I am grateful for CWO-5 DeGuisto's willingness to listen to Disarming The Tempest with me and to share some very personal thoughts about his reaction. As we listened on my stereo I was both nervous and excited, as I always am when I put new works forth. I prefaced the listening session with only the information regarding the four spoken phrases that were used both as speech in orchestral players' parts and to generate melodic material based on the pitch contour of each:
1) SO good to see you!
2) We're SO glad you made it home alive!
3) (warrior's response) Thank you. Thank you very much
4) Did you kill anyone?
This was all the seasoned Army Blackhawk Helicopter Pilot was given, and that he would hear it in different ways passed through the orchestra. Much to my surprise, he turned to me in the middle of the A - section and pointedly asked, "Is this a fire fight?" I answered, "It's the memory of a fire fight, yes...it's supposed to be triggered by hearing all these civilians' comments once the warrior is back in civilian life."
Eddie continued listening, sitting forward on my couch, elbows on knees, facing the speakers and listening stoically. I really didn't have any idea what he was thinking. When the piece was over he began to speak of memories it brought to the surface. He had done his share of medivac missions for wounded grunts in Iraq. As he spoke of what "they," the grunts on the ground, went through he choked up and was overcome with emotion. Being the jovial, prior enlisted Marine that he is, he shook it off reasonably quickly and began to offer ideas of how he thought this piece needed to be offered, to include acting or dance in order to conjur accurate imagery for civilians.
On October 1, 2013 Eddie deployed with his unit to The Middle East. This, the final deployment of his career, will take him through August 2014. Before he left he sent me this response to Disarming The Tempest, for which I am deeply grateful.
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The first time I listened to this Disarming The Tempest it took me back four years to when I came home from Iraq. It triggered a release of all the emotions I had back then. There was the feeling of jubilation of being back in the U.S. mixed with the apprehension of an unknown future. There were all these thoughts and memories running through my head. As the piece progressed it brought memories and emotions that had been in the recesses of my mind right to the forefront. It overcame me like a rush of water. The music evoked images of the environment and the terrain of where I had been. It resurrected the feeling of uncertainty I had when encountering both people I knew well and casual acquaintances. They would ask, “What was it like?” I could have spoken to them for hours telling them stories but I realized they really didn’t want to take the time to listen. They wanted short answers that were like bullets. If I started to really talk about Iraq their eyes would glaze over. That was so frustrating.
By the time the piece finished the emotion welled up in me to the point where it just flowed over the edges and had to be released. I felt that this music deserved to accompany a form of action or dance to bring the images in my mind to life so others could see what I see.
I have since listened to this piece a few more times. Knowing what to expect, I can still visualize the images and experience the emotion but am able to control the flow of emotion, which is a good thing. I think more people should be introduced to this piece of music. It would help people understand the emotion connected to serving our country in a combat zone.
-- CWO-5 Edward C DeGuisto, 42nd CAB, HHC, US Army