Theatre artist Timothy Giles explores the movement of Revelation 9:1-6 in the composition of his song, “Abyss.”
1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. 2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. 3 And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. 5 And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. 6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
My background in music is varied, but the explanation for the way I work on pieces like ‘Abyss’ is best understood through my work as a theatre artist. I have a habit of getting myself in over my head, taking on opportunities that put my skills in the crucible. It’s a habit that delivers varied results, but the best chances to grow. Most of the music I wrote before being asked to compose for my first play has never touched another person’s ears. Even though I knew that the best experiences I often had were having music that I created or performed fit into an experience that went beyond me, whether that was people dancing to a band or seeing physical theatre backed by something I had written. Because I have always experienced music physically.
I love music for its ability to seemingly take over my body and I create music from that inspiration. When I went searching for the Bible verse I wanted to use for this project I was of course pulled to this passage, to its intense imagery and action. I wanted the movement inherent in the story to guide the music, and I wanted to do my best to capture the specific vision, dark and chaotic, that the verses created in my head. There’s extreme conflict in these lines: A hell on earth permitted by God whose end is only torture and no absolution, hope and longing for the comfort of death that is never answered, and mercy for some at the expense of others.
As a piece all on its own these verses are terrifying–as dark as the Inferno. I tried to work as much of this as possible into this composition–the conflict, terror, chaos, and longing. Each line becomes a piece of a movement in this musical representation. Though this is not my first attempt, I am not a composer of great orchestral music. That has been my crucible for this project. But it was a journey I was glad to take and I hope I have grown from it.
Tim Giles is primarily a theatre artist. He serves as the Assistant Director of HUB-BUB in Spartanburg and also works as an actor, composer, sound designer, teacher and whatever else presents itself. As a sound designer and composer he has worked exclusively on new works: the collaborative You Need. Go Search., Wallop by Charles Cissel, Treasure Island adapted by Jay Briggs, The Reckless Season by Lauren Ferebee, Organic Shrapnel by Charles Cissel, how i learned to become a SUPERHERO by Dennis Flanagan, and Blood Potato by James McManus.