They released a recording of songs and stories for children, A Festival of Song, as well as an extensive illustrated study guide to support those shows. But in addition to touring across North America, they were invited to perform at the World Expo in Australia where they performed more than 70 concerts for international audiences.
Fast Folk Musical Magazine, a songwriter’s showcase based in New York City, featured Morgan & Phelan and included one of their original songs on the publication’s CD. In addition, compositions by Morgan were recognized with awards from The Great American Song Contest and the John Lennon Song Contest.
Both Morgan and Phelan sang in choirs when they were young, and both were influenced to become singer-songwriters by acoustic guitar-playing older brothers. Morgan was born in Philadelphia and raised a Quaker. “Civil rights was part of my Quaker upbringing, so I quickly gravitated to folk music that was voicing those sentiments at that time.” She was the soprano leader and chief soloist in her high school choir which toured Europe after graduation and performed concerts in major cathedrals. At Brown University she began writing songs which led to playing at coffee houses. Phelan was raised in the Boston-suburb Weston, enjoyed singing in the church choir, and studied piano for a few years before concentrating on guitar. At Dean College she majored in art (focusing on pencil drawings), but also became fascinated by dulcimers, often playing meditative pieces outdoors for their calming effect. When the two musicians first met, they simply played together informally. “But we had this connection,” says Morgan, “and eventually it led us to form a group.”
“Making this new music for the Light Returning CD was a natural transition for us,” Phelan explains. “We always put positive feelings into our music, but now we have taken it a step further by consciously creating therapeutic sounds that support physical balance, emotional release and inner harmony.”
Acoustic Ocean’s music can be purchased at their website (acousticoceanmusic.com), top online stores such as CDbaby.com and Amazon.com, and at numerous digital download locations including iTunes.com and Rhapsody.com. Light Returning is already a Top 10 airplay album on the international New Age/Zone Music Reporter chart.
Photos: Bette Phelan (2nd photo) and Peggy Morgan (3rd photo).