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Don Robertson's
Positive Music Trajectory

The Trajectory

1970-1979 Intensive positive-music research of European classical music from Gregorian chant through the 19th century. Don Robertson visited important university libraries where he photocopied valuable scores of music that was not available to the public and began preparation of volumes of scores to eventually be published. He also began his collection of positive music recordings.

1979-1994 During this fifteen-year period, Don Robertson conducted a dedicated outreach to inform about positive music. At first, he called this outreach The Transformative Music Institute. The following year, he co-produced a radio show that was broadcast on the radio station at Sonoma State University in Northern California. He then joined forces with visual artist Mary Ellen Bickford, the co-founder of Rainbow Research. The radio show was the prototype for the positive-music concept that Don and Mary Ellen will call Musical Kaleidoscope in March 1997. Don Robertson also continued building his collection of recordings of positive music.

1994-2001 During this period, Don conducted a very focused eight-year study of gospel music. Don and Mary Ellen, living in the Southeastern United States, attended concerts regularly and they assembled a very large, important collection of recordings.

1997 In March of this year, Don and Mary Ellen created the positive-music educational website called DoveSong.com. This influential website received millions of visitors continually for twenty years and they received emails and phone calls from people from around the world. See the work of a young contributor from Singapore here: The Folk Music of China.

1997 Musical Kaleidoscope was born as a concept for a radio program featuring positive music from all cultures and times. A series of sample programs were created.

2000-2002 Don Robertson’s two-year research and study project focusing on the American and European song repertoire took place during these years.

2002 The song research bore fruit when Don and Mary Ellen, Jim Petrik, and Dave Austin wrote the best-selling book Songwriting for Dummies.

2004-2005 In 2004 Don Robertson and Mary Ellen Bickford, along with 13 composers and musicians from the USA, Israel, India, and Iran founded the Positive Music Movement. The group held a concert at the United Nations in New York City on October 22, 2004. A more detailed description can be found on our website. See: The Positive Music Movement

2004-2006 Creation of study scores for Musical Kaleidoscope. A few video examples of the study scores can be viewed here: Study Scores

2005 Don Robertson’s online book Music Through the Centuries was published on the DoveSong.com website. This online book was the result of Don Robertson’s research in classical music that had begun in 1970. Don shows how each century has a unique style of classical music.

2007-2008 Don and Mary Ellen’s year-long music digitizing and scanning project. Two employees were hired for this massive project that would transfer the record collection to digital formats that would be available for the Musical Kaleidoscope project. Their record collection was digitized, and covers were photographed More information: The Record Collection

2009 The Musical Kaleidoscope website and YouTube channel are brought online.

2009-2014 These years were spent in further creation of the Musical Kaleidoscope project. Don and Mary Ellen Filmed musicians, interviews, recordings sessions, and concerts for the archives of the Musical Kaleidoscope project. Don and Mary Ellen were also photoshopping images and mastering recordings in the Musical Kaleidoscope archive.

2013 During 2013, Don and Mary Ellen began a series of Thursday-evening Musical Kaleidoscope classes in their Nashville home. These were attended by composers, musicians, and arrangers. The presentations were prepared during the week and different subjects were presented each week. Guest presenters were invited as well, and their presentations filmed: Accordions 101 with Jeff Lisenby

2014-2017 During this period, Don and Mary Ellen resumed the work that Don had been doing in the 1970s, creating volumes of scores to be published. A list of the completed volumes along with cover images can be viewed here. Research material that Don had been collecting for many years was organized and placed in binders that filled the walls of their Nashville home.

2017 Don and Mary Ellen created the four-volume Musical Kaleidoscope book series, publishing the first two on Amazon. Flipbooks may be viewed on our website here: World One and World Two.

2017-2022 A five-year project creating the building blocks of Musical Kaleidoscope. These building blocks consist of over 1,000 videos that define the Musical Kaleidoscope project. Watch examples here.

2019 Hymn Project – Don Robertson’s current project, the Christian hymn from the time of Gregorian chant through to today is presented here.

2022-2024 Building the Rising World Foundation website

Further information:

  • For a description of Don Robertson’s music background read “Don Robertson’s Seven Musical Journeys” here

What is Positive Music?

     Don Robertson’s understanding of positive music began in New York City in 1967, when Don was studying with two masters of classical music: the famous American contemporary composer Morton Feldman and the famous Indian classical musician Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. The music that Robertson was studying with the American classical-music master was discordant and static, while the music that he was studying with the classical-music master from India was concordant and uplifting. Comparing these two remarkable experiences, Don realized that the discordant music that characterized much of contemporary European and American classical music of the 20th century was a form of negative music, while the concordance of the classical music of India was a form of positive music.
     Here were two classical-music traditions from two important world cultures that had opposite resonant effects: one negative and the other positive. The following year, Don Robertson discovered what he identified as the root chord of negative music, the opposite of the familiar major and minor root chords of positive music. This was an entirely new discovery that caused Don to realize the importance of concordant music, and his mission in life. Since this time, Don Robertson has followed a path of researching, understanding, and creating positive music.