To Shiver the Sky is the album we need in 2020 and here’s why

My kickstarter rewards for To Shiver the Sky arrived so I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to talk about Christopher Tin’s new album and why I think it could not have been released at a better time.

To Shiver the Sky the album

To Shiver the Sky is the third studio album of composer Christopher Tin. It was the highest funded classical Kickstarter ever in 2018, a title worthy of holding given the anticipation of a new studio album about man’s dream to fly, with the epic opening of Civilisation VI, Sogno di Volare (the dream of flight) as its opening song.

Note that the last time Christopher Tin composed the opening for a Civ game (Baba Yetu) this song was the first Video Game soundtrack that won a Grammy and the subsequent album, Calling all Dawns also received one for best classical crossover album. So anticipations were high.

Kickstarters end

The album was officially released on August 21 2020 and I daresay that it is exactly what we need this year. Amongst other disasters we are facing a global pandemic that is causing difficulties for all of us. Difficulties that are, in my opinion, questioning on a fundamental level what we are doing with our lives and our planet. And though we might have the luxury of modern technologies which make distant interaction easier we are restricted in the way we handle social interactions because of physical distancing.

“So what has this to do with the recently released To Shiver the Sky?” I hear you ask. Well, just about everything.

Track Overview

If you are not familiar with the album I have made a short overview below of the tracks, their narrative sources and what I think the music relates to on an emotional level.

If you have listened to the album with an open mind and heart I think the column to the right speaks for it self. But music is deeply personal so it is totally fine if you do not agree with me.

If you have not listened to the album it I highly encourage you to do so. Block an hour and listen with an open heart, and do not be afraid to feel something. If you want to get a quick overview of the thematic I also posted the album trailer below.

Again: I have listed the track and their sources here so you can see where the inspiration for these came from. In the column to the right you’ll find what I think it relates to on an emotional level after listening the past weeks. So chances are I might revise or refine some in the future.

Track/Movement-TitleBased onRelates to
1 Sogno Di VolareLeonardo Da Vinci’s writings on flightPeople’s (unspoken) wishes to achieve something in their lives
2 The Heavenly KingdomHildegard von Bingen: SciviasAspiration to reach the divine, the heavenly skies
3 Daedelus and IcarusOvid: MetamorphosesTo execute on your bold plan but with the warning not to over extend yourself
4 The FallDante Alighierei: Divine ComedyWhen we fall to our lowest and somehow find the courage to pick ourselves up again
5 AstronomyNicolaus Copernicus: De revolutionibius Orbium CoelestiumWhat it feels like to reach new hights and be astonished by the (new) possibilities
6 To the StarsJules Verne: De la Terre a la LuneCreating/achieving with the tools at hand
7 Oh The HumanityFerdinand von Zeppelin speechesIf corruption or an external power takes your dream to a low point, will you follow it again
8 CourageAmelia Earhart: CourageHave faith that we can achieve what we set out to do
9 Become Death
Bhagavad Gita, quoted by Robert Oppenheimer
The landscape we are able to create and destroy via our technology
10 The Power of SpiritYuri Gargarin quotesResilience of us humans to carry on
11 We Choose to go to the MoonJohn F. Kennedy: Address at Rice University on the Nation’s Space EffortTo speak your heart’s wish aloud to gather others behind your cause

My thoughts on it now

As mentioned before these are difficult times for many of us. And while it may take a while to find the new norm, I think this album encapsulates a few of the basic questions and emotions people are struggling with a bit more then usual.

If I were to pick one of the tracks which represents our species right now I would pick The Power of Spirit. While we are facing one of the largest health crises of our short existence amazing things have also happened this year. The two vessels that have been launched to Mars may be the most contradicting thing we will remember about 2020. And to me that is a heartwarming thought. In a year full of metaphorical darkness we still were able to execute on our power to achieve our dreams.

To me, the dream of flight is an allegory of our deepest wishes to be important to someone else. And while we may not know who this person will be, we can not give up. I will not give up. Because it is clear to me that I have a part to play. Be it via my little soapbox here or via my book when it is finished, I do not know. But I choose to aim for the stars. When I have to land on the moon with no option to travel further I know that I have come a long way with my dream of flight and that I have shivered the sky.

Heart’s Fire

Hello friend and all the best for 2020. I hope you’ve started the year in good spirits. I certainly did. So it’s January and we’re sharing new years resolutions again for a couple of weeks. In my experience this is like singing an “I want song”. Fun while it lasts, but mostly forgettable. This is why I’m very confident about my year theme.

Year Theme

For the last 3 years I had positive experiences with using a year theme. A year theme is a word or short sentence on a subject or part of your life that you want to improve something in*. Last year my theme was “Future Fit” and it was in the area of physical and mental health.

What a theme does is empowers your decisions in the specific area that you choose. It is important that you specify for yourself what the theme means for you. Last year the theme meant making powerful decisions about the way I spend my time, money and energy so that I can make progress in the area that I concentrate on this year: work.

I’ve mentioned earlier that I want to work towards a situation where I can spend my time working on/creating stories (worlds).

Looking back on last year I can now see that I’ve made some decisions that 1: influenced my energy (food, my relation to sleep, sport) and 2 influenced my mindset (how I look at time spend, cleaning and organising papers etc).

This year my theme is Hearts fire (in Dutch: Hartenvuur). The metaphor for fire is chosen deliberately. I have written down a couple of accompanying sentences which are my guiding principles for the year when making decisions. 

  1. Give it air/make it breathe. I want to make sure I have the time (or create it) to work on the things I love in a relaxed way.
  2. Give it fuel/make it burn. Have the focus on the things I love so I can nurture and grow my passion.**
  3. Give it attention. Give it the attention it requires so it releases positive energy back and lights the path so I can make more informed decisions.

Into action

With this as a starting point I feel ready for the year. I’m already working on number 1 of the guiding principles so things are in motion***. I’ve also noticed that (as a result of this) my book is itching in the back of my mind. I want to continue working on it and my goal is to have a first draft completed by March/April. 

There is theme and there is a plan which is more ingrained into me than any I want song. I’m doing it! 

P.s. Let me know if you want to also create a year theme to help you in 2020 improve some area in your life but don’t know how. Visit my contacts page message me on the socials.

* I choose from one of four area’s which research has shown that are an indication of a person’s happiness: 1. Mental and physical health; 2. Relationships; 3. Work; 4. Money. My source are David de Kock and Arjan Vergeer of 365 Dagen Succesvol; a Dutch company working to help people improve their happiness. These guys have read large piles of literature and found these four areas to be common. I know there are multiple other theories who divide it in different categories, but I like this one because it is simple with a lot of depth.

** Here are link 1 and link 2 with some information and inspiration.

*** One of the things I’m doing is cleaning and organising my work space at home so it feels more comfortable to sit there.