For as long as I can recall, music has been a passion of mine. Starting piano study at an early age then progressing to snare drum several years ahead of the elementary school band program, I loved the rhythm and the melody of playing, and especially listening to, music. With two piano lessons, a drum set lesson and a percussion lesson facing me every week of high school, plus all of the practice needed to satisfy my teachers’1 demands, along with active participation in high school band and choral programs and weekend jamming with friends, music quickly became my life. And I have loved it!
Growing up, I listened to all music. My piano education led me to Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Gershwin, and all of the timeless greats that wrote for the instrument. Drum studies led me to Buddy Rich, Max Roach, Carl Palmer and other great influencers of the time. Found in my free time, though, the progressive rock of the late 1970’s was a particular favorite, with its virtuosic synthesizer playing and technical, odd-metered drumming. The eight- to ten-minute songs of those years were akin to the classical pieces I was being subjected to in my formal music studies and the two genres naturally blended in my heart and mind.
With my older sister playing saxophone in high school groups, jazz eventually made its strong impression on me, with its truly American harmonies and subtle melodies. At college, I met others that liked jazz even more than I did and dove headfirst into honing my jazz skills on the drum set, while unknowingly defining an ever-elusive Holy Grail that would keep me in pursuit of jazz prowess for the rest of my drumming days. Later, as an editor for Keyboard Magazine, I published my thoughts on the fusion of rock and jazz being used by many of the renowned keyboardists of the late 1980’s. Next, of all unexpected things, I spent nearly a decade in Japan on the forefront of game music production and working as a night club and recording session drummer. Continuing to actively listen, the analog synthesizers used in modern Electronic Dance Music (EDM) brought me back to my prog-rock roots somewhere over the past ten years. In this middle stage of my life, I find that both playing and listening to all genres of music, old and new, electronic and acoustic, have been the greatest joys of my life.
Do you love music too, my brothers? If so, are you aware that many of the prominent creators of our timeless musical catalogue were Freemasons? They’ve covered many of the genres over the past several hundred years, including classical, jazz and popular music. Yes, even my own old favorite: Progressive rock.
Have you heard Brother Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s most famous A Little Night Music (Eine kleine Nachtmusik) or one of the 107 symphonies written and frequently performed by Brother “Papa” Franz Joseph Haydn? Surely, you’ve heard Brother Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, with its hummable Eastern European folk melodies. More to our own lifetimes, how about Take the ‘A’ Train, or In A Sentimental Mood? Those were written by our Prince Hall brother, Duke Ellington (at right), now considered one of the greatest, most prolific of American composers.
Not a holiday season goes by without seemingly endless plays of Brother Irving Berlin’s classic, White Christmas. Perhaps your heart has stirred to The Stars and Stripes Forever, by our brother, bandmaster John Phillip Sousa. Even the progressive rock band Yes’s 1971 anthem Roundabout was recorded by master keyboardist and later-Worshipful Brother Rick Wakeman (at left).
Acting almost as a sixth sense, music makes such an impression upon us. How often has hearing a song taken you right back to the very place where you first heard it? A fond memory or forgotten love? Perhaps even to a regretted dark moment of your past? Regardless, music has healing powers. Indeed, our Fellow Craft degree’s lecture lists it among the greatest of revered arts and sciences.
I have been using my free moments of homestay to reconfigure my home music studio and devote energies to music composition, practice and listening. My Scottish Rite brothers, I hope that you will use this time of isolation to discover new music or reacquaint your ears with some old favorites. Rekindle old memories or ignite new ones through melodies and chords. Recordings of just about any song imaginable can be found on the Internet (often at www.YouTube.com) by typing its title into your search engine of choice. And, local radio is still playing, along with the plethora of cable and streaming TV channels available to us. Via whatever medium you choose to listen, I encourage you to use music’s healing powers to soothe yourself and family in this difficult time.
Please stay safe. Please stay at home, brothers of Ohio. I wish you and your family health and peace, always.
David R. Leytze, 32°
Dayton Consistory, S.P.O.R.S.
 In fact, Valley of Dayton organist, Illustrious Brother Dr. Stanley Garber, 33°, and I shared the same Dayton-area piano teacher, Mrs. Barbara Wasson of Centerville.