Contemporary Soundtrack to Miraj

Medium: Mixtape/Playlist

 

In response to the Swahili Miracles of Mohammed, I engaged with imagining the various aspects of the levels of heaven during the Miraj and how the process of the journey could be conveyed with curating contemporary sound only. In particular I limited myself to choosing from tracks I could find on Spotify. I chose to break the night journey down into various stages, and match each with a contemporary song that embodied each stage aurally. The end result was a sequenced playlist which interprets the arc of the Miraj divided into five stages of the journey: Flight, Consequence, Ascension, Curtains, Return.

 

Flight

Buraq carries the Prophet from Earth towards Heaven. I chose “Nights Off” by Siriusmo for this stage. The first thing we hear is an arpeggiator synth (0:00 – 0:14) making a continuous pattern – oscillating between four different chords. This repetition continues throughout the entire song even behind the melodies, conveying a sense of constant and consistent kinesis of the flight. The listener’s heightened sensation of movement is further enhanced with the driving feel of later instruments such as the higher pitched marimba sound (2:15-2:30). These audio factors combine to generate a sense of traveling, mid-air flight, which conveys the Prophet’s journey with Buraq.

 

Consequence

The Prophet gets a glimpse of the Seven Hells. I chose “Redemption” by Zack Hemsey. Overall Miracles of Mohammed characterizes the scenes of this stage as “hard to describe”, making this a tough song to place overall – I chose to focus on the idea of judgment having a heavy auditory feel (77). The song’s first minute is eerie with the foreshadow of a heavy attack in the backdrop. Starting from (1:00 onwards) this attack of the timpani drums come in and act as the musical motif for judgment, and punishment as the heavy consequence of sin. The attack of the horns in new musical phrases accompanies each changing glance the Prophet makes at viewing another part of Hell – switching view from the evil men forced to drink from boiling cauldrons, to the woman being cooked over a fire alive, and so forth.

 

Ascension

The Prophet continues up the Seven levels of Heaven. I chose “Still Waters” by Breakbot. The important theme I wanted to convey here was the climb and a consistent but more nuanced sense of rising via ladders and stairs, rather than smoother ride on a flying steed as in the first stage. Even though the drums fall rather straight on the beat, the syncopation of the bass line (0:31 onwards) gives the song an organic stepping sensation while maintaining a positive vibe to accompany the Prophet connecting with the previous Prophets before him across the levels of Heaven each made of a different precious metal or stone.

 

Curtains

With God’s face-to-face revelation to the Prophet, I picked “Best Moments” by Kondor and Blazo to convey the beauty and holiness of the Prophet’s experience. Miracles of Mohammed reveals upon first meeting God, the Prophet even “fainted, but there was His own hand to support me” (82). This unsure moment of light-headedness is reflected in the beginning before the beat kicks in to regulate the ear. Later the musical motif of the angelic chorus creates musical halos in the listener’s ear, a reminder that divine light and prophetic light have met for the Prophet to receive the commandments, and the beauty of the Garden paradise is finally revealed.

 

Return

Finally I center on the transcendence of time and space as a theme for the Prophet’s return. With “True” by Spandau Ballet, I finally use a song that has lyrics (albeit rather limited). I did choose it for its calm feel, almost like a lullaby for the Prophet returning back to his bed to go back to sleep. However, more importantly it lyrically touches upon dreams and truth. “But now I’ve come back again”, and “I know this much is true” is repeated in the chorus, to remind the listener that the Prophet’s journey may have happened in a dream-like state, but that nonetheless it is true!

 

With this mixtape series of five songs and twenty-one minutes, I have created a musical arc representing and recapping the Prophet’s night journey, all expressed with contemporary music which I invite you to enjoy.

 

-Week 4

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