• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 11
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Here are the instructions for this performance:

1. Breathe. Just breathe. Find your tempo, and play.

2. The performance should be as long as you can let it be. Try very hard not to stop.

3. Play it as best you can. Even when you think it won’t come can’t come will never come: breathe, and keep playing. Even when your throat tightens like a hand is around it, and the weight of the world presses heavy on your chest, and the blood sings in your ears and it sings a song of the end of everything: keep playing.

4. The performance will be complex and at times difficult. The notation will make no sense. The score will lead you towards a crescendo, then drop away, unresolved. You must continue.

5. At times as conductor I will be demanding, insistent, a tyrant.

6. At times I will walk out of the room, leave you with no instruction.

7. Some of the pages of the score will be blank. Some will be in the wrong order. Accept this, and play.

8. There will be times when you will lose all faith in the music; you will feel adrift, out of sight of land, sinking. The waves will close over your head and the sky will become just a lightness above the water. You will sink deeper and deeper until that lightness becomes just a stain and then that stain becomes nothing more than a memory of light.



9. You will find yourself in the hadal zone, the dead layer where light never was, never will be. Though they named it after hell, they were wrong. There are things down in the dark deep that may be strange and grotesque and improbable, but still: in their own ways they live, they breathe. Even under the terrible weight of the water, even in the darkness, do not stop. You have a performance to give.

10. Ignore the score. Ignore the conductor. The song is in you. Take a breath, and play it.