JCCC Honors Journal


The paper is a review of “Unaccompanied Sonata” a short story published in Maps in a Mirror by Orson Scott Card. It served as the inspiration for an original musical composition with the same title. “Unaccompanied Sonata,” centers on Christian, a musical prodigy in a dystopian society. In a controlled world where everything and everyone has their place, Christian’s great love of music leads him to break the structured bonds holding his society together. The musical project took shape slowly after days of tossing ideas around. In the end, it became a reflection of my own personal journey throughout the several weeks it took to compose. Unaccompanied Sonata,” is, at its most basic level, a reproduction of the plot of the like-titled short story. Listened to once, “Unaccompanied Sonata” is pleasing to the ear. Listened to again, as a companion to the story, there is an intense interplay of hope and despair, resistance and surrender, longing and desire that is intended to evoke a very real and personal response from the listener.

Author statement on musical piece:

"Unaccompanied Sonata," Orson Scott Card's short story of a musician caught in the machinery of a complex dystopian society, inspired me to compose an original musical piece in classical sonata form. Though I used the story as a model, what I created became much more than a simple reconstruction of the narrative in melodic form: the music took me on an unexpected journey of creative self-discovery. The result was an intensely personal reckoning that parallels the struggle and eventual catharsis of Card's central character. Both the sonata and my prose analysis of the writing process come together to form the musical and literary exploration I named after its inspiration, “Unaccompanied Sonata.”

Alexandra Gustafson Honors Contract music file.m4a (5325 kB)
"Unaccompanied Sonata" - original musical composition by Alexandra Gustafson