Brooksbank, Maryam Best; Vocals Silbert Morris, Henry Miller; Djembe, Kumina Drums Elizabeth Hall; Xylophone, Gyile (Ghanaian Xylophone),
Djembe, Stick Christopher Best; Marimba, Glass, Voices, Sequencing,
Sampling Charlotte Stock, Andrew Jones, Anna Clark; Strings Peter Bernard; Trumpet Madeleine Bischof; Contrabass Flute Leo Bachmann; Contrabass Tuba With members of the Dartington College of Arts Balinese
Gamelan orchestra led by Saj Heming
Recording engineered by Christopher Best
1] Spirits of Yamalya Yamalya
is the mythological realm of the spirits of the dead, ruled over
by Yama, the god of death. The spirits have no physical embodiment
and serve partly as messengers; dragging the dead before Yama's
throne to receive divine judgment.
Savitri, a young Princess, sings to her husband Satyavan a song
of love and happiness. Savitri however bears a terrible secret,
for it has been foretold that Satyavan will die within the year. LISTEN:
The prophesied death of Satyavan.
The mortal world is angered and embittered to see such perfect
love denied. Savitri determines to win back Satyavan from Yama's
Yama surveys his domain and watches over the turmoil below. Ever
the 'restrainer' - keeping mankind in check - he remains unmoved
by their pleas and protests.
Amidst high ceremony, Satyavan's body is carried to its place
Savitri swoons over the body, re-living memories of spiritual
and sexual ecstasy.
Wake Dances (Kumina, Pacha, Yanvalu)
Savitri's reverie is broken by preparations for Satyavan's wake.
To the pounding rhythms of the Kumina drums, she transforms into
'Queenie', Priestess of the Wake Dance. Astride the mortal and
immortal worlds, she is able to seduce and entrap Yama, thereby
tricking him into a promise which demands the return of Satyavan
to the living world. LISTEN:
Satyavan is miraculously revived.
As he attempts to consummate their union, Yama is betrayed by
Savitri, leaving him heart-broken and incensed. Savitri and Satyavan
are re-united, destined to live happily together for 400 years.
A Fire Ritual (Agna Ayahi Vitaye)
With Yamalya in turmoil over Savitri's deceit, Yama invokes the
Mantra 'Agna Ayahi Vitaye', cleansing the world by ritual fire
and restoring divine order. LISTEN:
December 2000 I was approached by the visionary choreographer
Indra Thiagarajah of Bimba Dance Theatre to collaborate on a unique
journey, bringing western contemporary, South Indian classical
and traditional Caribbean dance languages together. It was to
be an exploration of the rituals that have emerged in response
to that most inevitable but uncharted of territories, death.
period of two years we worked with extraordinarily gifted dancers
from the Jamaican National Dance Company, under the guiding eye
of their principal director Barry Moncrieffe. Indra hatched a
scenario that seamlessly interwove myths from the Mahabharata,
(in particular the story of Savitri and Satyavan) with Jamaican
folklore. I helped shape the structure into a dramatically satisfying
form and began to consider what music I could possibly create
for this project. I knew I should avoid pastiche Indian or Jamaican
music; they lay outside my own tradition and it would have been
pointless to commission me if this was the kind of music needed.
At the same time, however, I felt strongly that my musical language
would need a powerful shot of something new and strange.
to experiment by devising non-tempered scales and by embracing
a diverse range of non-western instruments, each with its own
distinctive scale; such as the Gyile (or Ghanaian xylophone) with
its stretched octaves, and the Balinese Gamelan with its unusually
tuned 5-note scale. The result was an unearthly, at times disturbing,
sound that at the same time remained faithful to my techniques
'Twilight Tempest' was performed extensively between Autumn 2001
and Winter 2002. Principal performers included Neila Ebanks as
Savitri and Mark Hall as Yama. Many people approached me afterwards
asking for a copy of the music and I had a strong inclination
to find a way of giving this unusual score an after-life of its
own. For the CD version I have remained more or less faithful
to the original sequence of events; ensuring that the narrative
is clear and logical. I have also been able to reinstate certain
musical passages (Gyile Song and Processional for example) that
never made it into the final dance score.