2018 I Hegenheim I Bern
For my thesis in Fine Arts, I intensely researched the different shades of sorrow. Right after my second burn-out as an artist, my only way to survive was to heal my soul through songs. So I completed my studies as a performer. The research took more than a year. During this period we performed a play called Serendipity several times with Inside the Baxter Building. There, I mostly expressed the following feelings: grief, sorrow, hüzün, acı, Trauer, Kummer, bánat, bú. As a part of the thesis, I wrote some texts about three forms of grief, to be read below.
Le Ventre I Serendipity I Inside the Baxter Building I photos: Lucía DeMosteyrín
Because of my long way from gloomy sorrow back to life was enlightened by lullabies, traditional mourning and curse songs, my knowledge about healing melodies became pretty deep. In order to share this experience, I plan to release an album with 12 songs, defined by the different shades of sorrow.
Would you like to support me in making this album? Here is my contact link.
Dampfzentrale I Serendipity I Inside the Baxter Building I photos: Esther Mathis
The following texts are some of my published notes on the experiments, with the artistic and linguistic analysis of grief. I analysed different sensations of sorrow, to set up categories and find some proper balancing tools. I described all my feelings through sounds, consistency and colours. Then, I matched them with melodies and emotions so they are dissolved, eliminated or balanced.
Hüzün is a specific feeling in the triangle of sadness, melancholy and gloominess. It sounds warm and yellowish, an oriental cousin of the brown and cold occidental melancholy. Yellow, but has little to do with the sentimental, nostalgic brown-yellow of old photos. This yellow, is a glimmering reflection of the sun on dust particles. A kind of supernatural phenomenon that, just like haze, is rare but can be regular with a specific climate. The very place to meet hüzün is Istanbul.
Hüzün is an airlike substance neither solid nor liquid. When hüzün is there, we can only look at the world through hüzün. It surrounds everything. We also inhale it, our body gets filled up with it, thus connecting us constantly with our surroundings. We cannot feel hüzün about something. Hüzün is just there. Smoothly and tenderly. It emerges typically while thinking of places that do not exist anymore or have never existed. Places created by fantasy or situations we have never witnessed but we know from stories or pictures. Hüzün is the dreamy sister of déjà vu. However, as opposed to déjá vu, we never try to figure out what was behind hüzün or what caused it to be there. It is a calm feeling of the beautiful memory of something that possibly never existed. It comes and goes without our direct influence. Unexpectedly it is there, disturbing the usual perception and just like fog, it fades away slowly and tenderly.
My way to handle hüzün is to slow down. To realise, that it is pointless to fight against, and to accept it. Because, just like fog, hüzün looks light but it at the same time is powerful enough to block you. To sing melodies, that help you drive away the looming shadow of a deep sorrow. To sing songs like lullabies, that help to sway you around gently, until time heels. After a curing nap, you will wake up from hüzün wondering if it was a dream.
Bánat is a Hungarian word for grief. Bánat comes from the family of sorrow and it is a sibling of hopelessness and solitude. Bánat is always caused by something that is perceived as a sorrowful happening, in which the individual is passive/inactive. So, she or he suffers as a victim of the happenings, as the Hungarian say ‘you are eaten up by bánat’.
Bánat is a thick liquid, that swallows everything, by spreading slowly onto the individual's soul. Under this thick liquid, there is no light, no air, there is nothing but silence. Deep, black nothingness, where the person is alone and has no connection with the outside world.
Bánat has two types (bú-bánat): one is like a bog (bú) and the other one is like lava (bánat). The first difference is in the speed of the process. Bog-like bú folds out slowly and smoothly, so the person feels the loss of air and light step by step. With lava-like bánat, air and light are taken away all of a sudden. Both, suffocate the soul in a different way: lava burns it quickly and leaves traces of the burnt part, like the relics of Pompei, while the bog, conserves the dead soul-part as a mummy.
Bog-like bú is brownish-black and cold. All its warmth appears first as an afterglow. Similar to the burning marsh gas, bog-like bú creates different feelings that start to burn up spontaneously with a bluish-yellow flame. Lava-like bánat is flaming-black and burning hot. Same as lava it looks like a miracle itself: it is a burning and moving molten rock.
In both cases of búbánat the relics of the trauma stay with the soul: either as a print created by lava or as a mummy conserved by bog.
To handle bog-like bú, I advise you to sing songs that warm up your cold soul. Melodies, that bring about the short and powerful afterglows. The way to emerge from the depth of the marsh is to concentrate on the fen fire’s flashing miracle.
To handle lava-like bánat, I advise you to sing melodies that feel lukewarm and remind you of a drizzle, slowly cooling down the volcano’s heat. Repetitive chants wash the ashes tenderly into the craters of your soul’s new landscape. After cooling down, the soul needs a break of silence. Later, the same melody will help you to nourish the new, enriched flora of your soul.
Sorrow is poison-green and velvety-soft. Occasionally, combined with the feeling of regret, it is caused by the loss of something or somebody. Sorrow is the music of a drama’s second act: the first voice after the dead silence indicated by trauma. It is like moss, the first visible sign of life on a broken heart’s stone. So its painful tone is touching and hopeful, like the cry of a newborn.
Sorrow is a very slow song sung in an unknown language, by a genderless voice. The sorrowful person never knows where the fairy melody comes from, but it for sure helps one to stand up. It is the innocent cousin of the siren song, mysterious and tempting, but never destructive. While siren song is deceptive, sorrow is deeply true.
Sorrow has no specific tonality. It changes itself in the course of time like the colour of a healing wound. Sorrow’s nature is welcoming. The moment you hear its melody, it appears as something already known and invites you to hum together. It is not only the sorrowful person who can hear this melody. Those, around can also listen to it. So, it is a distant relative of ancient mourning songs: sorrow’s melodies are also sung from generation to generation. Even a long time after a trauma, sorrow is still a remedy to the feeling of emptiness caused by a loss. Whenever its misery is remembered, sorrow’s melody can shepherd the feelings from the thundery field, to a calm and melancholic stall.