Pralaya

Evan Williams
Early Advanced
12 min
With live electronics and video

​“Pralaya” is a Hindu term meaning “dissolution.” It is often seen as the Hindu philosophy of the end of the world, but is more related to cycles of life and destruction. Through music and video, Pralaya explores the destruction of life by humans. The work is divided into four continuous movements:

I. Introduction – “Now I am Become Death”
In a 1965 interview about the creation and use of the atomic bomb, a clearly emotional Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer reflects on his thoughts following a successful test in 1945. He quotes Vishnu saying, “ ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.”

Footage of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima is seen alongside this interview.

II. Naimittika – Destruction
Scenes of human destruction — warfare, violence, and pollution — are accompanied by a violent melody based on the Hindustani Todi raga.

III. Passacaglia for the Dissolution of All Things
The aftermaths of various destructions, including Hiroshima and the Gulf of Mexico are seen, accompanied by a mournful passacaglia.

IV. Hymn to the World Without End
A hopeful chaconne (based on the opening bars of Gustav Mahler’s “Urlicht” [“Primal Light”]) accompanies beautiful scenes of nature and the aurora borealis. While this movement expresses hope for the Earth, it is a reflection on a quote by celebrated astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who said of climate change “Earth will survive this. People say ‘Save the earth.’ No, don’t worry about earth. Earth will be here long after we render ourselves extinct.”

Pralaya was written for Brendan Jacklin.

Pralaya employs stock video footage, along with archival and news videos and images used under fair use. The work also employs audio from freesound.org (attribution: xserra)

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