⌉|⌈ – Für Alina

In 1976 — a year hardened by a big exodus within European confines, Alina, then eighteen years of age, left Tallin, Estonia, for a more promising life in England. Shipping in embrace with her father, she left only her mother, who was left in solitude. Arvo Pärt, by then a long-time friend of the family, syphoned from his years of composing and wove one of the most influential and sumptuous works of musical minimalism — Für Alina, the emblem of his tintinnabuli stylistic approach.

Music, unlike any other basilar-Art, envelops and takes command of a singular sense perception, and opposite to what modernistic music-videos would have you believe, Music itself pylons above little else than sound. Any aesthetic extension is dismissible to the gestalt of a piece. If a composition cannot support itself, a music-video has no worth, and shan’t amend the issue, since it is not constituent to the Art at-hand. There is, however, a very important semblance of aesthetic (by medium of thematic) in Music, laid at the very core of what makes Music, well, Music: giving order to noise and shape to silence — the simplest, most sincere description of the Art. 

Pärt, however, had many trepidations with that unique conception of his craft, and his dark, strikeful soul, compounded with the frigidity and abound lifelessness of the Estonian landscapes, opened those mires of sound that would pend and dip into those chilling waters of silence. He discovered that, perhaps, the soul of a weeping mother, missing and fearing dearly for her child, might connect more with the softness of absent sound than with the cadence and encore of a sole violin.

At roughly seventeen, I first heard this composition being played at a concerto in Lisbon’s suburbs, held in a poorly-lit office room with what felt like six sombering, silent listeners. Maybe such setting allowed me to feel the profound isolation hand-crafted by Arvo, the lingering restlessness of his notes, coalesced with sumps of a silence so-dense, so terribly overwhelming, it becomes a luscious shade that dances around you, and beats at tandem to a shrivelled heart. Alina was gone. Alina left, and with her, she took only her mother’s light, her mother’s life. And how many have done so, since, like Alina has? How many left? Leaving in their wake, the sounds of marching feet, slammed doors, doleful grunts and grievous wounds, followed by a prompt of marginal silence? Silence so long, so withering, it seems to hug you with heat?

Für Alina soothes (and suits) best, those who feel abandoned at the margins of a big, haunting desolation, much like Arvo did, much akin to Alina’s mother; but also, the composition itself does not lean only on a negative effect — there is, simultaneously, moments were it lends itself to the release of youth, to the prospect of a more-complete life, a stroll of innocence within the avenues of a reality where such innocence is rewarded, and not condemned, nor abused. But all the while, silence is still there, thus, pain is too; no truthfully sincere vision of a positive future may exist in a bubble of suspension, there must be descent, that bubble too must pend and dip into the chilling waters of silence; there is no courage in leaving, without fear for what is left behind. Arvo, then, dares not to shy away from his still-silent soul, one that still hurts much, even in the moments when it hurts less. Arvo then upheld the truth of a minimalist — that sadness and serenity cannot be fully translated by adagios and staccatos, that release and catharsis cannot be fully translated by crescendos and da capos, but that Music itself exists only because Silence does, too. This idea, this seed that Silence itself can be a carrier of Art, a medium of emotion far beyond our conventional perception of music, was thought of way before Pärt existed, but he alone mastered the weaving of silence beyond any of his predecessors, acing it with a grace and mastery equal only to the silent landscapes of his Estonian youth. 

I often ponder on this, for Pärt heavily influences my poetry, perhaps more than many poets I admire, and without ever stringing a singular verse; I connect more with his silence, than to the pristine sound of a Shakespearian sonnet; Because I am made of more silence than I am of memories of rosie lips and venetian balconies. Because life is as much a song, as it is a pause. A long, beautiful song, and a longer, sombering pause. 


I will leave you with a fellow Portuguese artist, Joana Gama, playing Für Alina with incredible technique and properness:


JOHNNY

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street lights and reeds. (english poetry)

street lights and reeds.


Author’s Notes:

This one is very sloppy structure-wise, but I’m living this thirties fantasy right now and I really felt like writing some stuff related to that, not sure why. But it makes me really happy!

The entire poem has references to Al Bowlly.

Thank you so much for reading,

JOHNNY

a breach in the system. (english poetry)

I know the last poem and this one are a bit weird and off-tracks for me. Do not be alarmed, I’m tinkering with new sound constructions for “ofuscus“, the sister structure to “excelse“, but since I’m just starting, it’s mostly an exploration of how variant I can make them sound without sacrificing much of both. These are mostly free-hand practices that allow me to gage and compare.

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Author’s notes: 

Line 12 is a reference to the book of the same name, “Heights of Despair”, by Emil Cioran. Highly advise you to seek it if you enjoy some grim phylosophy.

Line 1 is a reference to a song, all my compositions have at least one of these, sometimes more. In this case, it is “Odd Look” by french musician Kavinsky.

Line 17 might look a bit weird, Child is the symbol, while intrumental pain is the syntax. This is done purposefully, but the Child himself won’t appear just here, that’s why I symbolized it by means of capitalization. Its sort of a character but also a projection.


JOHNNY

pits of salidon. (english poetry)

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Author’s notes:

Line 21 is a reference to Albert Camus’s “The Myth of Sisyphus”

A bit of a poetic mesh of common denominators, but a heart-felt one nonetheless.


JOHNNY

A volt of gaze / day-breaker (english poetry)

“noise, peace” took a lot of my poetic energy to write, and I’m still slightly on cooldown. These times also great to compose, because they allow me to produce humble and simpler compositions that are just as necessary as others of higher complexity.

Heavily inspired by Chinese music and partiture, this specific composition is only special in the fact that it isn’t special. I quite like that.

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Disclaimer: “The Moon Sets Over a Desolate Castle” is a traditional chinese melody.

Author’s Note: the division of the composition is only aesthetically deliberate, the two parts do not have autonomy in either order or independence.

 

noise, peace (english poetry)

Y’all, I’ve been reading too much American poetry, so I’m going through this mixed phase of modernism and romanticism, I hope something good comes out of this because its certainly weird for me to write like this.

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Disclaimer: bulletless doesn’t seem to be a real word, but I don’t get why, so I’m gonna use it anyway.

Disclaimer 2: I’ve since revised the second part of the poem, so if you’re reading for a second time, you may find it different than the original. If you seek the original, you can find it here.


JOHNNY

(Vault) ARPA DIOS

Today was a specially hard day, I carried pain with me. And sometimes, days are sad, and I don’t know why.

I vaulted this composition a while ago, when I wrote it, I deemed it not good enough for sharing. Now, despite not being any better, it looks more heartfelt than ever.

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JOHNNY