Ross Daly -There is no difference between a circle and a straight line
Since 2003 he is the artistic director of the Musical Workshop Labyrinth, in the village of Houdetsi in the Heraklion province of Crete, where concerts, seminars and master classes are organized every summer. Each year hundreds of students from all continents arrive in Houdetsi in order to study with some of the most renowned teachers of traditional music. Also Ross Daly’s impressive collection of more than 200 instruments which he has collected over the years during his travelling, is permanently on exhibition in the building of Labyrinth.
Of Irish descent, born in England, he traveled as a child with his family around the world and soon his deep interest in music emerged. His first instrument was the cello, which he studied in his childhood years in America.
He later began studying the classical guitar in Japan at the age of eleven. The late sixties found him in San Francisco, where having experienced both the classical discipline and the air of freedom and experimentation of the time, he first encountered Eastern musical tradition which completely changed his life.
Of particular interest to him was Indian Classical music which was destined to be the first non-western tradition that he actively studied.
The ensuing years found him traveling extensively studying a variety of instruments and traditions. At that time his main emphasis was on Indian and Afghani music.
In 1975 he traveled to Crete which he had previously visited for a short time in 1970 and 1972 where he had been greatly impressed by the lyra (a small pear-shaped upright fiddle which is the primary folk instrument of the island).
After a six month period of wandering from village to village encountering local musicians, He settled in the town of Chania on the west of the island and began studying the Cretan Lyra with it's great master Kostas Mountakis.This apprenticeship was to last for many years.
During this same time he frequently visited in Turkey where he studied Ottoman classical music as well as Turkish folk music. After many years of intensive training in a variety of musical traditions, Ross Daly turned his attention largely to composition drawing heavily on the various sources that he had studied.
Today he has released more than twenty five records of his own compositions as well as of his own versions of traditional melodies that he collected during his travels.
The island of Crete in Greece still provides a base for his personal and musical research as he travels around the world performing his music.
A master multi-instrumentalist himself, Ross Daly has repeatedly teamed with master musicians from all over the world working within the musical discipline of the Eastern traditions while at the same time freely exploring new forms and creative improvisation.
A virtuoso of Eastern musical instruments, he plays the Cretan lyra, Afghan rabab, laouto, kemence, sarangi, oud, saz and tanbur.
A unique composer, Ross Daly, builds his compositions around the subtle but powerful interaction between the sound textures of the various traditions which he has studied.
His close personal relationship with the musicians he works with is of paramount interest to Ross Daly himself as he believes that it is this inner connection which brings music alive.
The unique sound of his music reflects his personal philosophy, influenced by the Sufi tradition which stresses the sacred nature of music itself, the enormous power contained within it, and the necessity for those who concern themselves with it to unreservedly and selflessly give themselves to it.
This process results in an experience of music of a transcendental and spiritual nature, equally shared by musicians and audience alike, which has nothing to do with the fashions of "World Music" or "Ethnic".
Ross Daly's music provides something that is increasingly difficult to find in modern times: a sense of continuity and unity. Sharing in the essence of a music that really has no physical boundaries is a magical experience that stands outside of time and space, connecting the natural flow of ancient traditions with the most complex needs of today's audiences.
In an interview given to STIGMES Magazine, he says:
"There is no difference between a circle and a straight line … I deal with musical instruments from when I was 4 years old! My mother is a piano player and initially taught me to play the piano. However, suddenly I made my small personal revolution turned to studying the cello till I was 10, then tried classic guitar and so on… Some years later, I began to deal with traditional music, having the first stimuli from San Francisco where I was staying then. It was the ‘60’s and musical tradition of the East, particularly of India, was on the rise. Thus I began to study sitar in England, I started travelling, and one thing brings the other, as it always happens …
...my first visit to Greece was in Crete, where I heard the lyre which impressed me greatly. You know, outside Greece the general impression is that Greek music is only bouzouki, and not even the “right” bouzouki. We listen to sirtaki and the popular songs of '60’s but I consider it has been degenerated. No one knows that there are lyres, lutes, santouri… If you say to a foreigner that the most widespread Greek instrument is the clarinet, you will pass for insane!
… Improvisation is to act musically and experience the moment. This means that to live the moment, you have to leave yourself otherwise you will not succeed."