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The Quest: An Original Composition for a Life Philosophy

By Helena Lin, IV Form

The Quest: An Original Composition for a Life Philosophy

At the end of my fall Roman Religion and Philosophy class, Dr Harwood assigned us a free-swim Screenshot 2016-02-16 10.22.41final project that asked for a creative presentation, in any desired form, of something we found interesting and meaningful in what we learned in class. After several conferences with Dr Harwood, I decided to produce my first music composition, which aims to demonstrate my understanding of Epicureanism and Stoicism, the two Roman philosophies that we studied. (Click right image!)

Click here for mp4 My composition is an illustration of a man’s lifelong pursuit for his life philosophy, which is strongly affected by his experiences. In the early stage of life, he is a firm advocate of Epicureanism, settling in the happiness of tranquility and stableness. Free from social distractions, Epicureans are constantly pondering and seeking for internal peace within their hearts. Then, as this man meditates, questions arise. He doubts if life goes on this way and if he can remain in his own world.  Later, while he moves on, he encounters obstacles, which bring him to the realization of the dark side of fate and urge him to look for a better solution than escape from reality.  Stoicism gives him the answer. Stoics recognize the inevitable downfalls in life and thinks that one should confront failures with courage. Also, they find self-value by taking responsibilities in the society. Embracing the pains and marching on with a strong will, the protagonist has transformed from an Epicurean to a Stoic. While he fights his battles through the waves, he slowly realizes there are beauties in life, as well as in oneself, that one should not forget. After some flashbacks of his past, the man ultimately combines the ideas of Epicureanism and Stoicism. He strives with a peaceful heart.

With the intention to show this process, I wrote this piece titled “the Quest”. The opening theme, which stands for Epicureanism in major key, has a pastoral melody accompanied by repeated notes. The second theme, which represents Stoicism, is written in minor key. Triplets are used in the accompany to shape the direction of the melody. Later, fragments of the first theme appear, before the two themes come together as one at the end.

It was amazing how the philosophical ideas that I learned in class could be expressed through music. On the other hand, though it was my first endeavor composing music, developing musical ideas was made easier by my interpretation of Epicureanism and Stoicism. I am really glad that this final project offered me the opportunity to explore music composition, dig into Roman philosophies, and build a connection in between.

Please click here for the composition!

IMG_8705Helynna Lin is a IV Form boarding student from Guangzhou, China. She is the head of the school poetry club, plays the piano, and enjoys travelling.


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