On 8 March 2001 at 1:15 local time in Afghanistan's Bamiyan Province, the Taliban demolished by explosion the world's two largest statues of the standing Buddha. These priceless antiquities, measuring 53 and 35 meters in height, had been carved into a sandstone cliff in the Hindu Kush mountains of central Afghanistan some 1600 to 1700 years before. Both images had already been subjected to antiaircraft and tank fire before holes were drilled in their torsos and filled with dynamite. All appeals by the international community to save these sacred art treasures from destruction fell on deaf ears, as the Taliban relentlessly carried out their plan to rid Afghanistan of "idols" they considered offensive to Islam.
This savage act perpetrated by Muslim extremists, however grievous its consequences for all lovers of art and culture, was, in the end, merely symbolic. In their misguided zeal to establish a pure Islamic state, the Taliban produced only ugliness and demonstrated a degree of religious intolerance that shocked and repulsed both their countrymen and the world. But the gentle spirit of Buddha--the Indian prince who renounced all earthly possessions in his great quest for understanding and enlightenment--has by no means been diminished by this tragic perversion of spirituality.
On 21 May 2001, Joseph Dillon Ford composed the "Hymn for the Standing Buddhas of Bamiyan". It was intended from the beginning to be the germinal seed of a nonsectarian project requiring the voluntary participation of composers throughout the world, each of whom is invited to create a variation on this simple nineteen-measure pentatonic theme.
The basic concept behind the project is simple: Each time a computer-user accesses and listens to either the theme or any variation of the hymn, the computer in question becomes a component of a global sound-sculpture. What is more, each time the hymn or one of its variations is performed somewhere in the world, the sculpture assumes a new form. Thus, Hymn for the Standing Buddhas of Bamiyan is a living work of art, an organic testament to the beauty and freedom of the human spirit as it unfolds in wisdom and understanding.
All variations composed thus far can be heard by scrolling to the bottom of this web page and selecting any of the links listed.
If you wish to take part in this project, which has no designated deadline and will unfold without regard to conventional measurements of time, then kindly observe the following instructions:
This variation on the "Hymn for the Standing Buddhas of Bamiyan" is one of many parts of a musical sound sculpture of global scale intended to commemorate and sustain the significance of the Standing Buddhas of Bamiyan, Afghanistan, destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. For the history of this sculpture, and to see and hear its other parts, please visit the following:
Be sure to include your name, e-mail address, and any additional contact information you would like to provide (e.g., mailing address, telephone number, etc.)Your URL will appear as a link in an alphabetical list of all musical contributions to this project at the New Music Classics web site. Visitors to the page containing this list will be free to access all contributions in any order, as each variation constitutes a different aspect of the sound sculpture. We look forward to your taking part in this truly worldwide creative project.