The Helpless Song Cycle – III. Soul

(Completed November 2015. Premiered December 12th, 2015. Orchestrated January, 2017. Premiered February 15th, 2017)

(OG. sop. and pno. ORCH. fl., ob.+cor. ang, cl.+bass, bsn., hrn. vln. I, vln. II., vla., vc., cb. + solo sop.)

When “Soul” first premiered, under the title “Insanity,” I was hesitant to come forward with the full meaning of the song. So when I premiered the orchestrated version of the piece, I decided to do so with the full meaning displayed. “Soul” is the telling of three stories of mental health: Eric Harris, one of the Columbine High School shooters; James Holmes, the Aurora Theater shooter; and myself and my story of depression, the height of which I was in during the composition of this song. The song separates each story with the motive played at the beginning of the song, a minor sixth.

I tell the three stories in parallel because of their connection to the mental health of main characters While I’m aware of my mental health and willing to confront it, I have always been uncomfortable with how much I can relate to the mindset and helplessness of these atrocious people. Because of this discomfort, I wanted to shed light on how common and easily these mentalities can set in.

Listen to the next song, IV. Sexualization

Read more about The Helpless Song Cycle.


My vest hangs today
I fold the collar of my trench coat
With this, I’ll find my way
With this, I’ll stay afloat
With pride, I walk the halls
The double glances, the averted gaze
I feel my power, I feel it all
This little victory, I am amazed

I can’t believe the pain I’m in
I’ve grit my teeth for four straight years
I’m hardly ready to grit again
But here I am to face my fears
I want my former regard
But struck again by weightless weights
I can’t help but stare into the yard
And desolate future in my wake

A bed so thick it drowns me in
I used to lay for my own sin
But now I’m stale, as stale as wheat
And evening sweat drapes morning‘s seat
I force myself in dusk’s warm haze
To walk through this last month’s maze
Into the bath where I lay down
The shower runs, my conscious drowns

I can’t unclench my fist
With my comforts, they still attack
I’ve gone to the Web to take a stand
I have a following to my back
I am the two man mob
With just one warnin
“Heute ist der Tag
Sie warren nich hier wünschen.”*

I fought it, I did it, I failed
Four straight months of struggle
I find no solace in my wails
I fight for literal survival
I am no one, just man with strife
That’s nothing new and forever true
But “if you take away a live,
It adds to your own value.”**

The drops against my skin grow numb
My thoughts, in steam like a smoking gun
I rise and scold my skin to sear
Yet not enough for the world to hear
The water off, I feel no rain
My mind turns to the world again
The numbness sears thoughts inane
“Man lives in greatest pain.”***

To live
Is meek
To kill
Is sweet

The task
Is set
To pay
My debt

In here
So mere
Not near
No fear

I lay on the ground

I sit in a cell

I‘m somewhere around

I’m a living hell  I’m a living hell  I’m a living hell

* "Today is the day you wish you weren’t here.” – A message displayed in German to the students of Columbine High School over the announcements the day of the shooting by the shooters.
** A quote of James Holmes’ during his psychological analysis before his trial.
*** Quote from Gustav Mahler, the composer’s mental state I most relate to.