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Karl Jenkins: From Jazz to Adiemus

Karl Jenkins is the composer of the internationally celebrated Adiemus series of albums. His first music tuition was in the piano and music theory, and came from his father who was a local school teacher as well as an organist and choir master.

He played oboe in the National Youth Orchestra of Wales during his teenage years, and went on to study music at university in Cardiff. His postgraduate study of music was at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London.

Jenkins' achieved public recognition playing jazz. He performed at Ronnie Scott's club and then co-founded the band Nucleus which won first prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival. In the 1970s he played in the band Soft Machine, performing at venues as diverse as the Proms, Carnegie Hall, and Newport Jazz Festival.

A winner of several awards for composing music for adverts, Karl Jenkins' work has been used by Levi's, British Airways, Renault, Volvo, De Beers, Pepsi, and more besides. It was through one of these adverts that the music that became known as 'Adiemus' captured the public's attention. The Adiemus albums have sold millions around the world, and Karl himself has conducted music from them in live performances in Japan, Germany, Spain, Finland, Holland, Belgium, and the UK.

Karl Jenkins' birth chart

Below is the birth chart for Karl Jenkins. His time of birth is unavailable and so we cannot calculate the Ascendant and house cusps, or the exact position of the Moon - it may be in Scorpio or Sagittarius.

Karl Jenkins - birth chart

On the day Karl was born there was what is called a 'Grand Trine' involving Mercury, Uranus, and Neptune. A Grand Trine is a triangle created by three or more planets approximately 120 degrees away from one another - an equilateral triangle, in other words.

Uranus trine Neptune is a 'generational' aspect, that is to say, it is within orb for a period of years and so it applies to many millions of people. For it to be highlighted in a person's chart, it needs to connect with a faster-moving planet. The way that it connects is meaningful, and personalises the interpretation further. In Karl's chart, Mercury provides that connection, and thus there is this Grand Trine.

Uranus and Neptune are associated with many things, among them the combination of technology with art, audio with visual, east with west, left-brain with right-brain. They are also linked with global consciousness, diversity and universality, and multicultural perspectives.

'The evolving nature of Adiemus has meant that it has been difficult to categorise. New age, classical cross-over, world music, even pop. Karl sees this as a good sign: "To me, Adiemus transcends labels. That fact that it reaches people of different backgrounds, faiths and cultures gives it a universal appeal which is special. The compositions can be spiritual, religious, meditative - it's open to 'move' people in a away that they choose to experience."' - Sound on Sound interview, 1997

Expressing these through Mercury means words, language, and the media. Mercury is about making connections between two or more ideas, objects, people, or groups. The fact that the Grand Trine is in Air signs - Gemini, Libra, Aquarius - emphasises this social interlocutor-type theme. Knowing this, we can start to see how Karl Jenkins has used his Grand Trine creatively.

Another way in which this otherwise generational aspect becomes personalised is through Karl's Sun being in quintile aspect to Neptune. This is an aspect of significant creative and artistic energy: the Sun represents the source of creative self-expression, Neptune represents art and beauty, and the quintile is itself an aspect of creativity, known for it's associations with arranging and orchestrating. Here we have something essential to Jenkins' personality - his creative essence (Sun) involves arranging (quintile) ambient (Neptune) music that is difficult to classify (Neptune) but which has broad appeal (Neptune).

'We will draw near'

Whilst the lyrics for the songs for the Adiemus project were intended to have no meaning - or perhaps to transcend (Neptune) their 'left-brain' meaning (Uranus) and instead to liberate (Uranus) their 'right-brain' (Neptune) resonance through pure sound - it has turned out that 'Adiemus' itself has a transliterative meaning after all. Karl Jenkins was not aware of this when he came up with the word - he wrote it purely for its sound - yet it is remarkably apposite.

'Adiemus' means 'we will draw near'. Karl's own website recognises that this is a very apt thought for the music he sought to compose: a blend of east and west, a multi-ethnic sound that bridged diverse cultures.

As we have already seen, this 'east meets west' theme is most strongly linked with the planets Uranus and Neptune. In the early 1990's Uranus and Neptune formed their once-every-173-years conjunction. It was exact in 1993. In astrology there is a principle that people who were born with an aspect between a given pair of planets will thereafter resonate with the cycle of those two planets. The work of Karl Jenkins confirms this principle, because not only is the nature of the Adiemus music consistent with the pairing of Uranus and Neptune, but the timing of its composition and release into the public domain is also linked with Uranus's aspects with Neptune.

While Jenkins was composing Adiemus the two planets were within 1 degree of orb. By Autumn 1994 when recording began, Uranus and Neptune were at 23 and 24 degrees of Capricorn respectively. In Karl's chart, Venus (works of art and beauty, the desire to unite) is at 24 degrees 48 minutes of Capricorn. The album was released in 1995, as Uranus proceeded to move across Jenkins' Venus, and Neptune drew ever closer to Venus's position.

Neptune continued across Karl Jenkins' Venus and the Adiemus project flourished around the world, completing the circular journey from inspiration to achievement.

This article was written & published on 16th September 2005

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