Forty Days and Forty Nights

Look up Karl Preston photography

Look up Karl Preston photography

A bout music, healing and spirituality

A biblical story that has always deeply fascinated me is Jesus’ retreat from everyone — fasting forty days and forty nights.

During these days, he was subjected to extreme temptation — ultimately triumphing over it.

The Soul Searching that he must have gone through during these difficult days is deeply intriguing to me.  It explains why many spiritual practices around the world require us to make an abrupt change of our daily living habits.

A purification — a total break in the routine.

As artists, we often forget that music is so much more powerful than we think it is.

We know now that we hold in our hands a gift that has the potential to underscore life, and to help heal and transcend even the most profound hardships. Here is one way to use it…

Instead of staying with one continuous idea in a linear pop music, why not change the direction of the song and help it undergo a complete metamorphosis?

We can alter the ‘metabolism’ of the song and its effect on the listener dramatically.

That’s why “bridges” are so wonderful.  Once ubiquitous in popular music and practically a “lost art” in today’s mainstream music, they let the story expand into a larger dimension.

Often, something magical happens.

Here’s an example of a bridge section — that is a whole story unto itself:

Gordon Lightfoot’s “Canadian Railroad Trilogy”


When I hear this song, I am suddenly lifted up into this amazing adventure ride – and then I miraculously and safely land back in the original melody.

When the main theme re-starts, it’s just magic!  I just love how the main theme of the song brings me “home” after the great bridge/ middle section.

The Bridge is the Adventure in the song.

If we can build something into a song that results in a deepened feeling once we return to the theme, (coming home from the adventure), we have accomplished something magical.

What about those great “set-up verses,” such as the one in “I Got A Crush On You” or “Someone To Watch Over Me?”

I vividly remember that wonderful feeling when the main song started after the setup verse.  It happens to me every time.  Never goes away.

Here are two instrumental examples where I have allowed that “adventure” to unfold.

Come along for the ride!

O Pantanal                              Amistad



Safe Passage

Stephan1 B oy, this is a message from an emotional place I did not see coming – a most precious response by someone in another country , from a very different culture, somebody I did not know – until now.

I had no expectation that sharing music I wrote when I was in the middle of processing my father’s passing at just 70 years young, would allow someone else safe passage to their own emotions about their fathers!

I am so very deeply moved and thankful to those who allowed the music into their hearts –  and shared their very own, unique experiences!

From my brazilian FaceBook friend M.V:

“My father died way too early at age 39 and left my mother with six young children.  I experienced much heartache after his death and, I in my innocence, blamed him for leaving.  I couldn’t understand that he was not at fault and I chose not to talk about it anymore.  Because of this, I carried hurt for a long time.

But now, today, I closed my eyes while listening, and with listening came the wistful memory of him, and I cried.”

Here is the song I shared: (and please see more stories below the video!)


From my good friend J.D:
“I listened as I worked on some text for a photo book we’re going to give my Mom soon. The book will have pictures in it of a trip she and I took in 2014 to New York to see the houses where she grew up, started a family, etc. At her age (83 then), every stop had a poignancy and joyful weight about it, and that joy and weight are even more present now as I write this text because of changes life has brought us since. All of this is only to say that writing while I listened made me realize these emotions are really conversations that we had during that trip and that I’m having still—with her, with my childhood, and with what may await my Mom in the next few years; and these feelings are certainly conversations I’m still having with my own father who left us six years ago this month. Your music, Stephan, carried all of this perfectly. It helped me flow more easily among these thoughts, and I wanted it never to stop.”

From my friend M.N:
“Stephan Oberhoff, your message and music is beautiful and deep. Both surely bringing comfort and license to many people. It is in the ‘silence’ we find ‘license’ to be. Inherent in these are the same letters, the same energy that highlights our oneness with those who seemingly have passed, but are as near as our breath, and surely, always hear us. Namaste.”

. . . .

Because of my friend’s sincere outpouring of emotion above, you inspired me to add yet one more song of the same record which was also dedicated to my dad.

More stories below the video – thank you for the blessed sharing of your story!!


From my friend N.D:
“Beautiful piece, very heartfelt. We are the mirror of our parents,and our souls will always connect through our thoughts and the memories make our conversation to the other side!”

From my friend E.G:
“Simply beautiful! The way the piano and guitar compliment each other is truly lovely. I closed my eyes and thought of my father. Thank you for sharing.”

To me there is no gift greater than this – to find that along the way of pursuing our own emotional expression we have touched other kindred souls – and now these souls are speaking back in their own language.

A language of the heart indeed. We are blessed!

Stephan Oberhoff