The Search for Harmony is a new web-based game about the rich—and neglected—historical legacy of classical musicians of African descent. The game will be released alongside the documentary film Sonata Mulattica, and will be a key component of the film’s outreach and engagement with underserved youth and communities around the country.
In The Search for Harmony, players help a creature named Maestro look for his lost friend, Harmony, who has accidentally time-jumped into one of the game’s many disconnected worlds. Each world is based in a unique moment of music history, and the only way to travel between them is by rebuilding mythical bridges made of musical scores. Parts for each score are scattered and hidden, and it’s up to the player to explore each world, look for clues, rebuild the bridges and find Harmony.
Through the gaming experience, players will understand vital multicultural influences on classical music, learn rudimentary composition concepts and discover the expressive power of music. Themed levels range from the experience of George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower, an Afro European violinist whose story is virtually unknown despite an astounding virtuosity that enthralled eighteenth and early nineteenth century nobility, to other classical musicians of African descent: the Chevalier de Saint Georges (also known as the “Black Mozart”), Samuel Coleridge Taylor (the “African Mahler”) and “the Dean” of African-American composers William Grant Still.
A mobile-accessible approach to game design provides us a point of contact to share classical music with youth, especially in low-income communities. It’s a way for kids to interact with history, as well as experiment with the fundamentals of music composition organically, without instruction. The Search for Harmony aims to bridge a divide between disparate cultures and allow everyone an opportunity to realize that multicultural contributions have shaped music throughout history—a truth only occasionally given footnote status, and in most cases completely omitted from mainstream history texts and other resources. This kind of education is particularly critical today, especially with decreased funding for artistic and music programs across the United States.
With support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Search for Harmony is currently in its prototype phase.
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