The @ds106DC Daily Create took me on an unexpected journey, but then the best ones always do. The task for the community was to share a peace playlist (#ds106 = our community hashtag, #tdc1979 = the daily create (number) 1979). I heard an array of peaceful and evocative music, and instantly had to go and play some Debussy. Peace and tranquility is so perfectly reflected in his music.
What happened next? In an effort to record what I played over thirty years ago in my Grade 8 Distinction Piano Exam (via Garageband, Kawai piano and midi-interface), after a few attempts I pasted a reasonable introduction to a reasonable melody section, being hideously out of practice. The music clashed and created beautiful textures and waves. It was like being thrown around on a calm and then rough sea as the music passages collided with each other.
The word ‘peace’ has haunted me ever since I visited the Whitney Plantation, Lousiana in 2016. The plantation is a heart wrenching memorial of the homes and lives of the slaves who were impounded there. I implore you to look up the plantation and the work of John Cummings and colleagues who have fought to tell the stories of the slaves and their children. The quotation was from a series of interviews with the last inhabitants of the plantation, and the lists of beautiful names belie the chilling realisation that these weren’t their real names; they were given, often changed when the children were sold on, empty letters. It is staggering today that many local tourist offices don’t recognise the plantation – and the real stories within it.
I hope the music is fitting for the quotation in some way. The Debussy Arabesque Number 1 is based on a pentatonic scale – based on five notes – rippling up and down. It has an emptiness about it. Debussy often builds up to quite forceful passages and I liked the way they clashed angrily in the recording. Toward the end more of the staccato (jumpy) passages sound more playful, and I like to hope that these children knew what it was to play.
Stories are so important. People are important.