|Numinous The Music of Joseph C. Phillips Jr.|
The Numinosum Blog
This post is the fifth in a series profiling some of the inspirations and thoughts behind the six movements of my composition Changing Same premiering March 16th, 2013 at the Ecstatic Music Festival in New York City. Previous posts in the series featured:
"You really want to know what being an X-Man feels like? Just be a smart bookish boy of color in a contemporary U.S. ghetto. Mamma mia! Like having bat wings or a pair of tentacles growing out of your chest. "1
I did not grow up in a ghetto, but that sentiment most definitely fit me in my younger years. Glasses, check; Comic books, check; computers, check. And while I was an outstanding athlete growing up, and had that to fall back on in the neighborhood social hierarchy, one of my younger pursuits was drawing my own comic books. One character I created was called Alpha Man: a lowly Earth physician who through a freakish accident (naturally) was imbued with the ‘cosmic force.’ Initially he was (ambivalently) on a team of evil, but after a nasty defeat he was banished to the far reaches of the galaxy, where he became a solitary exile wandering the universe; in the process he became a wise and sage protector. While one can detect hints of the Silver Surfer, the character of Alpha Man was more influenced by Carl Sagan. In his groundbreaking television series, Cosmos, which I watched as it premiered on PBS, a number of episodes imagined an interstellar space-ship, piloted by a single life form, traveling the mysteries of the universe collecting information for an ‘Encyclopædia Galactica’. This image continues to hold a particular fascination for me. Profane, beautiful, ebullient, and melancholy, it speaks of the eternal; not only of the infinity of the universe itself, but also the infinite capacity and imagination of the mind to explore the unknown (and the unknowable).
About ninth grade Gustav Holst’s The Planets was the first cassette tape I remember asking my mom to buy me. The entire piece, which sounded little like anything I had ever heard to that point (well maybe John Williams’s Star Wars), had a deep impact on my beginning musical aspirations. The movements “Venus” and “Saturn” were not my favorites back then (“Mars” and “Jupiter” were) but since then have offered inspiration that found its way into “Alpha Man.” “Saturn” from Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life, an album that was a tutor in my early musical schooling, was another appropriate addition to the development of “Alpha Man.”
Ecstatic Music Festival
with Imani Uzuri
Saturday March 16th, 2013
Merkin Concert Hall
129 W. 67th Street
(between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave)
Check back as I'll post some more crib notes about the movements from Changing Same.
Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, 22 (Riverhead Trade, 2008).
POSTED BY NUMINOUS AT 9:30 AM
To all things that create a sense of wonder and beauty that inspires and enlightens.