Hearing Lubomyr Melnyk’s music is analogous to the sensation of déjà vu. Physically, you can only perceive one amalgam of sensation, but you know on a primal level that a million tiny unknowable things form the whole.
Melnyk is the creator of “continuous music,” a form of playing — in his case, piano-playing — so rapid and without comparative form that no gaps are left; movements, chapters and interludes are impossible to perceive. Melnyk even says he holds two different records for world’s fastest piano-playing. Continuous music is part physical discipline, ideology and spiritual practice. It’s a style so difficult to put into words that Melnyk needed to write three different instructional texts on its methods.
You simply have to hear it for yourself before you can begin to fathom its enormity. To give a few examples from nature, it’s akin to holding your ear directly up to the metric tonnes of water falling from the summit of falls, listening from three feet below the earth to the stampede of buffalo hooves overhead, or shrinking to the size of an insect to hover next to a hummingbird’s wings.
Melnyk, now 71, almost didn’t make it. Born in 1948 in Germany to Ukrainian parents, his family moved to Winnipeg in exodus shortly after he was born. By the ‘70s he was homeless and starving. Continuous music was born in that time but has seen its widest exposure in just the last few years. There could be no time more vital, nor more precious, to hear it in person.