Finding Judas Iscariot (in musical terms)

in originalmusic •  2 months ago 

(Disclaimer: Now entering the nightmare zone of the G flat/E flat matrix ... disturbing music ahead... opinions on the upcoming nightmarish musical visions welcome ... which of the three "does it" for YOU?)

Double minor sets.png

"I don't want to be a Judas in my heart" -- that is the fourth verse in that great heart cry of the Christians in chains of bondage who created the Negro Spiritual "Lord, I Want To Be a Christian In My Heart." The reference is of course to Judas Iscariot, the arch-traitor to whom all traitors everywhere the Bible is known and believed are compared with. He is reviled forever for betraying the Lord Jesus into the hands of those who wished to take His life for just thirty pieces of silver -- the crime of the ages, to say nothing of the first century.

In the case of my re-arranging this spiritual, I have truly striven to create an atmosphere of beauty almost not of this world to capture the whole idea of my Christian ancestors in chains realizing that they were free enough to become the adopted children of God, and to be loving and holy like Him to one another in spite of the bitter, brutal reality of their enslavement.

HOWEVER, even within them as it is within everyone, the betraying sin nature, that all too immovable human capacity for evil, still lurked. And, should one of them have struck out for physical freedom in that time, there was always the danger of a Judas slave -- a slave who would tell the cruel slave master about others' plans for escape, in exchange for favors from that master. Thirty pieces of silver came in many forms, in slavery days ... surely my ancestors understood the kind of cruel wickedness that was in the heart of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed the innocent blood to cruel murder for money.

So, what does that even mean in terms of writing this music? The "Judas" section in "Lord, I Want To Be a Christian" is only eight bars; not a lot of time to work with any way I cut it. And, one has to remember that this is not the end of the story: the end is when the Spirit leads the Christian to realize that he or she can be like Jesus, not Judas. So, a short, bleak passage with a happy ending... but the bleak has to be BLEAK, bleaker than anything I have attempted in years, the stuff of nightmares... hence...

Nightmare #1

This is based roughly on the passage writing in the intro and majority of the piece...

... and thus is more developed than say,

Nightmare #2

Forget any attempt at beauty here. Here I just wanted to bask in the awfulness of the chord tension between E flat minor and B minor before resolving to G flat (and it is even more awful between B minor and G minor, resolving to D -- so that's good). Still, this lacked the sense of confusion and active evil, so I reached even deeper...

Nightmare #3

Imagine being in prayer with your friends when set upon by a torch-and-weapon-carrying mob led by a presumed friend who was once so trusted that he was the treasurer ... a man now literally hell-bent on giving you to those who will not stop at nothing to see you dead for a crime you didn't commit. That was the situation two thousand years ago in the Garden of Gethsemane for the Lord Jesus and His disciples. Lesser but tragically similar echos of such satanic evil have occurred since ... the paddy rollers and later lynch mobs of the South, setting upon Black people in their secret places, their homes, and churches for the "crime" of getting or being free AFTER being tipped off by some traitor... yes, my ancestors even down to my parents' generation had and have an understanding of what that situation in the Garden of Gethsemane might have been like.

All the stuff of nightmares ... that is what is being contended with in the fourth verse of "Lord, I Want To Be a Christian" ... oh, NOT to be like Judas! I want that to be CLEAR in just the little eight bars I have to work with. I'm still not sure on exactly HOW... I will probably make a decision this weekend on which of the ideas here to work with.

Meanwhile, as always...
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