“ Without music, life would be a mistake” – Fredrich Nietzsche
This is a story about traversing ‘time with tempo’ – embodied in a historical music novella through the “Seventies”, i.e., the 1770s, 1870s, 1970s, and 2070s – blending musical genres, instrumentation, and immersive visuals. We follow Siena, a young songstress, as she learns about herself and her emotions, through an ethereal romance, with Alfredo.
It’s winter in 1924 and Siena is an aspiring singer, seeking to find a break in her career. A mere 18 years old, her grandparents, quite devout, raised her while learning her craft through years of church choir. In fact, most of her teenage years have been spent in and around the church, limiting her social interactions and concentrating on charity outreach and choir. Naïve and innocent, and in many ways sheltered by her grandparents, she has never had a romantic interest, but can feel herself now becoming a young woman, with feelings, emotions, and desires.
Her talents have been somewhat recognized, in that she was asked to perform with a new church vocal group some hundreds of miles away, requiring her to take an overnight train. She boards the train, nestles into her seat, and begins to play and replay in her mind the musical selections she will be performing over the next few days. She relaxes and gently falls asleep and begins to dream.
Her dream whisks her back in time, to the 1770s, and finds her placed in a beautiful Italian palazzo, just outside of Firenze. She admires the beauty and even opulence of the setting, and saunters down a long hallway. In a special moment of time, she hears a beautiful waft of music, which motivates her to follow it. The sound and mix becomes more mesmerizing as she approaches it. She comes upon a large double door, closed, at the end of the hallway. On it, a sign marks a name – Alfredo. The sound abounds and she wants to find out who is delivering such wonderfully eclectic music. Siena gently pushes one of the doors open, peering in around the edge, only to find the most handsome pianist, Alfredo, performing on the keys. The door creaked as it opened, disturbing Alfredo’s concentration, and he looks to the doorway, to find Siena in full surprise. Their eyes lock and they both stop a breath. While staring for a just few seconds, it seemed like an eternity for Siena, as she felt her heart race, music and Alfredo filling her mind and soul. The door creaks once again as Siena’s leaning on the door moves it slightly and disturbs the concentration of both Siena and Alfredo. He spurts out “Vada prego” (It: Please leave), and Siena backs quickly away from the door and runs back down the hallway at break neck speed. She stops enervated, drops to the floor sitting with her face in her hands, closes her eyes and reflects. In one respect, she’s embarrassed to have disturbed Alfredo, but in the other respect Alfredo and his music seemed to place an intriguing and emotional spell on her. She’s a bit smitten.
She catches her breath, raises her head from her hands and notices she is in a different place. Siena finds herself sitting at a table in a saloon in the gold rush territory of California in 1874. The saloon is hopping with crazed miners, saloon girls, and miscellaneous others. Supporting the energy flow, there’s a piano player in the corner, accompanied by a fiddler. Siena tries to shake her head clear as to where she is, and she hears a melodic riff from the piano, sounding eerily like the piece that she heard moments ago in the Italian palazzo. She gazes over to the piano, and her breath stops. It appears to be Alfredo, the pianist from earlier, now attired a century later. She gets up from the table and makes her way to the piano. Slowly but deliberately she focuses on that face, which had been etched in her mind. As she approaches, he turns towards her and welcomes her into the saloon. He is obviously captivated by her beauty, but continues to play the keys. The music drifts into the ethereal, as Siena traverses between the new found conversation with Alfredo and the music he produces. The conversation becomes more engaging, and both Siena and Alfredo seem to be falling for each other. He pulls one hand from the keys and places it on top of hers. She melts and dreams, listening to him play with one hand while touching her with his other. An electrical connection between Alfredo, Siena and the piano.
A shot rings out outside the saloon, and Alfredo jumps up and leaves his bench to runs to the site of the commotion. He leaves Siena’s side abruptly, but as he exits the saloon, he looks back and smiles. She believes she has found her love in life. As the saloon is emptied, Siena stands alone, and it’s time for her to walk outside. She pushes on the springing doors, and she finds herself in the midst of rock concert, vintage 1975.
She seems to be able to drift above the masses at the show, floating wistfully capturing views of the audience and in front of her, an incredible stage. The music while deafening seems to have that familiar riff. Siena’s eyes begin to wander the stage, identifying many pieces and players, only to have her eyes fall upon the keyboard player. Long hair, in tune with his band, the keyboardist looks ominously familiar. It’s Alfredo. She continues to float as if a cloud, but seemingly invisible to all. But for some reason, Alfredo’s eyes, softly chasing her, are following her movement and the song that he is performing has lyrics almost designed for the moment. Talking about days of old, magical castles (or villas), the old West, and thread thru the song are a magical love he had, but could never consummate. Always just outside his reach, never to be touched. His song reflects his passion and dream and how it would have been the most perfect love, though he knows it’s a mere dream. Siena listens attentively and with the other music, she begins to feel his emotion, but it is only manifest in his music. She draws nearer to him, but as tangible as a cloud, she cannot touch him. She is in love, but understands such love will be limited to the ethereal. With music in her heart, and visions of Alfredo, she floats off into the sky. (Great gig in the sky)
Amidst the clouds, she begins to reflect within the overall dream. She sees Alfredo in many periods, filled with song and lyrics, which replay in her heart and mind. She starts to trip out and moving through colors in her mind. Siena is traveling the world, above it. She closes her eyes and sees a little African child singing a piece, which includes the common riff that she had heard times before through Alfredo’s voice and piano. She becomes overwhelmed, and tired. She closes her eyes and drifts into a deep sleep.
Moments later, she is awaken on the train, by the sound of a violin, being played rows ahead of her. The song is the same one she has heard throughout her trance. She walks forward to the row where the sound is. There is a vinyl being spun on a Victrola. No one is sitting next to it. But resting alongside, there is a letter addressed to Siena. A bit confused, and sleepy eyed, she sits next to the player, and opens the letter. It is a nice welcome letter from the church she is going to perform at. It is signed by director of the choir, its organist, whose name is Alfredo.