Peace FAQ

What is Peace?

Peace is a 5-hour album of solo vibraphone music that I recorded as I played it for my father during the last 7 weeks of his life, while he was in hospice care, mainly at home.

How was Peace made?

I played and recorded this music for my father while he was going through extraordinarily difficult times in the final weeks of his life. He had spent a week in the ICU, during which the doctors said he would not make it out alive. From there he was sent to a hospice inpatient center, only to then recover enough to be sent home, under home hospice care, where he lived another 7 weeks.

Throughout this time, sleep was extremely difficult for him – he had been dealing with insomnia for years, and it was only getting worse. Especially when he came home. And that’s where I suspect not only was he dealing with insomnia caused by his condition (a rare blood disorder) but also PTSD as a result of everything he had gone through. He would often awaken in a panic during the night, only sleeping for an hour or two at a time. I later found out that post-ICU PTSD, called post-ICU syndrome, is a common condition.

During my father’s time in home hospice care, I started playing this music to help him calm down, relax, and go somewhere else in his mind, away from all the hardship. I would play for him for a couple hours each night when I was there, with the strong intent of helping him rest, trying my best to infuse the music with peace and love. I made CDs of the music for him. He would listen to those day and night, sometimes all night long, on a CD player we kept next to his bed.

What was your father’s reaction to the music?

It meant a great deal to him. One time, I asked him if I could record his thoughts about it. He said this: “A miracle has happened through this music. It has transformed me over and over again. It has made me stronger, made me want to live life again.”

He said he felt the music was “designed to open up patterns of thought and being” and came up with track titles for the music including “Healing Light,” “Special Day,” and “Life Without Pain.”

And he summed it up by saying “Chris’s music soothes the pain of dying.”

Who is this album for?

Anyone who wants some peace. I believe it will be especially helpful for people who are going through similar things that my father experienced.

Here are a few examples of where this music could be especially useful*

  • For anxiety or depression, especially as part of end-of-life experiences
  • For terminal agitation / restlessness at the end of life
  • As part of a palliative care strategy in general
  • For dealing with PTSD
  • For people struggling with addiction
  • During difficult and uncomfortable medical procedures
  • For those experiencing grief and loss, or other difficult emotions**
  • For journaling**
  • For meditation, low-energy yoga, or general relaxation

*I received some advice from music therapists and other medical professionals on this topic

**see the below question “If this music helps those who are dying, does it also help those affected by loss?”

Why is it 5 hours long?

The music started with three short tracks I had recorded for my mother when she was previously in the hospital, and grew from there. I visited my parents weekly from when my father was sent home from hospice until he passed. With each visit, I recorded more and more music. At first the pieces were about 7-10 minutes long, but I noticed there was a need for longer tracks. So I started trying to go for 20 minutes or longer. Something interesting happened as I played longer: the music changed, becoming more meditative, with a longer arc stretching over time.

By the time July rolled around, it amounted to five hours. At that point, my father said “you don’t need any more music!” There were actually a couple more hours of music I had recorded, but I didn’t end up putting that music onto CDs for him and it has remained un-produced to date.

Is the music on the album in a particular order?

Overall, it is in the chronological order it was played, with a couple small exceptions toward the beginning. In a way, it maps out our experience over time, with later tracks getting more and more meditative and soft as my father’s health deteriorated. My hope is that it will be helpful for others who may have similar experiences, and also easier to locate what track might be more appropriate, knowing that later tracks may be better for people who are closer to passing away.

What is the meaning of the song titles?

My father and I named the songs one day as we listened through the music. He would come up with an idea or talk about what was coming up for him as he listened, and we would get a title from there. Sometimes, he would just say the title and that was it. Other times, there was a story. During one track, which he entitled “Sky,” he related the childhood memory of a game he used to play while gazing up at the sky, naming what the clouds looked like. It was then I realized he was processing his life experiences through the music. Together, we named the collection “Peace.” He even had a chance to see the album cover before he passed, thanks to my amazing friend, designer Stacy Mar.

Are you playing this music live?

Yes! With the caveat that all of this music was improvised, so it will never be quite the same every time. But I will be playing very similar music in solo live stream performances all summer 2020 and beyond.

Will you play for our hospital/hospice/nursing home/other health care organization?

Yes! I am seeking out hospitals, hospice centers, and others for live stream performances for patients and health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope to be able to reach people who are especially in need of some calming during this tense time.

Before the pandemic hit, I was in the process of setting up a nation-wide tour with stops at hospitals, hospice centers, and more. Now I am trying to do as much as I can online via live streams and video chat.

If you are a medical professional interested in this type of performance, or would like to try to connect me somewhere, please contact me directly here.

If you would like to donate toward the Peace Project’s live stream program, please visit the Inner Arts Initiative site and donate directly there.

Will this album be on streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music, etc)

Currently there are no plans to release the full album on streaming services. However, the track Healing Love can be found there, and possibly there may be another track added soon.

If this music helps those who are dying, does it also help those affected by loss?

Absolutely. It’s music that can hold vigil at the end of life, and I believe because it was made in that context, it is also well-suited to help process the trauma of those experiences.

It actually worked well for me in this way. In the year after my father passed, I spent hours and hours mixing and finalizing the production of the music. During this time, I couldn’t write music – I was totally unable. When it came to do the final bounce down of this album, while listening to the music, I spent all five hours journaling, processing layers of grief. I was amazed what came out of it. So far, I have written five songs based on that writing. It helped me get through some difficult feelings, to be able to express myself again.

How is the Peace project working to counteract systemic racism?

In light of the horrific racist past and present of the U.S. and colonial powers, as well as the particularly adverse affects of racial trauma on the mental health of African-Americans, I will be donating a portion of the proceeds from Peace sales to The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, helping to increase access to mental health services in the African-American community.

As things progress I will continue to seek out more ways that this project can be of service to the systemic changes needed to achieve true equality and justice in our society. If any ideas come to mind on this front, please be in contact.

Something unique happens to me when I hear this music. Why?

I’m not sure why, but ever since this experience playing for my father, my solo playing has often had a transportive quality, wherein I myself experience visions and a dream-like inner state, especially seeing faces and places I haven’t seen before. Listeners have told me they have also experienced something like this at times, especially during live performances I’ve done. Music has powers that are still mysterious and wonderful. I believe it is healing. I’ve started calling my solo playing “sound journeys.” Whatever it is, I hope it helps others and I believe that’s what it’s supposed to do, whether or not the process is understandable to the rational mind.

Where can I hear Peace?

On the album page, you will find a Bandcamp player as well as links to order the CD or to the digital download.

Will you answer other questions?

Yes! Feel free to write a question in the comments below.

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