Bombs Falls, Birds Sing
ORCHESTRATION: String Quartet and Tape
COMMISSIONED BY: University of Waikato
Perhaps for the first time I found it almost impossible to compose, living in a world of unprecedented carnage and peril. Mesmerized by the extreme state of the real world, it must seem that all art must fail. What music could I write in response to this? Does poetry become silent after a holocaust?
I made no attempt to compose a comment. But three things came together by sheer happenstance. The news: often terrible. We are almost in the midst of a world war, with conflagrations in many places igniting tragedy after tragedy. “Everything is burning” the Buddha might say. The songs of the birds of New Zealand: a parallel world of beauty and innocence, a world of nature, a world that reminds us of transcendent possibilities. And then there was the Pali Canon, the ancient discourses of the Buddha: vast, insightful, deep, wise, filled with loving-kindness. I read these assiduously, as the string music gradually formed and tragedies unfolded. In this co-habitation of circumstance, the three things rubbed shoulders together; I can offer no causality of creative process to explain anything. It’s just the way the music came together, and I know nowt of what it speaks.