Project Proposal 1994-103: "A Song of Hope and Home"
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Name: Adebowale

Title: A Song of Hope and Home

Material Requirements:
For the creation of the piece:

  • One guitar, electric
  • One drum set
  • Three flutes - one of African Blackwood from this dimension, one of bamboo from Universe X-519, one of Elderwood from Universe X-162
  • Two triangles - one of steel and the other of beryllium bronze
  • One pipe organ
  • One theremin
  • One rainstick, made of a cactus from X-736 and filled with sand gathered from around the cactus
  • The recorded roar of a dinosaur or another animal non-extant on this plane
  • The bird song of the tillikana, from Universe J-057
  • A waterphone, filled with water from Universe X-218
  • A full choir singing the following: Ave Maria by Schubert, Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, and Africa by Toto
  • A cannon
  • Music recording and editing equipment

For the performance of the piece:

  • 20 chairs, modified to have arm/leg straps
  • 1 speaker
  • 20 blankets
  • Hot chocolate, coffee and tea

I would have liked to perform this live, but any attempt to do so would instill the same vision in the performers. As such, I had to get different parts of the song individually and then splice them together into a recording that gives the right vision.

The chairs are modified to have straps for the protection of the listeners: most listeners I have played the piece for tend to react to the vision as though they were there, which often leads to accidental injury and movement.

Abstract:
A Song of Hope and Home is a thirty minute long song, consisting of five movements. A listener that listens to the entirety of the song will experience a vision of my journey to the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen. This is a purely visual, auditory and textual hallucination - at no point are listeners actually transported anywhere. During the duration of the piece, listeners are incapable of sensing any outside event. The five movements are:

  1. A short memetic primer to allow the memetic elements in the rest of the piece to have maximum effect (one minute)
  2. A vision of my life before I began my journey, which begins the induced hallucination (three minutes)
  3. The journey itself (twenty-two minutes)
  4. The most beautiful sight and my life after that (three minutes)
  5. A memetic cleaner to remove the memetic primers and end the induced hallucination (one minute)

Intent:
Twenty years, I saw the most beautiful thing I had ever seen or would ever seen. It was back when I was wandering the planes, searching for a new world to live in. My home was gone, and I will not speak of what happened it. It has been two decades and the pain is still too raw.

What matters is that I had been searching for a new world for three years. In my haste to flee a dying world, I took a poor method of crossing between worlds. It relied more on brute force to pass through planes than a targeted method, and so I was cursed to randomly sojourn. I passed through thousands of planes on my way.

3592 worlds.

Not one was even close to home. The vast majority of these worlds couldn't even support life and every time I passed through one I drained my rusting life support system, running out of air and water and food and hope.

Every so often, I passed through a version of Earth that did support life and I was able to rip off my helmet. But make no mistake, these worlds were not cradles of civilization. These often were worlds locked in prehistory, ruled by titanic dinosaurs or children of night. These weren't suitable: I wasn't looking to survive, I was looking to live.

The worst were the worlds that had already came and went. A wretched handful of them had life left to them, the remnants of humanity eking out a foothold in a world that had died. But again, they were surviving and not living. I could have survived in my old home, a horrid and brutal life.

Other dead worlds were truly gone, paved over in a myriad of ways. Worlds in which every person was dead, worlds that were nothing but cake, worlds where I could not even find a corpse to cradle.

It would be condescending of me to say that hope had left my life not long after I began my journey, it still trapped in Pandora's Amphora. That's obvious. You can tell it by now.

And then, after 1274 days, I stepped out onto a dock in the New York City Harbor, drowning in light and people. I can't quite recall what happened next, as my next coherent memory is being treated in a hospital with tears on my face. It was basic kindness that had been absent in my life for too long.

This world is not the same as my home, but it is close enough that I can accept it. In a certain sense, I wouldn't have it to be the same, because I would have been lying to myself that I had never left. My old home could never truly be replaced, but this is a home too.

I've never been able to capture the totality of what I felt on that day. New York City was beautiful to me even in my old world, and that steel grandeur coupled with me finding a new, better world broke me. It wasn't the thousand worlds I walked through, but the one that I ended upon.

Conventional methods have completely failed at letting others feel what I feel on that day. It's not just the skyline itself that was beautiful to me, but it had the added weight of everything that had happened to me in the preceeding years. They have always managed to capture some of it, but never the whole, never the entirety.

So I turned to song. In 1934, Frederick von Hayek submitted an exhibit that consisted of a symphony that made listeners think they were on a cliff face overlooking a waterfall. It did decently for the time because standards were lower back then, but in the end it was little more than a proof of concept.

But there's a diamond in that rough, and I was able to make a ballad that puts listeners in my shoes. It goes quickly, but the beauty of magic is you can force ideas into people's heads. A single note of my song will carry hours of sights, sounds, inferences and learning.

Perhaps with this, people will actually understand what I went through in it's totality. It may not be enough, but I can only have hope.

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