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'Kanashibari', the Japanese term for sleep paralysis, will be performed by Southbank Sinfonia on Thursday 26 September at St John's, Waterloo as part of the ensemble's 'Rush Hour' series at 6pm. 

Sleep paralysis is an incredibly fascinating phenomenon when one temporarily experiences an inability to move when either falling asleep or awaking. This happens when the sleep cycles become out-of-sync with each other and the brain essentially awakes before the body. It is often associated with very real-like visions and hallucinations, such as an intruder in the room or clothes on the floor coming to life, to which one is unable to react due to paralysis. I have been wanting to base a piece on sleep for a while, as it is something to which we can all relate, affecting our everyday lives for the positive or negative whether or not we are aware of it. I found it interesting that most automatically associate sleep with being calm and restful, when in fact it is often a disturbed experience for many of us. Sleep paralysis most certainly is not a restful experience, usually occurring during periods of intense stress.

The piece depicts an episode of sleep paralysis. The music is mostly energetic to illustrate the extremely heightened experience. In contrast, the opening is still and soothing as though one is falling asleep. It gradually becomes more frenetic to illustrate the sleep cycles becoming out-of-sync. The middle-most section portrays hallucinatory visions of simple everyday items around the bedroom coming to life; creating a curious fantasy dream world, which comes to a sudden halt as the cycles eventually snap back together before waking.

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