|On the Transmigration
of Souls ----Music and Text by JOHN ADAMS----
Winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Music
|"I had no desire to create a musical 'narrative' or description....
However, something I had seen on an amateur video taken minutes after the
first plane had hit the first tower stuck in my mind: it was an image of
millions and millions of pieces of paper floating out of the windows of
the burning skyscraper and creating a virtual blizzard of white paper
slowly drifting down to earth. The thought of so many lives lost in an
instant — thousands — and also the thought of all these documents and
memos and letters, faxes, spreadsheets and God knows what, all human
record of one kind or another — all of this suggested a kind of density of
texture that I wanted to capture in the music, but in an almost
freeze-frame slow motion.|
"... I eventually settled
on a surprisingly small amount of text. And this text falls into three categories.
One is the simple reading of names, like a litany. I found friends and family
members with different vocal timbres and asked each to read from the long list
of victims. Then I made a sort of mantra-like composition out of the tape-recorded
reading of these names, starting with the voice of a nine year-old boy and ending
with those of two middle aged women, both mothers themselves. I mixed this with
taped sounds of the city — traffic, people walking, distant voices of laughter
or shouting, trucks, cars, sirens, steel doors shutting, brakes squealing —
all the familiar sounds of the big city which are so common that we usually
never notice them.
Sources: NY Philharmonic http://www.newyorkphilharmonic.org/adams and Pacific Chorale
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