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  • Writer's picturedjSwade

Descending Electric

What do you think of when you hear the phrase descending electric? When I was composing the song "Descending Electric," (from my new album Audiostrata), I wanted to purposely create a song with downward melodic movement. Since the song employs quite a few electric guitar riffs, I thought the name "Descending Electric" captured the true spirit of the song. After I completed the it, I began to further ponder the name, as it seemed especially evocative to me. As I did so, I recalled references in pop culture, literature, music, art and mythology that reminded me of it.

The first thing that popped up into my head was Marcel Duchamp and his revolutionary Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2. Next, I started poking around the internet to find other uses and references to descending and I stumbled on the descending tetrachord of doom. Wow! What a sinister name. It sounds like something out of Marvel Comics. Then I spotted the Tennessee Williams play Orpheus Descending. After that, I changed tactics and did some free association. Almost immediately, a host of positive, graceful and beautiful images flooded my brain: a gentle rain on a summer day; a garish hot air balloon; a jet airplane on approach; a spiral staircase (with or without a nude descending); the glorious setting sun; a shooting star; a swooping drone; music phrases and melodies; red, yellow and orange leaves falling in autumn; and pelicans gliding, then diving.

As I mused on the word descending, "I Sing the Body Electric," the Walt Whitman poem has inspired a Twilight Zone episode and music by Rush and Lana Del Rey, kept popping up in my head. I took that as a sign to explore the other word in my song's title. So, I dusted off my Greek mythology text and looked up Electra (Elektra in Greek), a principal character in two Greek tragedies, Electra by Sophocles and Electra by Euripides, as well as many other plays, operas and stories. She even has an asteroid named after her! The name Electra variously means "bright one," and "amber." There are rumors that we get our word electricity from Electra. I can see how that might be true. When I listen to "Descending Electric," I like to think Electra is the female voice.

At that point, I decided to call it a day, because the song itself meant all these things and so much more to me than I could articulate. So, having learned, as well as reacquainted myself, with several interesting morsels of information, I decided to make good use of the visuals running through my brain to put together the song's video. Time well spent.


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