Illuminated Hymn

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.

Hymn for the Standing Buddhas of Bamiyan

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:

Buddha Blues

Go to Canonic VariationGo to Canonic Variation by Dillon Ford

Go to Cawal Flute, String, & Percussion VariationGo to Cawal Flute, String, & Percussion Variation by Kevin Marshall

Go to Guitar VariationsGo to Guitar Variations by Mark Shippy

Go to Orchestral VariationGo to Orchestral Variation by Sean Damon

Go to Orchestral Variation by Edward GoldGo to Orchestral Variation by Edward Gold

Go to Pure Land PastoraleGo to "Pure Land Pastorale" Variation by Dillon Ford

Go to Sleeping BuddhaGo to "Sleeping Buddha" Variation by Dillon Ford

Go to Variation for Voice and Guitar by David SolomonsGo to Variation for Voice and Guitar by David Solomons

Go to Woodwind Quintet Variation by Jean ChatillonGo to Woodwind Quintet Variation by Jean Chatillon

Return to Control Panel Return to Control Panel

Last updated August 24, 2006
WebMaster: New Music Classics Administrator,
© Copyright 2001 by Joseph Dillon Ford