The third part of the Chthonic Flute Suite commissioned by Areon Flutes in 2012. This suite has two main inspirations: ideologically it draws guidance from the book The Dream and the Underworld (1979)by James Hillman (1926-2011) and musically it explores the textural possibilities of a flute ensemble within the context of the “heavy chamber music” style I have developed with Edmund Welles: the bass clarinet quartet since 1996. This style draws virtuosic precision from the classical realm; innovation and texture from jazz; and power, rhythm and overall perspective from rock and metal. The term “chthonic” [thon-ik] generally means “underworld.” However, Hillman thoroughly elaborates that its true meaning extends “below the earth and beyond it” into invisible, non-physical and far distant psychic realms: the deeper mysteries of the invisible.
The trio is divided into three sections: The Way We Descend–Reflection of Narcissus–Below Nature.
Taking a break from Greek myth-nerd terms, this movement introduces chthonic-flavored phrases that elaborate on our descent into the underworld, specifically through dreams. The realm of the underworld can be such a shock to our dayworld, limited, egoic consciousness that it can seem like a “violation” as Hillman points out, referencing the Greeks: “This style of the underworld experience is overwhelming, it comes as violation, dragging one out of life and into the Kingdom that the Orphic Hymn to Pluto describes as ‘void of day.’ So it often says on Greek epitaphs that entering Hades is ‘leaving the sweet sunlight.’” (p.49) He elaborates on the differences between dayworld and underworld perspectives: “The dream is not compensation but initiation. It does not complete ego-consciousness, but voids it. So it matters very much the way we descend.” (p.112) He goes on to describe the various modes in which mythical figures have descended: Ulysses and Aenas to learn; Hercules to take and to test, for example. To act like Hercules, like the hero, in the underworld is to miss the point and cause more problems, “the villain in the underworld is the heroic ego, not Hades.” (p.113)
parts included: Flute 1, 2, 3/Alto Flute