how the night came is a soundscape creator and instrumental music artist based in Japan. In fall 2019 how the night came released three albums based on each of the three canticles of Dante’s Commedia: Dante’s Inferno (September 7, 2019), Dante’s Purgatory (October 12, 2019), and Dante’s Paradise (October 27, 2019). Each of these (especially Inferno and Purgatory) are grounded in close interpretation of and serious reflection on the poem, as evidenced by the descriptions given in the liner notes.
Of particular interest is how the night came’s sonic interpretation of Dante’s Purgatory. The description explains, “Since the setting of Purgatory is an earthquake prone mountain covered with walls of rock, massive boulders, stone steps, white marble carvings, the prideful being punished by bearing the weight of heavy rocks, stone effigies, and pavements, I wanted to incorporate stone into my composition.” Some of the album’s sounds are created using acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, keyboard, stones, chopsticks, and silence. Of the theme “BEATRICE,” which marks the arrival of Beatrice in Purgatorio 30 (15:57-16:30 in the album’s single track), the artist writes:
“BEATRICE is 33 seconds of silence. Her demolition of Dante is a staggering moment of world literature. Here, we read a medieval male poet attacking himself through the voice of a female. Initially, Beatrice turns to the angels to lambaste Dante, and when she finally addresses him… it is extremely painful for us to hear. I tried several musical themes for this moment, but they all failed miserably. I then recalled the scene in Taxi Driver when Travis (Robert De Niro) makes a humiliating phone call to Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) – Martin Scorcese has the camera turn away, as if to spare us seeing another human being suffer the pain of rejection. And thus silence – in this case, the musical equivalent of pulling the camera away – finally offered itself as the most fitting means for communicating Dante’s sense of loss, guilt, shame and inadequacy.
“(Perhaps this silence can also be heard as an expression of the absence of Virgil, who left Dante at the end of Canto 27).
“The silence is broken by the return of the Earthly Paradise theme, but this time it is quantized, the newly punctuated rhythms signifying the beginning of the strict realignment of Dante’s soul.” —how the night came’s WordPress site (accessed May 18, 2021)
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