A 7-minute standalone movement for vibraphone, small metal percussion, and saxophone quartet. Farewell to Flesh is the 2nd of 3 movements from a larger work titled Connectome which embarks on a captivating journey of musical exploration that delves into the intricate neural connections within the human brain. Just as a comprehensive map reveals the intricate wiring of the brain, this composition offers three distinct reflections on the potential futures that the mind's intricate network may lead us to.
In Part 1 - "Pashupatastra (From the Mahabharata)," we draw inspiration from an ancient tale. Arjuna seeks the sacred and formidable weapon, Pashupatastra, which possesses the power to vanquish both man and god. However, he is warned of its uncontrollable nature—the weapon cannot be discarded, returned, or reversed once unleashed. Echoing the spirit of a New Orleans funeral's second line, we contemplate whether we, as humans, have become the ultimate weapon, potentially aiming destruction upon ourselves. Could this be our own funeral march, accompanied by a recognizable yet fragmented melody?
Part 2 - "Farewell to the Flesh," an elegy, contemplates the prospect of achieving complete scans of our neural connections, creating accurate and comprehensive connectomes within our brains and nervous systems. This increasing likelihood raises profound questions about the transition to digital consciousness after death—an immortal existence. Yet, amidst this transformation, we ponder the mourning of our physical, sensual selves. Will emotions still resonate within us as code? Will a well-crafted joke evoke genuine laughter? Can we experience the senses of touch, taste, smell, and hearing? And as digital beings, will our very essence be subject to editing, replication, or the merging of human and artificial intelligence?
In Part 3 - "Rom in Space," we venture further into the future of space travel, imagining a time when all individuals have the freedom to traverse the cosmos. Picture a vibrant community of gypsies and nomads, filling the stars with their energy and creativity. This vision invites us to consider the boundless possibilities and the collective spirit that humanity, and perhaps even our connectomes, could bring to the uncharted realms of outer space.
"Connectome" offers a thought-provoking musical odyssey, exploring the intricate pathways of the human mind and the potential futures that lie within. Through evocative melodies and profound reflections, we invite you to contemplate the intertwined nature of our neural connections and the extraordinary possibilities that may await us on this extraordinary journey of self-discovery and cosmic exploration.
Watch and Listen
Farewell to Flesh (sax quartet and percussion)
for Sax Quartet and Percussion (from Connectome)
Commissioner: Alexej Gerassimez, Signum Sax Quartet, and Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommen
Instrumentation: Sop Sax, Alto Sax, Ten Sax, Bari Sax, Vibraphone/Junk Percussion
Premiered by Alexej Gerassimez and the Signum Sax Quartet on January 4, 2020 at the Festspiele Mecklenburg- Vorpommern, Germany
The second and third movement of Connectome
...a comprehensive map of neural connections in the brain; may be thought of as the brain's wiring diagram.
Three musical reflections on the possible futures that the wiring of the human mind might eventually lead us to.
Part 1 - Pashupatastra
(From the Mahabharata)... he asked for the sacred and deadly weapon Pashupatastra so that neither man nor god could prevail over him. Yet Shiva warns him of Pashupatastra's powers: Arjuna will not be able to dispose of the weapon or give it back, nor recall the horrible weapon once he wields it. It has the power to destroy the world.
A take on the New Orleans funeral 2nd line. Perhaps we (humans) are learning that we are the ultimate weapon, and we are aiming it at ourselves. Perhaps we ourselves are Pashupatastra, capable of destroying everything. Is this is our own funeral march (based on a very well-known fragmented melody)?
Part 2 - Farewell to the Flesh
An elegy. Inspired by the increasing likelihood that we will one day make complete scans - connectomes - of the neural connections in our brains and nervous systems that are so accurate and complete; we will exist after death as immortal digital consciousness. The ramifications of the transition to digital life are beyond understanding right now, but it's hard to imagine not mourning the loss of our physical, sensual, selves. So many questions: When I am code will I really feel emotion?
- Will a good joke make me laugh?
- Will I experience touch, taste, smell, hearing?
- Will someone be able to edit me? Make copies?
- Will I be I or AI?
Part 3 - Rom in Space
When we imagine the future of space travel it's common to think of astronauts and scientists, white space suits, and shining technology. But think much further ahead, when all of us get into space. Imagine gypsies and nomads with the freedom to roam anywhere, and the kind of energy they (and all the rest of us) will bring to the stars...
About the midi recordings:
A lot of time has been put into making the MIDI guide tracks as convincing as possible. From these it is possible to get a feel for the three movements. Some things are important to listen to and some things are important to ignore.
Saxes the dirty sound in Part 1 and the way notes start and end (breathy, dirty, flzg, etc.) Saxes - general tone colour in all three parts. These are the sounds that inspired the writing.
Drums - listen to MIDI for the drum feel (sometimes it is on, sometimes behind, and sometimes in front of the beat, sometimes loose, sometimes tight).
Drums - The same crash cymbal has been used in most places. Cymbal choices are left up to the performer, except in a few places where 'sp' has been indicated for use of the splash cymbal.
A lot of the information above is not in the score, it's important to learn from both the audio guides and the notated scores.
Saxes the way grace notes are articulated (these often seem to be individually tongued, a byproduct of the sample libraries used).
Baritone end of Part 2: ignore the intense vibrato on the long cresc/dim notes. These were the only samples available. These should be senza vib. or minimal vib.
- Soprano Saxophone
- Alto Saxophone
- Tenor Saxophone
- Baritone Saxophone
Percussion (1 player):
- Tuned metal junk
- Drum Set (kick, snare, hi-hat, 4 toms, 4 cymbals [splash, china, crash, ride], tambourine [mounted]
Demonstration of Metal Sounds