Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

All about music, guitar, spirituality, personal development and being happy


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Tour Diary – Dukkha in Cologne

Friends, I write almost at the end of a 20 concert tour in Germany.

I walked around Cologne all day today, in the lovely grey rainy weather. My heart was rather heavy today. Why? I got dumped. Yes, a wonderfully lovely lady decided that having a guy on the road was not right for her.

After months of saying “hang in there, I’ll be back soon”, she couldn’t stand the wait. I can’t say I blame her either. Heartbreak once again.

Tommy Emmanuel himself told me “the road is where it all breaks down”.

The temptation to suppress this pain today with either having a drink, a cigarette or to eat myself blind coarsed through my veins. Yet somehow, I just wanted to be as intelligent and semi-enlightened today as possible. I know from my Sedona Method / Release technique that a healthy thing to do is actually welcome the emotion – which allows a release to happen easily.

As I walked around the Cologne Dome I contemplated people who are REALLY suffering to start and get perspective. A good friend’s daughter was recently murdered and I cannot begin to imagine his pain. My own mom is aging and in physical discomfort. One of my best friends has no family left, and very much needs his friends. There are people suffering daily, feeling worse than me, maybe due to a political or economic situation….I think I will live through my small discomfort.

Upon arriving home, I googled the term “life is suffering” and stumbled upon on an about.com page on what the Buddha called “Dukkha”. It was interesting to see that it is not really “suffering” as much as it is a certain type of phenomena and idea about the scope of pleasure and suffering, without so much of a negative or positive label. That’s my dummy explanation. Read for yourself:

Article on Dukkha

One type of Dukkha is impermanence. I have seen it myself…how success wanes and fades, people pets and places come and go – anything we think is a “given” is sure to change. As it is not exactly suffering – and the writer of the article urges us to grasp “Dukkha” as a new word in our vocabulary.

With no claim to anything scholarly here (I am just a dummy looking for a little inner peace) I simply watch the fading in and out of events and people in my life. The newness of creative bursts come and go, gigs come and go, friends move out of town, parents age. Places I have called home change into other places. Cats who have been my loving companions age and die. Businesses that were my lifeblood seem less interesting. Love affairs change, grow and maybe dissolve. Whether they dissolve or not, they are in constant flux…

On the other side of the coin – there’s always more, there are new friends coming, tomorrow’s a new day, bodies heal and things change for the better too. New tunes appear, new business ideas and creativity simply “appears”. People appear in one’s life as if by magic. This is not meant as a positive pep talk – it is an observation of the principle of “it never stays the same”.

For now I’ll watch, listen breathe and try to find peace in this moment and contemplate what little I understand of Dukkha.


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Quantum Physics and Music: Upward and Downward Causation

Greets friends. As I am wrapping up my November 2009 tour, I am actually feeling a sense of relief, and finding space to dig deep once again into creativity, meditation and life’s meaning.

While touring, I have to pay attention to mundane aspects such as driving, soundcheck, and playing the gig. πŸ™‚

A thinker who I am very much enjoying lately is Dr. Amit Goswami. He was interviewed in the hit movie “What the Bleep” and has been a professor of physics at Oregon State University for 32 years.

He shares a view of history with us as to how, why and when a purely mechanical / material view of our universe came into being.

Apparently for scientists to have freedom they had to separate “mind and matter” so as not to step on the church’s toes. These are just a few of the insights and perspectives he offers into understanding our current thinking.

The big question of course is where does “consciousness” come into our life picture. Is it in the material universe, is it separate, and are events and things we see in fact solid and real?

Part 1 of 3 parts:

But that is only the beginning. I can’t possibly explain in detail what he talks about – so check it out for yourself.

What struck me in this series is his description of “upward causation” and “downward causation”.

Essentially the “upward causation” idea is evident in our universe that particles make atoms, which make molecules, which make elements and ultimately make our brain. So small particles build bigger bigger bigger – from the bottom up.

But what about the consciousness we experience? Where does it come from? Is it separate from the materials composing our brains & bodies? Does it precede it or follow it. Duh. Religion & philosophy 101, I know πŸ™‚

Downward causation suggests that there is a higher reality, consciousness or God which precedes matter and that maybe the matter is even within that consciousness as a “possibility” that only seems real when we observe it. The idea of a God on a throne up high giving orders is a primitive idea, but scientific evidence is in fact showing that downward causation is real.

I considered what he was saying to see if it somehow applied to music.

What struck me is that music is more than the “assemblage” of notes built through upward causation. An unforgettable melody for example, is a perfect example of “downward causation”. Great composers regardless of genre experience this. That’s the melody being whispered in the ear, not a clever mind thinking of a melody.

“Groove” comes through downward causation too. Groove is an essence and feeling and come down from a higher, intuitive realm. You can’t build a groove that touches the soul through sheer mechanics, or metronome practice. And you can’t slap pitches together and hope that a good melody will be the result.

This also perfectly explains how a performance that touches the soul need not be technically perfect. With downward causation in music – even the simplest, least correct music can be a vehicle for emotional communication. Likewise, a technically perfect performance built through upward causation can lack the consciousness and communication that we wish to experience in a piece of music.

It is fascinating to see my musical ideals corroborated by quantum physics. It’s just so cool.

The expression “follow your bliss” now makes even more sense than ever.

Until next time…


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How to Meet Adam Rafferty in Your Hometown While on Tour

Friends, I digress from my “meaning of life” blog posts to something a little more hands on.

As many of the Law of Attraction books and teachers say, “Ask and it is Given”. So, I am broadcasting a request to you and the universe, and I have faith in the process! This will be really cool to see this come together!

The joy of my life is traveling, playing music and making new friends. I’d like YOU to be part of it.

I’d like to come and do a live performance just for you in or near your hometown while on tour. I am trying something never before done…using the internet, youtube, twitter and facebook (and emailings) with fans directly.

I am still looking for an official manager and booking agent, so in the meantime I turn to my fans and friends for gig & concert venue suggestions.

Please email concert / gig ideas to

venues [AT] adamrafferty [DOT] com

I am in the process of building up my worldwide touring, and it’s tough work to make all the phone calls digging up gigs, finding good places, etc. You probably know the places close to you that would be good to play.

It can be a concert hall, a club, a church, a school, even a house concert – it would be my pleasure and joy to do a date in your area while on tour. Masterclasses can work too. And hey, let’s not forget music stores, fingerstyle societies, etc.

Here’s What You’ll Get:

A private lesson with me when I come to town – and I can show you songs that I can’t put online due to copyright problems, if you catch my drift!

A lifelong friendship. I love all the folks whom I meet in my travels and touring. This is the real joy.

It’s Quick & Easy – Here’s how to do it!

Even if you only have an idea of a place (or a few) – this does not need to be a gig offer – send an email to

venues [AT] adamrafferty [DOT] com

Of course the more info the better (address contact person, telephone, web url, email) but whatever is easy for you is fine.

Sending them to that address will help me stay organized.

To communicate with me about other stuff, just email me at

adam [AT] adamrafferty [DOT] com

I thank you in advance, and I am excited to see what you and the rest of the fan base come up with. I look forward to meeting you!!!!


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The Bangkok Guitar Lesson and New Goals

Greets friends!

I am writing you from Cologne Germany and I just arrived from Bangkok last night. Long trip.

Traveling to Bangkok to play with Tommy Emmanuel and the other GREAT players there was an experience I will not forget. The fine players on the bill were Boonchob, Masa Sumide, Joe Robinson, and Michael Fix. Each one had a unique ray of guitar genius and I am very appreciative to have ben there for it all.

On a personal level, certain weak areas of mine as a player became apparent to me. I like the idea of sharing them with you on this blog, because it’s easy to think that pro concert players simply “have it together” musically and psychologically all the time. Maybe by showing you my fragile side, you’ll feel okay about yours. We’re all human.

πŸ™‚

Michael Fix and I were having a coffee and he summed it up by saying “wow, here I am with all you other world class players, I almost feel as if eventually people will figure out that I am a fraud”. Crazy, huh? Well that’s exactly how I felt too. We had a good laugh and realized we probably were not alone.

I figured I’d share my new musical goals with you and invite you into my growing process. Please watch my growth and if it gets too big, have a doctor remove it. That’s a joke.

Until now many of my arrangements have been very much like classical guitar transcriptions in concept. Like “well if I map out the bassline and melody to Stevie Wonder, play it funkily, I’ll just slap the two together and have a cool arrangement”.

This is valid, but it is a completely different approach from seeing what the guitar does naturally and beautifully. Composers like Fernando Sor right on up through Chet Atkins and Tommy Emmanuel allow the beauty of the guitar, the open strings, and the natural physics to play out….like a deep comfortable exhale of breath.

A balance between the approaches is what I need next. Better yet, a commitment to beauty and tone is where I am heading. Knowing you’ll play an E Triad and thinking about going to the next triad is very different from playing the triad and ALLOWING ONESELF to feel, experience and vibrate with the triad.

It’s a cycle of playing and listening, then playing, then listening, etc – but having one’s radar up for a “feel good” vibration, a vibration of “love”. Sometimes just a deep listening to one’s own playing can stir this. And, a sense of real honesty with oneself…which is something I struggle with sometimes. I hang with certain ideas to see if they will work rather than discard things immediately, but maybe I need to toss things sooner!

There is nowhere to hide when you have an acoustic guitar blasting through a PA. Tommy, as always, had everything covered so beautifully my skin tingled and energy shot up my spine hearing his beautiful stuff.

I know that he has spent more time than me in that place of listening, making sure it feels good and making sure the music lines up with his intuition. That’s way deeper than “knowing” how to play your arrangement. It’s the difference between a monologue and a dialogue.

Here I go back to the drawing board, evolving. This morning I woke up at 4:30 and decided to just play pretty and have my radar and intuition up. No funk, no fast stuff, just beauty and glow and tone. Playing simple stuff, improvising and listening. Very different from practicing a piece – but more like practicing a “place”.

The plan? Let me stay there and see what happens. Let me go there every day and practice that vibration and allow new things to happen on their own.

Thank you for listening to me, and my music and tolerating my growth! No not the one on my back, the musical growth πŸ™‚

I am not a finished product and never will be. Let’s see where music goes next.

Until next time…with much love….Adam