On the Consequence of Sound (read Power)
– by Timothy Dimacali
This beautiful story revolving around sound as a source of power is narrated from the innocent perspective of a little child. As she learns about the mystic powers and legends of divine creatures that wield this power. The layers of the story reveal the worldbuilding of man’s shifting values around this source of power – from worshipping it, to mining it, to ultimately controlling the main sources of it. The story ends in an unexpected twist that reveals the ugly face of the reality of man’s desire to control this power while justifying it in tradition and secrecy. Perhaps the author intends to draw analogies to the greed of humanity and its ugly consequences from the title. After reading the story, I am definitely re-reading the title in retrospect as “On the consequence of Power”
Through the eyes of our protagonist, a little girl, learning about the history and development, the author intersperses the narrative with quotations from a fictitious academia. Quoting legends, stories, PhD thesis to support the inspiration behind each new development in the world. The way I summarize the story is through the different layers of chasing behind Power.
Gravidium Ore which responds and resonates with sound/music that allows it to levitate.
1. The Mystical/Divine Power:
Legend of Bakunawa inspired creature named Butanding (sky whales), that ruled the skies – booming thunder of calls communicating. (Theme – a choice that the young calf gets to make about following her family or not). Levitation is first described as an almost divine ability which the creatures from legends yielded.
2. The Human Navigator’s Power:
City of Intramuros, - described with sounds first. – dawn hymns of monks, clacking horse hooves, rhythmic thumping of mortars – sounds of ritual and habit. Royal galleon ship of the sky arrives over the city – steady tempo, cascade of notes in swelling and receding waves of sonorous rapture. The navigator is described as a reputed and powerful profession of controlling the gravidium ore through music for navigating the ships. Now humans of repute and power are yielding the power of levitation.
3. The Innocent beginnings of power:
On her seventh birthday - Finding the resonating point of the bathlani ore to learn levitation through a flute like instrument - Kubing. Later gifted the Amati Viol instrument (purposefully designed for levitation) – fingerboard, bow control – solfegges, scales, arpeggios, etudes, caprices. Musical concepts are used to describe gaining control over levitation. Our protagonist succeeds in her first attempts at mastering Levitation to eventually join the ranks of the reputed navigators like her father. She has made her innocent choice of flying with the Butandings (sky whales).
4. The ugly truth of Power:
The big secret of the navigators comes from the purest finest bathalani ore that is obtained from inside the body of the sky whales (Butanding). The Butanding first change from the mystical animals to mere steeds that help carry them to the mountain and later they become sacrifices for the human needs of mining the ore. Our protagonist is not given any real choice at this point and has to choose between “death to keep the secret” at the hands of her father or to go forward with killing the sacred creature to obtain the ore.
Thinking about the Artifact:
A close example of the artifact as a toy is the star wars levitation game from a few years back.
And an actual example of similar levitating units being used as a musical sequencer can be found from the creatively ever-abundant NIME conference (link to paper)