The last one! I hope to reflect on the whole process next week. So here’s the last of the 40 pieces and the reflection below.
There are two ways of looking at it. Either hope has left us without so much as a farewell or, hope is somewhere around because there was no farewell.
Easter Saturday is a bit like that. Has hope disappeared or is he around somewhere? It’s hard to know. In between Good Friday and Easter, the Saturday is shut down time. We hope that Good Friday was when restart was activated. And we hope that when the reboot happens the virus of sin will be vanquished.
Praise be to the one who didn’t say goodbye.
This piece uses the octatonic scale or the diminished scale. It climbs and rises symbolising the lifting of the Son of Man. The glorification of God himself. In the end the breaths. And the final cry. God is dead. In our hearts and minds God needs to die too. We build up these strange edifices and pictures of God that might initially resemble him but they get twisted and perverse. God needs to die in us so that we might see him again truly.
A conspiracy is a noble intent which needs to take ugly but necessary steps out of the public eye. Most people don’t act with pure malice. Most people shield themselves from truth and act true to themselves. So bankers can justify their huge bonuses and their immoral actions against humanity. Politicians can justify their corruption and society as a whole can give an almighty shrug.
When our authorities decide to arrest a trouble maker we don’t think of it as a conspiracy unless we are in some way with the trouble maker. We think the authorities are doing what they are supposed to. So when the priests and scribes plot Jesus downfall they’re merely trying to neutralise a possible terrorist. Unless of course you’re on the other side and see it as an extreme injustice.
Jesus on the other hand seems to lead a counter conspiracy. One that would reveal human conspiracy as pitiful attempts to hold on to power and reveal the naked broken God who takes on the fury of conspiracy and suffers with its victims.
Everyone’s excited. The corrupt government will be overthrown. There’s a new leader in town. Yet everyone’s uneasy. Even this great leader shows unease. How will all this end? There’s a strange feeling that this Jesus is going to do something none of us want. A deep breath could help. But God’s breath seems to be present only in snatches. We’ll take what we can.
This is a piece which uses a 12 tone row. For those of you unfamiliar with this it is a composition technique that ensures that every tone available has to be played before it is used again within the music. So if one plays a C, it can be used again only after playing all the other notes. And the order in which the notes appear is repeated in this piece. Repititions of notes are allowed but only immediately. So we can play C C but not C E C.
I did this as part of a composition course I was doing last month. A lot of the music sounds discordant. But the point is where did our sense of harmony come from? Do we listen to music only in certain ways? It would seem that for most people music is primarily a call and response in an emotional sense. Emotion rules prime in how music is heard. Music is also a slave to the image. Play an atonal piece and people might say ‘sounds like a scary movie.’
The interesting thing is that these sounds existed before movies. So is there a way to listen to music more intellectually? Poetry faces a similar, opposing problem. We expect words to primarily give us information. So words aren’t often associated with emotion.
It is interesting how we box each art form into such strict categories. There are analogies here to how we practice our spirituality. Music is used emotionally, rather than intelligently. Visual art is used as background rather than foreground. Words are used as the sole purveyors of truth rather than acknowledging their slipperiness and using them more emotionally.
I want a sermon from an art piece. And our prayers in music. We’ll use words for notices and for where the toilets are.
Into the last week!
This is a song idea of mine, which has been hanging around for a bit. I’ll maybe work on it properly after this project is over. It explores Job’s reaction to the disasters surrounding him. He says the Lord gives and the Lord takes. Is this true belief or is this false piety? I wonder if this is just a conditioned response. Why else would he spend the rest of the book arguing with his friends about God?
Growth is surprising. You think you’ve based your existence on something and then as you grow something deeper is revealed. When this piece starts it is ambiguous as to where the first beat is. Only later in the piece do we have a definite beat one.
Life is quite like that. We keep saying that we want to get back to our roots, our foundations; but in reality our foundations keep changing. Not because of a lack of fidelity but because we can discover deeper structures under what we thought were our foundations.
My view of Jesus has changed incredibly over the last decade and a bit. This doesn’t mean I’ve discarded all my old beliefs. However some of my old beliefs needn’t be absolutely at the centre because they are no longer the foundation.
I’ve been led to dig deeper into the skies.
Following on from yesterday’s theme of weaving this piece explores the way narratives weave through one another. They don’t necessarily go together neatly but they are together. This is how I see scripture narratives working. They don’t always neatly fit and I must resist the temptation to make them fit.
The desert is dry. Dust flys even at the merest breeze. On the other hand well watered soil sticks together. The Genesis story says that we were made from dust. There is no picture of a well watered garden sprouting forth with humans. There is a sense of play when the wind blows the dust. It is dynamic and the dust can take varied shapes as opposed to rich soil which will fall unmaginatively back to the ground.
We are woven says the Psalmist. (Ps 139) By placing the Psalm next to the Genesis 2 passage I would like to say we are woven from dust.