I commissioned a song to get a better grasp on the cultural context of the story.
To better understand the geographic and cultural context of the story.
I needed to detach from this part of the process because I was seeing it from such a close distance that I was overwhelmed.
To commission a musical piece for me to question and project on. Music is rich in layers and patterns, and it can also have narrative qualities that I could reflect on.
To commission Fabrizio, my peer, the national anthem or a folk song from the civilization contained in my story.
- Define what to communicate and what not to communicate to Fabrizio, what input would benefit or damage his process.
- Fabrizio had been close to my trajectory during the masters, and we had several conversations around the themes and the story itself, so he already managed a lot of information.
- I sent him what I had written at the moment: half of the outline and a couple of possible endings, none of which made it to the current version of the story.
- Have a conversation with Fabrizio for him to clarify what he needed to.
- This was, unexpectedly, the most relevant moment for me in this experiment. Fabrizio asked me: “Either if it is a folk song or a national anthem, what story does it narrate?”. For some reason I replied: “It is the story about a selfless king who sacrificed his most precious belonging to save the kingdom. He went to battle an enemy state along with his only son. His son died in the battlefield. The king never recovered.”. I had been studying the philosophical ideas put forward by Christianity, so there you go.
- Guess what Fabrizio would create.
- Speculating on the structural and instrumental decisions Fabrizio would take to produce this song made me think of questions like: “If they live in an island, what would their music tradition be like? It depends on the sounds they are surrounded by and felt drawn to imitate (species of birds), also the activities they engage in, for instance, if they do lots of manual work in the field, perhaps they sing or whistle for the sake of entertaining themselves or for practical reasons (to attract and hunt prey, to communicate). Their instruments would be made from local species of plants and animals. What species do they have? Where are they positioned? In isolation, close to a Terrestrial Pole, Perhaps the North Pole. What civilizations would have conquered them or vice versa so I can steal some of their cultural tradition to influence theirs?”.
- Listen to the first version of the song. (fig.1)
- I was moved by it, since it made me think of the narrative of the King losing his son.
- No additional ideas have come to my mind so far by listening to it.
Negative. I got nothing of special value by listening to piece.
Positive by luck. The question Fabrizio asked me and me me guessing what decisions would he take made me think of information that ended up shaping the story.
Lesson for the research
As I kept writing, I had to renegotiate some aspects of his biography and personality, otherwise he would be too weak and passive. So the experiment did not serve the purpose of defining him, but of putting forward possibilities and modulating them.
Progress in the story
In political terms, I decided that it was a kingdom, which also came with the decision of working on a completely fictional world. Also, the king (the Young Prince in the short film) has become a relevant character in the story.
In temporal terms, for the means and technologies necessaries to narrate this story, they would be positioned in a technological Era equivalent to the Late Middle Ages, which served as a clear point to look for visual and musical references.
Song composed by Fabrizio Durán Villalobos as an early reaction to the story I am writing.