Cornelius Boots writes: The second 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.
“Underworld images are ontological statements about the soul, how it exists in and for itself beyond life.”
The duo is divided into two sections: Nekyia and Hypnoia. Each of these is a Greek myth-nerd term for some key aspect of an archetypal descent into the underworld. In fact, nekyia is a term that specifically means “archetypal descent” as one finds in myths across the ages from Dante to the Greeks and beyond. Hillman sees a lack of sufficient nekyiamyths in our modern culture, “yet our popular heroes in films and music are shady underworld characters. Dante’s underworld was our culture’s last, and it was imagined even before the Renaissance had properly begun. Our ethnic roots reach back to great underworld configurations: the Celtic Dagda or Cerunos, the Germanic Hel, and the Biblical Sheol. All have faded…” (p.64)
Hyponoia is a more subtle term used by Plato that refers to an “undersense” or a “deeper meaning.” “The search for undersense is what we express in common speech as the desire to understand. We want to get below what is going on and see its basis, its fundamentals, how and where it is grounded.” (p. 137) This deeper understanding is one of the motivations and constant characteristics of the underworld descent: but the discoveries made and experiences experienced are not always as they seem to be. Hillman recommends over and over that we “see and see into each thing for what it is,” and not force a dayworld perspective onto dream images and occurrences.
As a duo movement, the term enantiodromia (“counter” enantio, and “running” dromia) is particularly appropriate as it is a grounding principle by which Jung understands the “regulative function of opposites.” As Hillman tends to turn things on their metaphorical heads, he fleshes out dualism and oppositionalism in such a way that in the underworld this actually becomes a unifying principle: “If you go far enough with any one movement, a countermovement will set in…The way up and the way down are one and the same: the manifestation of one power by opposite forces.” (p. 76) This implies a union of the two opposites, a conjunction as contrasted with an opposition. There are two voices but they are both flutes; there are two contrasting halves to the piece, yet they balance each other even in their differences.
parts included: Flute 1, 2