The Singing Revolution


Welcome to our fifth webisode of Between the Notes. In the preceding videos and blogs I have demonstrated and explained some of the underlying principles of Musical Alchemy. I hope you have found ways to use this knowledge in your own life. Now in this blog we’ll look at an amazing example of the power of music on a grand scale. This is the story Singing Revolution, and it really happened!

The Baltic nation of Estonia has a population of about 1.3 million. It’s a small country just north of Poland and Latvia and south of Finland, with beautiful rolling farm country, a high standard of living, and a proudly independent and warm people. This summer while on tour I was there for ten days and was told about their difficult history of occupation and annexation by the Soviet Union, and their eventual liberation. From 1944 when the Soviet army drove out the German army, which had been occupying Estonia during WWII, Estonia became annexed as a Soviet state and became an important military base for the Soviet Army and Navy. Over 200,000 Estonians were then deported, murdered or sent to labor camps. Thousands more fled to Finland, Sweden or elsewhere as it became clear that the Soviets would not support their sovereignty.

This repressive regime continued for 47 years. Most coastal areas were off limits to normal citizens, military service was compulsory and travel outside Estonia was nearly impossible. One of our hosts told us how she had learned yoga as a teenager in secret classes held in a room underneath the railroad station. All such activities were strictly forbidden, as was rock n’ roll music and western fashion styles or books. Some Estonians became expert at modifying radios and short wave receivers to pick up “outside” news from neighboring Finland or Sweden.

In the mid 1980s, Gorbachev introduced the “glasnost” policy, hoping to stimulate the failing Russian economy and encourage liberalization of co-operative businesses. Dissent, grievances and nationalist sentiments began to be aired more publicly. With this new openness, in 1987 a series of mass demonstrations began with spontaneous singing of anthems and hymns that were not allowed by the Soviet authorities. The movement quickly gained momentum, culminating in a massive expression of national unity on Sept. 11, 1988. At the “Song of Estonia” festival in the capitol city, Tallin, 300,000 people, nearly a third of the population, joined hands together and began singing! (See more of this amazing festival:

At this event, political and cultural leaders were actively participating for the first time and calling for the restoration of Estonian independence. In harmony there was also a cooperative effort with the neighboring Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania, who were in similar struggles for freedom. On Aug. 23, 1989, over 3 million people joined hands across the three countries in a sonic, living chain of peaceful singing demonstrations. (This brought global attention to the powerful movement taking place, and soon after Lithuania became the first of the Republics of the Soviet Union to declare independence.)

Imagine the vibratory power and resonance of all those voices and united intentions electrifying and transforming the dense frequencies of oppression and despair into hope, joy and solidarity! Musical Alchemy indeed!

The Singing Revolution lasted over four years and in August 1991, Estonia formally declared independence and peacefully resisted the brief Soviet effort to regain control of media and resume governance. Not one life was lost and no blood was shed in this truly revolutionary revolution!

We are experiencing now in the United States a powerful momentum for justice, compassion and equality. We are painfully aware of the discordant system of greed, governmental corruption and financial inequity, which must be transformed. The Occupy Wall Street and other Occupy city movements around the nation have galvanized millions of people across a much larger territory than Estonia. Our voices are growing louder and more persistent! We know it’s time for a fundamental change. Let’s start our Singing Revolution!

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Philippo Franchini is a world-renowned musician and pioneer in bringing Nada Yoga to the West. He has been called "the Ram Dass of meditative music." Ram Dass made meditation popular in the 70s via his book, Be Here Now, and Philippo is bringing Nada Yoga to the West via his CD, Magic & Grace, which, you could say, is the result of "being here now" for three decades! Currently living in Los Angeles, Philippo has performed at Bhakti Fest, the House of Blues, the Kodak Theatre, BB King’s, the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, Esalen Institute, Omega Institute, and the Kripalu Yoga Center. He also performed at the Milan International Yoga Festival in October 2010, and at many other clubs and festivals all over the world. Fans have heard his music live in the States, Canada, Dubai, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, England, Spain, and Egypt. He tours regularly with David Newman and the collective groove ensemble known as Shaman’s Dream. He has also played and recorded with Jillian Speer, Dave Stringer, the Persian singer Siavesh Ghomayshi, DJ Andy Caldwell, and Suzanne Teng. His music compositions have been used in several films, including Mean Girls (2004) and Desperately Seeking Paul McCartney (2008).


  1. Yes, if the voice is coming right from the heart, from the source of being, it can be manifest whatever you want. In those days Estonia was ready to get together voices for manifesting freedom. Thank you Philippo for your very touching article!


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