Eyes Wide Open: March of Lost Hope

Image by Kim Lane

all compositions
by Simran Gleason (Except where noted in Station 1)

Soundscape The request: We want something somber, surreal, but tasteful and subtle. But, we don't want the evening sound scape to be sensational or feel like being in a video game. So possibly something with a hint of combat, that gives the listener an unsettling feeling, but at the same time reflective.

Proposal: I will arrange this soundscape as a set of four or five stations, with tone ranging from hope to fear. Mostly dark ambient pieces, very sparse on regular beats (there will already be a lot of that in the nighttime playa sonic environment), with the occasional strident clashing. Each station will have a playlist about an hour long, running on a random shuffle selection.

Acting P.A.T.R.I.O.T.
The walk begins with a sense of strength. We are a free country. We defend freedom. Our intentions are noble and we have a clear sense of purpose.
The first inklings that something isn't right here. Are we really in this war for the reasons we've been told? Are we really conducting ourselves inthe way our propaganda purports? Do the "armored" vehicles we provided our troops at the outset of the invasion really constitute "Supporting our troops?"

These are mostly ambient pieces, with a bit of darkness.

slow, sad, solo piano music.
Same Ol' SOL
These are the most political of the pieces, with repetitive minimalist music, like an angry Philip Glass, overlaid by excerpts from the speeches of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, edited to expose what I think of as some of their underlying emotions. These contrast with Eisenhower's speeches from after WWII in which he describes the real costs of mainting a war-based society.
Ninety-nine point something
based on a quote from a Tim Barsky story in which a dead soldier, a young Yemeni Jew from South Berkeley, is describing his death: "War is hella boring, like 99 point something percent of the time. The rest of the time you pray like hell for boring." These pieces suspend in a state of waiting, waiting with tension only occasionally broken by sudden loud bursts.
  Listen: (Many of these pieces are here now; the rest are coming soon)
Station 1: Acting P.A.T.R.I.O.T.
Anchors. [2:50]
The Navy's theme song. Remixed, with guitars and such. A bit from a JFK documentary.
633rd Squadron. [5:22]
Very dramatic! Timpanies turn into guns.
I think this is from a movie soundtrack. I found it as a midi file on the net. I'll look up the attribution. Real soon now(tm).
Bullets & Bayonets. [4:22]
I think this one is a Sousa march. Also comes from a midi file garnered on the net.
Caissons... [1:42]
go rolling along. It's the army's theme song. You'll recognize it.
RifleRegiment. [3:52]
A Sousa march. This is beginning to sound like a small-town parade. With guitars.
Blue Yonder. [3:33]
Up, up, & away! The Air Force's theme.
American Patrol. [4:01]
by Meacham. Nice simple piano, strings, and organ.
Montezumas [3:11]
Now we hear from the Marines. All the way to the gulf of Tripoli.
FLags O' Freedom. [2:28]
(I need to look up the attribution here). Very much a small-town parade.
Soldier's March. [3:35]
by Tchaikovsky. Slightly remixed, from the midi, with a few voices layered on.
Jingoism at Home. [7:11]
Atmospheric version . [7:11]
version with a different piano. it's supposed to be a honkytonky piano, but I don't have a good sample set yet...[7:11]
Mostly written during the long Fourth of July weekend. A smart, snappy march paradiddle, booming bass drum and tubas announce the honor and glory of the dogs of war, while trilling melodies play in the media, dazzling us all. And underlying this: piano playing a harmonic structure that's totally confused, leading in the wrong direction, and more and more disturbing the longer you pay attention.

Another description:
this piece is mostly languid piano, mostly slow ponderous whole notes, with some romantic chord progression movement, and a few sections with stacked fourths that go all the way around a circle of fifths and/or fourths.
then under that there's a sad organ with mostly descending lines. pretty much extracted from the piano chords. and a deep rumboling bass drone that doesn't move too much. fermatslasttheremin: all along there;'s the sound of water (actually a recording from a maya lin sculpture at stanford) vocoded to a synth line.
and on top, a wiggly processed glockenspiel sound, and then occasionally excerpts from the melody of Grand Ole Flag played on what sounds like a buzz saw.
the idea for this one was that the piano sounds romanticized and "nice," though the underlying harmony is somewhat sad, and it goes around and around in circles without ever getting anywhere.

Station 2: Inklings
Mosphere. 3 loops. [9:29]
Angel's Lament [4:44]
Erosion I [5:51]
Erosion II [4:57]
Niche [4:28]
Sorrowing Throng. [6:11]
Titled from a line in one of my Grandfather Big Harry's poems. This piece originally served as the backing track for a star myth reading from Heavens Speak.
Solstice Nocturne: Winter 05 [9:27]
A slow melange of several drones. Barely interacting. This piece was the start of a series of solstice nocturnes I'm writing every solstice.
Same Ole SOL (Atmospheric mix). [4:33]
without the string basses.
Landing (Take 1) [8:08]
Landing (Take 2) [9:20]
An adaption of my homage to Brian Eno's Music For Airports run on my Random Composition Generator software. For this one I changed the underlying tonal center from Bb 6/9 to Bb minor 6/9, changed the tics to thumps, and then ran it alongside a live mic feed while sitting in the Las Vegas Airport. Since it's a randomly generated composition, it doesn't ever come out the same, so here are two takes.

Station 3: Melancholia Mostly slow, sad piano music. I've never played piano before. The first few pieces in this station were painstakingly composed note-by-note on a software sequencer. After a few of those, I found myself able to improv keyboard parts, capturing them with a midi recorder and then editing them.

Vacillations. [3:07]
A three-part almost-fugue. This piece is inspired by W.B. Yeats's poem, Vacillations. After a trip to the Musee Mechanique in San Francisco, the piece took on a bit of a twisted carny feel.
Melancholia I. [3:24]
Melancholia II. [5:35]
Originally named :High Heeled Dirge," this piece starts slow and somber, and mostly stays there. It's fractally structured as abac with an ABAC within a third ABAC.
Melancholia III. [5:35]
Melancholia IV. [4:08]
This piece is based on a single note repeating like a drone, with improvised lines meandering around it.
Melancholia V. [1:46]
This piece started as a short composition exercise. I attempted to extend it three times, and failed miserably each time. Finally I threw the last half away completely and started from scratch. In a D harmonic minor scale, I like how this piece wrenches and goes off wistfully.
Melancholia VI-a. [4:42]
Melancholia VI-b. [3:40]
Melancholia VI-c. [3:17]
Melancholia VII. [3:03]
Misgiven [4:16]
Tentative. [3:52]
Saturation. [3:55]
Lilting Inappropriately. [2:54]
Solstice Nocturne -- Summer 06. [5:50]
Solstice Nocturne -- Summer 06 (take 2). [4:30]
Station 4: Same Ol' SOL
Same Ole SOL. [4:03]
Two string basses running simple figures over & over, completely drowning out the atmospheric soundscape below.
Captive Audience. [1:54]
Originally done as an interstitial piece for a David Ives play, this sound collage draws a parallel with the drawn out ending of the Vietnam war.
Precepts: Outta Phase. [4:10]
Eisenhower, in his 1953 speech laying out precepts for the conduct of the United States in a post-war world.
Musically, this is a piano phase piece, inspired by Steve Reich's "Piano Phase," in which two pianos playing the same loop at different speeds go gradually out of phase with each other.
Current US foreign policy is entirely out of phase with Eisenhower's precepts.
Stay the Course. [4:20]
Keep on, solid and steady. That will bring us success. Won't it?
WMD. [4:36]
In the justifications given for this war, we heard a lot about Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Lies. [3:39]
Former CIA operative __ pointedly questions Rumsfeld about the justifications given for the war, over the top of tense cinematic strings.
Military-Industrial Complex [5:36]
From another Eisenhower speech, describing the dangers of investing the country in a full-scale military industrial complex.
Paean [5:29]
For the soldiers who have died in this conflict.
Nines. [4:20]
A minimalist instrumental piece with looped figures. I'm currently reworking this as a motet for 5 or so voices singing the names of the fallen. This will go along with the Paean.
Security [2:54]
Are we now more secure than before we started this war?
Station 5: Ninety-nine point something
Ninety-nine point something. [9:08]
The idea is a piece that is calm, with not much going on, but very apprehensive, like not much is happening, but all hell could break loose at any time, and you jump at every pebble drop.

This mood is based on an excerpt from Tim Barsky's "The Bright River," a music/storytelling journey through the afterlife show in which a young Yemeni Jew soldier from South Berkeley, recently killed, is relating his experience of the war, something like: "Now don't get me wrong, war is hella boring. Like nightmare boring, wish you were dead boring. For 99 point something percent of the time. The other time, you pray as hard as you can for boring."

Desheval. [4:20]
An anxious piece, disheveled, uncertain. With small stories floating over the top.

Sand Shadows. [9:06]
Another desert waiting piece with high anxiety. Has Haunted Garden playing along with it in D harmonic minor.
Isolated. [7:25]
Thendara. [5:55]
Chance Encounter. (Single set, Take 1). [8:00]
Chance Encounter is also in the "apprehensive waiting" mood. It is around this piece that I'm fully fleshing out my philosophy of the series: they sound nice and reasonable at first, but the loinger you pay attention, the wronger it gets.

This is another randomly generated composition. I'm intending this one to be the first piece for the two-set random composition generator, in which a control (e.g. a dial connected to midi) controls which of two subsets each sound comes from. Then by deft arranging of the sounds in the subsets, the whole piece can change mood. Sometimes with multiple moods, if more controls are hooked up.

For this piece, the moods are: calm dark ambient with a slightly sinister edge; sad, lyrical piano and plaintive clarinet; and strident dissonant pounding cinematic pianoforte flourishes.

At the moment, I have a couple of takes of the piece before the sets get separated out into their respective moods. I'm not yet liking the crashing drum sounds, so those will change soon as well.

Sneering Electret. [8:00]

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Music Eyes Wide Open