To understand the world in the 21st century, we need to go back in time. Specifically, to the 1940’s. It was during and after the 2nd World War when artists and musicians brought necessary change in how we construct music, language, literature and other forms of art.

It was Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki who created Threnody to the victims of Hiroshima. This avant-garde piece of music represents directness of expression, during a time of advanced post-serial complexity. It is an experimental piece which was originally titled 8’37” but was changed to Threnody to the victims of Hiroshima. The music include shrieking cluster chords, siren-like glissandos, and sputtering streams of pizzicato (Botha, 2015; Ros, 2007). The original intention for this piece was not politically driven and the sounds one can hear in the music truly set the tone as to how music is constructed.

I was recently faced with the same conundrum for months, when I heard Ed Sheeran speak of only 12 notes on a keyboard, piano or guitar. What is interesting though, is modes. There may only be twelve notes but there is a plethora of various modes which can be utilized in the making of music. Every piece of music we create tells a story, it originates from somewhere and sometimes, new music is inspired by what came before. For instance, I was listening to the music of Steve Reich, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Canarios, composed by Gaspar Sanz when I had a wonderful influx of new concepts to work with in my music. Essentially there is always a thread to follow. The question is, how far are you willing to go outside your comfort zone to create new artistic experiences. I don’t just compose music, I build it.

An Elegy For The Fallen Souls In Ukraine is exactly that, inspired by Threnody to the victims of Hiroshima. What I used to create this work was electronic instruments which culminates into different sets of sound, in the software, Ableton Live. The original intention was to create a layered piece of work which would culminate into a wall of sound, instead I was redirected to the war in Ukraine. People are losing their lives, in a fight to live in the place where they were born and raised. I know how it feels to leave your country of origin, how it feels to give up your home, even to lose it. I know how it feels to live in a country which has been at War throughout one’s childhood, teenage years and young adulthood. This is where the music I build comes into the discussion.

An Elegy […] features the viola, violin, two cellos, double bass and timpani. Much like Threnody […], the music is not meant to be tonal with an easy to remember melody. It is a lament for the people of Ukraine. The viola is used in the foreground and plays the main melody which is in a minor modal key. The cellos represent the sense of movement, fear and running. The violin was intentionally used in a rather high register for the purpose of illustrating the sorrow, grief, uncertainty and fracturing/brokenness of a nation as a result of a senseless war. The double bass represents the heart of the nation and is heard throughout the entire piece. The timpani are in the background and is an illustration of the bombings, shootings and other forms of warfare which is bombarding the country.

Unlike Threnody […] which was originally composed for other creative purposes by Penderecki, An Elegy […] was created in support of a country in need. The need for transparency, comradery is more important than ever. The need for change and being heard is paramount in the world we live in. A way to give people back their voice and freedoms is to create art, in all possible forms. This piece is my contribution to a body of work which could change nations.

To listen:

https://soundcloud.com/hsbotha/an-elegy-for-the-fallen-souls-in-ukraine

 To watch the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKksAl88MBU