No tears, please. It’s a waste of good suffering.
– The Hellbound Heart, Clive Barker
This composition started with the desire to turn every letter of a book into music. I chose Clive Barker’s 1986 novella The Hellbound Heart which in 1987 became one of my favourite films: Hellraiser. I knew I would be spending an exceptionally long time with this material so it was important that it meant a lot to me and would sustain my interest. This piece, in all of its occasional tortuousness, seeks to reflect the themes, ideas and implications of Barker’s writing: hedonism, torture, puzzles, sexuality, extreme pleasure indistinguishable from pain, the horrifically beautiful interdimensional Cenobites, sadomasochism, blood and gore and ripping flesh, mysticism and murder.
When I read text I see perpetual patterns; a vast sea of letters talking to each other in all manner of languages, which are so numerous and so exciting to me. When reading most people do not see these and there is no reason they should, they generally don’t add anything to the subject matter. Every single letter of Barker’s book has its own specific note, chord or motif that evolves throughout the thirty-thousand bars (indeed, so did I, I was not the same composer when I wrote both pages one and one-thousand) varying based on the surrounding text in a multidimensional explosion of systems and connections, attempting to put into music the linguistic features that form the contents of the ocean, with its surface projection we skim across when reading. This piece was an utterly painstaking attempt to put these ideas into music and I take some beastly satisfaction that it took around 6666 hours to actually write. I hope this goes some way to celebrating the genius of Clive Barker’s wicked imagination and unparalleled writing style.
SOLO PIANO / DURATION c. 26 hours