Dwarf Planets (2007)-research

1) Eris: Discovered in 2005, Eris is the newest, the most remote and the largest of the dwarf planets. It was originally called Xena (after the popular television show) but was given its official name in September 2006. Eris was the Greek goddess of strife and chaos and is today considered the matron saint of Discordianism: a chaos-based religion founded in the late 1950’s. Eris takes 560 years to orbit the Sun and the average surface temperature is very close to absolute zero. Members of the orchestra suggested that chaos could be easily portrayed musically through improvisation, layering of textures, free notation, etc. Chaos was also extended to other aspects of disruptive behaviour including whispering, talking and the intrusion of modern technologies. The coldness of some of the material is offset by a sense of freedom and playfulness.

2) Ceres: In Roman mythology, Ceres was the goddess of growing food, life cycles and of motherly love. Our discussions around musical character suggested that the music should be quite traditional, lyrical and simple. The idea of cycles should also be featured somehow, through melody or chord progressions. The planet Ceres (discovered in 1801) is a fairly close neighbour to the Earth and it has been suggested that human beings may colonize there. This possibility, and the likelihood that we would end up damaging that planet as well, gives the music a certain sadness.

3) Pluto: This is the second largest dwarf planet. In Roman mythology, Pluto is the god of the underworld and often associated with Satan. Pluto is also associated with great wealth–a giver of gold, silver and other mined substances—and of power and corruption. Pluto’s orbit is highly eccentric and inclined. As a result, its path intersects Neptune’s putting it in a position that is closer to the Sun. This intersection point is a climactic point in the movement—mm. 158—where a twisted version of the main theme from Holst’s Neptune is combined with one of Pluto’s principle themes. The music of Pluto is for the most part rugged, with some elliptic references to heavy metal.

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