Symphony No. 1, “The War”

Cover: Chris Strawbridge, Yoru (Night), ca. 2012

Audio exported from MuseScore:

Audio mixed and exported from Dorico (29 Apr 2021):

Audio uploaded to YouTube with cover art and movement names (30 Apr 2021):

Cover: Chris Strawbridge, Yoru (Night), ca. 2012

Some notes:

(1) what if this happened?
(2) I am now
Interlude: “everything was forever until it was no more”
(3) an occupying army
(4) decades had passed

The past four years were ruinous for every aspect of life and affected nearly everyone, some to a heart-breakingly greater degree. We came to a slow realization that our country and nearly half of the people–no matter the decline of quality of life for them personally–were deeply flawed. Last year redoubled the tragedies of the previous three. There are moments too difficult to think about and near-misses that weigh on us, their potential so close to happening that they are effectively an experience no less real.

This program symphony is a summation of those years.

1st Movement: what if this happened?

Concerns our awakening imagination that our confidence was misplaced. The unremarkable days of the first theme are attempted twice, and twice devolve. The second theme hints at the decay to come. A return then to a blissful ignorance using the first theme, and closing with the second again, which becomes a record going in reverse and skipping, repeating the same phrase.

2nd Movement: I am now

The years for me were spent living a fragmented life. Any day could bring a new tragedy for human rights and liberty, environmental stability, international shame, and the knowledge that the destruction will be long-lasting. What was once damage from neglect became willful and selfish nihilism. The moments of forgetting these made the return to them that much more jarring.

Interlude: “everything was forever until it was no more”

The title is stolen from the title of a book about the collapse of the Soviet Union. The closing melody is reworked in the next two movements.

3rd Movement: an occupying army

During the police and pseudo-military attacks on the BLM protesters, especially those peacefully protesting at the capitol in June, it became apparent that our society had been invaded and occupied. This third movement is unstructured flash grenades, tear gas, rubber bullets, and pepper spray. The insurrection on 6 January felt the same, but–like the amplification of the last year from the previous three–exponentially shattering and with the perpetrators reversed.

4th Movement: decades had passed

This doesn’t end after an election or a year or a decade. There’s permanent damage whose consequences are difficult/impossible to even guess at. The post-Civil War South and post-World War II Germany hint at our future. One is well over a century old and the other is approaching that. Neither is over.

The middle section of the movement is the melody that was introduced in the Interlude, and that was then buried in the mess of an occupying army. The closing section is a softer version of the skipping record that closed the first movement.