Discovery and Research
1. A vision dream I had where I was some sort of a reporter or communicator who transported back to 1950 and had communication with members of the family, bystanders, and various people in and around the accident. I was there experiencing it but not affected by it.
2. Song of the Sea movie. On a serendipitous (or not) meeting with Andrew Rosen, a film maker embarking on a new animated film set in an Afghan cultural context, I found out about this movie Song of the Sea. It struck a chord for some reason so I went to see it. The connection I made was that like the main character, there was life on land and life in the sea. But life on land was limited, and she would need to return to the sea to live. Though the members of my mom's family perished in the sea, their souls lived on eternally. Their worldly burdens were lifted and they lived eternally thanks to the enveloping depths of the sea. There are also connections I make with the idea that God is the Ocean from which we come and shall return.
Texts that I'm reminded of:
inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un
3. Maritime tour with Elmer Iseler Singers.
I asked myself, why am I coming here? Now? I've been only perhaps once to the area and now I'm spending almost 10 days here performing with the EIS. I can't say for sure, but it's cool that I've been living on the Westcoast. Now travelled to the East Coast at the beginning of my Toronto adventure. The West and East is connected. The line in Sura Nur of the Quran says neither of the West nor the East. So there is a universality of the sound that I'm looking for as I compose. I'm looking for a sound that can resonate with the 'East' and with the 'West' but not specific to either. The East and West can be also connected because Kenya is in East Africa. It could be an interesting exploration then to add African elements into the music.
I've been thinking of writing a requiem, a Muslim Canadian requiem combining sonic influences including aboriginal in collaboration with Russell Wallace and others. The requiem here seems to also be relevant as the piece will honour and also support the souls on their journey to light. What texts would I use? That's something to consider. There seems to be a theme of the mother that arises; my mother, mother earth, praying for God's mercy (root RHM - also womb), the sea is often related using 'she' as a pronoun, so many mothers lost their children and children lost their mothers. Maybe even arrangements using songs like Russell's Motherhood, Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, etc.
5. When I visited Mombasa during my work with the Aga Khan Academy in 2004, when I arrived at the Likoni site, my entire being shook with the sounds of the accident. It was like I was there. I felt and heard the screams, the panic, the sounds of the voices tapering off, the silence, the depth of the sea, the loss all in my body. It's like the event's memory is in my cells. I got very sick when I was there and always wonder whether my body took on and felt the pain so strongly. So since then I know and believe that we as new generations CAN feel ancestral pain and have the gift and opportunity to find healing and make peace so that the cycle of pain does not continue. Through music, I know healing can be found, and this piece I aim to present as a way to heal this ancestral pain and make peace.
6. Ismaili funeral chants and structure is also something I'm interested in. I'm considering both the chants, tunes, texts as inspiration for the musical melodies, but also the structure of the funeral ceremony as a foundation for the form of the piece. Viewing, to asking for forgiveness, small family groups, to large congregational, the last respects (Family), quran recitations, prayers, last respects (congregation), the preparation, community carries, chanting, chanting at the car, journey to cemetary, cemetary rituals etc. In a sense I'm not writing a funeral piece, but I'm writing a piece in response to lost lives. 7 days special prayers in the congregation were made. So there's something there about repetition. Maybe 7 sections. Each section reflecting a structure of the funeral ceremony. Then at the end of each section there's a repeating chant - reflecting the prayers for 7 days.
Need to research the quran verses recited, specific ginans, chants, meanings etc.
7. Wedding structures and rituals. The family was coming back from the Wedding. Union between two human beings. The lost lives and death symbolize union with the Divine. There is a lot of imagery in ginans of the 'bride' seeking to be with her 'groom'. I also recently saw the same in an Anglican service. So how fitting that this piece relates to the family as 'brides' finding union with their maker (the groom).
8. I also awesomely picked up a book on Arab Music from my bookshelf, which I had bought ages ago and never read. Within a few minutes of the book in my hand, I randomly turned to the pages that talked about the 'songs of the sea' - with certain maqam and rhythms associated with the various stages of the journey. I LOVE THAT.
Need to Research: Arabic music modes & Tarab music (Music nurtured in Swahili cultures) - So there's a connection with the Muslim and the African, Kenyan, specially in Mombasa where there is a strong Swahili Muslim presence. Ameen
January 15, 2015
1. Last Sunday a chat with Paul, Jen's (The All Saints Kingsway pianist/organist) husband, a connection with maritime/ocean death was revealed. The Ocean Ranger (An oil rig) of the coast of Nova Scotia sank some years ago. Many lost lives. And only a small number of bodies were recovered. Paul worked on the same rig. He expressed a desire to compose an organ/choral piece that would honour the event and commemorate - even as a way to heal and make peace. This resonated with the lost lives in the Likoni accident and personal intention to find peace and healing through a musical piece. Is there a Canadian connection to Likoni? Is this two separate things? Can there be elements of one in the other? Are there connections to the Ocean Ranger with the Muslim world? Africa? Mombasa?
2. Something Paul said struck me. The Ocean can GIVE life and TAKE life. We come from Allah and return to Allah. There is definitely a connection to the Sufi traditions and concepts of Allah as the Ocean. So then the Indian Ocean where the lost lives in the Likoni accident immersed, at the same time gave life (spiritually) and took life (materially).
3. This informs the structure of the piece. Where the piece starts with an Ocean calm that is life giving. A source out of which diverse melodies and tunes are revealed. Perhaps a theme melody like the Wedding song. And then at the end of the piece the same sense of calm emerges, through the pain of death and panic, then comes the immersion into soul. The ocean of the Divine ending in peace. Does the sound of the Ocean of the Divine change by the end of the piece? Is the Divine impacted by the souls that it encompasses? Do the sould become impacted by the divine? How does this leave us feeling on earth? The one's left behind. What is the sound of heaven and oneness of the Ocean, while there is so much pain on the earth. How did religious service, prayers, funeral chants, guidance from the Spiritual Leader lend comfort? How can we be comforted when so many lives are lost? What is the sound of that?
Research: Ginans that talk about the bride and groom, ginans that talk about the ocean, ginans that are sung at funerals. How does the musicality of the funeral experience lend peace? How can these sounds interact with the Wedding songs? What is the musical technique that will unite these elements? Is it acoustic based? What's the acoustic on the bus? How does the wedding melody sound on the bus? If singing keeps going then as it emerges in the water how does it evolve and change? How does and when does the soul reveal it's departure from the body and when and how does the Divine intercede? How does the melody of Divine embrace fill the sound of the wedding immersed in the water that then becomes louder and more prominent?
Mombasa Matatu Meditation was noise to noise - can this piece be Sound of the Divine (Wedding in a material sense) to Sound of the Divine (Wedding with God - spiritual) - how are the two melodies on which the music is based similar? Harmonically? Rhythmically? Melodically? How are the sounds of happiness, expression of the Bride's beauty connected to the sound of sadness, loss of live, expression of the Bride's embrace with God? There's got to be some connection. And so what does that look like? Is there a journey? Wedding. Happiness. Celebration. Driving on to Ferry - Catalyst (Stay on the Bus) - Sinking, Drowning, Sadness, Wedding.
4. Discovery that the plate hanging on the wall in the Living room at Fool's Paradise is in Arabic. And says La Illaha Illallah Muhammadur Rasulullah - Affirmation of faith in Islam. The same chant/text that comes with the Funeral procession that I know from the Ismaili funeral ceremonies. Coincidence?!?!? It's definitely a text I want to use, so it's awesome that this happened to also be revealed on the wall at the residence.
- Notate the La Illaha Illalah tune.
- Notate the wedding tune
Start with that. Ameen.