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Tri-kanta Veena Paolo Tofani

How I Became a Monk

Part One - Introduction

Paolo and Guitar

The situation with the group “ Area was becoming too intense. The pushing of the image of being a political symbol and a reference point for Area on Stagethe angry and disappointed youth of the time was crashing with my nature. It was becoming clear to me that we could not change the world and especially human nature.

Area Fan

Many who were under the flag of equality and rebellion against the establish order were just using this as an opportunity to show their frustration. Despite the fact that some people honestly believed in the possibility of a better society through discussions and reason, there was a minority that were just creating a useless chaotic mess instigating people to react,Movimento 77 making them forget their real need, and getting them involved in confrontations that sometimes where very violent, causing pain and misery to everyone.

Smiling Paolo

Even under normal circumstances I was never attracted to success and popularity. Just a few years back I had left the group “I Califfi” during a very successful moment of fame and money to start a new life in England from scratch. To me the real challenge has always been to go deeper into my capacity to understand music and the real meaning of it. The social circumstances and the subsequent inevitable environmental changes, Caution (retro)despite being able to influence the quality of my musical experience, were never very important to me. When things start to become ordinary and static, for me that was the time to move on to the next phase, to the next opportunity to understand more my real values, and I guess (at that time I was not aware of my spiritual identity) my real nature. Area had attracted too much attention, the noise was increasing rapidly and I did not want to get used to it. Also my interest in music was pulling me in a different direction, there was too much tension in our compositions, I needed to cool off from the militant and angry approach and reset the sound spectrum to go to a more simple but introspective range, so I decided to leave the group.

Casa Londra
My first encounter with the devotees of Krsna was in 1970, during the time that I was living in England. I remember seeing them in London on Oxford Street, chanting and distributing incense and some literature. I was not disturbed by theirs appearance, in reality I liked them, and I remember I bought something from one of the girls, but I did not enquire about their religion and philosophy. My mind was going in a different direction at that time.

The second time I met them was in US in 1973. New York ChantingI was waiting for a friend in front of the Modern Art Museum in New York when I heard this tumultuous sound, looking around I saw a huge procession full of people with colorful banners and heard the tumultuous sound of many drums coming down the street at a very fast pass. This time my reaction was completely different from the previous one. I felt very uneasy and nervous, I was convinced that they were coming to get me for some reason. I became scared and I started walking in the opposite direction very fast, but despite my rapid pace, I felt they were getting closer and closer to me. I was consumed by total anxiety and I entered the first door that I saw, it was a bank. My rushed entrance made the security guard come towards me with his gun under his hand shouting something that I could not understand, I did not move, my eyes were staring at the street, and when I saw the procession passing by, I felt relief, safe, and everything went back to normal again. It would not be until almost the end of the 70’s that I had another chance to meet the devotees of Krsna.

Paolo writing

I was in Milan Italy, and my life had become very simple. I had left all the major involvements with society and the opportunity for material success. After I left the group “Area in 1977, the boys ask me if I could help them with the technical production of their new album, something that I had always done when part of the band anyway. After sometime they had left the Cramps record company, and had gotten a new record deal with the CGD company. ElisaSince leaving the group I was not playing with anyone when Gianni Sassi, the head of Cramps record, put me in charge of a few new music productions and that was enough to cover my material needs without being heavily engaged. I was tired and disappointed, and I just wanted to be peaceful and do as little as possible, just enough to keep my eyes open, and maintain my sentimental relationship with Elisa, my girlfriend, the only person that I felt had any real value at that point of my life.

My apartment

We were living in a small apartment in Milan and I was often visiting Demetrio (the singer of “Area), Stratosswho had also left the group, and we started getting involved in experimental music with John Cage and other contemporary musicians.

         John Cage 1978


It was a great time, I was feeling free to explore my imagination and get into new ways of expressing and developing my musical needs. Since my trip to the US (first to N.Y. and then to L.A.) a couple years before, I had become fascinated by a beautiful modular synth made for me by Serge Tcherepnin (pronounced  "Cher - epp - nin") in L.A. He was also a musician, but according to John Cage, this machine was the best musical composition that Serge had ever made. He was an amazing guy. I remember when I was in his shop ln L.A., I saw some of the members of the “Tangerine Dream Paolos equipment band who were also having some synths made for them. During my visits with Serge when he was working, he was always playing this cassette about the life of wolves, explaining to me that they were not dangerous animal’s, and how he very much liked the sounds that they were making.


 I set up a little studio in my Milan bedroom apartment and start writing and getting deeper into electronic music.

Milano Out Off
Sometimes I was doing some solo performance in avant-garde music club’s and different theaters. I liked that very much for it was always a gratifying experience. I met many interesting artists and I really liked the personal approach, it was nice to be a person again. A that time I had a confirmation that in the future it would be better for me to stay away from heavy involvement and keep this personal independence to avoidMilano Out Off somebody else’s mental problems and concentrate on my artistic and human needs.(I did not know what the future had prepared for me)

One afternoon a friend (Claudio Rocchi) phoned and invited us over to his house, he wanted to introduce me to some interesting people that were passing by his place. Claudio had beClaudiocome a good friend and during that time we discovered that we had many things in common. He was a successful musician, but he also had a strong inclination toward the spiritual and philosophical point of view of the Indian culture, and that was very attractive to me. To be able to go to India had always been one my greatest dreams. For some reason I felt very fascinated by that culture and the mystery of the mystical atmosphere that I knew was still present there. The musical culture of India in particular had, and still has, a deep interest for me. I always thought that if I wanted to find the roots of the real musical art, I had to go there.

Raga Book

I remember during my staying in England in the early 60’s I had visited an Indian music shop in the east of London, they had all sorts of musical instruments such as Sitars, Tambouras, Tablas, Sarods and many others. I was on the one hand fascinated by them, and on the other very comfortable with these instruments. At that time I bought a book about Indian raga’s that later became one of my most The 1978 familyimportant reference points in relation to the understanding of the music of India.

The desire to move toward that part of the world was so strong that Elisa, my self and George (an amazing black Belgian shepherd dog), decided to leave everything and everybody for good.

VW Van 1979

We had a VW camper van, so we took everything we believed useful and we left. We had a great time but we never made it to India, for reasons that are not relevant to this narration, so we had to go back to Italy. Obviously it was not our karma to reach India at that time, because despite all our effort, we did not make it.

Anyway let’s go back to Claudio’s invitation. We where not doing much that day, and he was not so far from our flat, so we decided to go. When we arrived I notice that the atmosphere had changed from the usual hippy one, everything was cleaner than usual, more orderly, and there was a strong but pleasant smell of incense everywhere. As soon as we entered I saw some shaved headed people dressed in saffron robes. Going to Athens The light of the sunshine coming thru the windows mixed with their shining figures gave me the impression that we were in a different dimension, very calm and peaceful. My friend introduced us to these people and as I recall on our way back to our place I had a very good feeling about this encounter. We were not confronted with heavy philosophy, nor some dogmatic behavior, but we just had a very simple and pleasant discussion about ourselves and our views on life.

This was a pleasant surprise, and so we decided to follow the devotees to Rome together with Claudio and his wife Manuela.

The time spent in Rome was again very pleasant and we had some opportunity to understand a little more about the devotees of Krsna and their way of life. I wanted to go deeper into this new experience; so I accompanied them on a short trip to Athens.

I remember that I was feeling out of place with my regular pants and shirt, so I ask them if was possible to have the same dress they where wearing, so in no time I looked like a devotee of Krsna, apart for my hair.

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