Michael ScaffidiMichael Scaffidi is a medical student in the Class of 2022 at Queen’s University


Listen to the Michael’s composition here: https://open.spotify.com/album/2arp3Jqp1ksVuovmRE3KA0, and read about it below.

“This is a piece that I wrote for the 2nd Annual Jacalyn Health and Humanities Conference at Queen’s University and decided to later publish. “Sonata in C, Journey Through the Valley” tells a story of what a patient experiences when given a serious diagnosis. Specifically, I strove to show how disruptive this event can be through the use of a highly dissonant “diminished chord”. In addition, in contrast to the peaceful, almost indolent first theme using triplets, the second theme uses the infamous theme of “Dies Irae” (Day of Wrath), which is derived from a Latin hymn that is often used throughout classical and film music to signpost death or an ominous event.

This theme, however, is transformed in the latter half of the work. Instead of being presented in its usual minor key, it is transposed into the more uplifting, more hopeful major key of the piece — C major. Indeed, this is meant to reference the title of the work,  “Journey Through the Valley”, which alludes to the famous Biblical reference of Psalm 23:4: “Even when I walk in the valley of darkness, I will fear no evil for You are with me”. This allusion highlights that even a disruptive, potentially life-threatening event, such as a serious diagnosis, does not have to be accepted at face value– that “goodness” (which can be reflective of a patient’s faith, family, friends, or all of the above) will help that person transform their journey through the valley into one which they take without fear, despite the challenges they face.”