Jihad And Other Broken DreamsUnlike the narrative or concrete nature of literature and most visual art, most genres of western... Read More
Jihad And Other Broken Dreams
Unlike the narrative or concrete nature of literature and most visual art, most genres of western classical or art music are inherently abstract. Abstract thought is manifest in art music as the aesthetic object, the score, is rendered in a codified language that can only be realized, or brought into full experiential existence, by gifted and highly-trained performing artists. While the music presented in most scores remains abstract, as composers and performers we nonetheless grapple with the relationship between and among aesthetics, non-representational work, and our imaginations. Following French philosopher Paul Ricoeur’s (1913 - 2005) lead back to Aristotle’s concept of fantasia, as performing artists we often relate to these scores vis-à-vis stolen stories, i.e. we see, dream or fantasize about events that are not directly accessible in our immediate surroundings, either spatially or temporally.
The foregoing process of imagining the non-present in relation to artistic production and performance practice always engenders a fascinating tension between such imagining and aesthetics. Aesthetics in this instance implicates both the very principles of beauty and artistic taste as well as the highly developed process of achieving same - namely the transmission of artistic concepts by great artists to future generations, e.g. concepts of core sound, line, variations of articulation, color, intensity, etc., and why such choices are made. It could be argued that the most compelling performances are those in which the tension between attempting to achieve an ambiance that correlates to, or is derived from, imagining the non-present, is conjoined with high aesthetic principles. As my great teacher (the inimitable flutist Albert Tipton) would say, “we know something is true in art by its ability to transmit truth to future generations.” While seemingly tautological, in Albert Tipton’s world such “truth” in aesthetic matters was synonymous with “good” and was both sine qua non and equivalent to beauty and artistic taste. This concept of imagining the non-present is also fundamental to the production process of my video-art works, as it serves as a conceptual bridge between abstract art music and video art production.
Jihad and Other Broken Dreams utilizes two of my scores of a similar name, Overture To Jihad (2022), and Jihad(2011), written in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The similarly titled video-art piece has been written and produced in commemoration of the 20thanniversary of the same tragic event. The score is written in a hybrid form, i.e. art music that utilizes various elements that are either taken from or associated with pop music. In Overture To Jihad, for example, I re-arrange Vivaldi’s Nisi Dominus, create an electronic pulse based on a looped cello stroke, create a proprietary distortion algorithm for the Nisi Dominus (based on a non-standard structural analysis of the work), introduce an entirely new Flute/Piano Triointerlude, which merges with the reappearance of the Nisi Dominus in the final section.
In Jihad, the underlying music is based on an Arabic love song, to which I add an introductory passage from Debussy’s Syrinx and western percussion. Finally, the most disjunctive element of the score (speeches made by Pres. George H.W. Bush) are sampled and layered onto the musical elements as both structural signposts and emblematic of cultural incomprehension and conflict.
The video concept/ storyboard contains fragments of the 9/11 attacks and its distant progenitor – the 12th century Holy Wars. Juxtaposed against this conflict are the love affair between Balian d’Ibelin and Sibylla, Queen of Jerusalem, and Najat (an Egyptian singer), writing to her love interest. This last element is a veiled nod to the “distant beloved” affair that played out in the letters between Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck – an affair inextricably linked to the shattering achievement that is Schumann’s Fantasie in C, Op.17.