Finrod/Sauron Song Battle

Phillip Menzies

Moderator
Staff member
The song battle between Finrod and Sauron is going to be one of the most complex pieces of music for this season (maybe for the entire show) and I would like to step in early to begin getting some ideas and examples of how this type of music has been done in the past.
 

Ilana Mushin

Active Member
More courage to you Phil. That’s going to be a mighty composition! (But I loved your oath of Feanor so I trust you can do it).

There must be Operas where the main clash between protagonist and anagonist is written as a duet. Verdi’s operas are full of empassioned duets like this one from Il Trovatore :
or this one between Iago and Othello

I’m not suggesting the style should be Verdi but I think the song battle should have epic opera tones rather than musical theatre. Love the counterpoint idea.
 

Phillip Menzies

Moderator
Staff member
More courage to you Phil. That’s going to be a mighty composition! (But I loved your oath of Feanor so I trust you can do it).

There must be Operas where the main clash between protagonist and anagonist is written as a duet. Verdi’s operas are full of empassioned duets like this one from Il Trovatore :
or this one between Iago and Othello

I’m not suggesting the style should be Verdi but I think the song battle should have epic opera tones rather than musical theatre. Love the counterpoint idea.
Thank you Ilana. These are exactly the types of suggestions I am looking for. I don't have so good a knowledge of opera.
 

Ilana Mushin

Active Member
Perhaps baroque opera? Monteverdi’s operas are awesome. Handel too. I like the idea of Finrod singing in a baroque style. I’d have him as the baritone and Sauron as the tenor.
 

Phillip Menzies

Moderator
Staff member
When I first started to look at counterpoint the suggestions were like this from Les Miserable
but I prefer this one from the same musical which is more in the same vein, two rivals pitted against each other with the balance in the song changing from one to the other as they strive for dominance.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
The Confrontation from Les Mis is my first association with this kind of counterpoint duel, and I love that you've used the 10th anniversary recording :) Naturally, the pause in the song is the physical confrontation. So, yes, I definitely think that's a good starting point! And what little I know of Baroque music is relevant, too.

As another, slightly less to the point example, there is 'The Point of No Return' in Phantom of the Opera. This example has...layers. Christine and the Phantom are performing the opera, written by the Phantom, about Don Juan. So, naturally, they are playing the parts of lovers in the early part of the song...but it's an act. As the song goes on, and Christine realizes that the Phantom is definitely not acting...she takes further actions to reveal him to the world, first by removing his hood, then his mask. She knows his voice intimately, so it's not like she didn't know it was him all along, but she is willing to go along with it until he forces her hands (so to speak). They are struggling for control in this song, though, so that's the aspect I thought relevant to the current project.


There are plenty of examples of 'rap battles', which is what this seems very analogous to, but I don't think much if anything of the musical style should be borrowed from that. I mean, I suppose your music could have a back beat if you wanted it to, but that's hardly what is necessary to convey a duel like this. Something of the energy of this, I suppose. Mostly because this is the closest thing in modern times to flyting, and flyting is definitely what the duel between Sauron and Finrod is all about.

Still, if examples are wanted....

The rap battles from the end of 8 Mile: (serious language warning - obviously)

A more loosely-based-on-a-rap-battle scene from Hamilton: (mild language warning)

Here are some modern attempts at flyting. Not terribly accurate/authentic or anything, but I figure that some flyting should go in the basket of 'what should this sound like?' even if it's not the main ingredient.

And, uh, yes, I do have friends who have written and performed the duel in question as a rap battle, so I am maybe slightly biased in considering this a valid style to represent the 'duel of words', but I recognize that this style would be not at all appropriate to Silm Film.

An example of flyting from a Marvel fanfic set in Asgard:
"The challenge is mine!" Thor was protesting. Dovran was struggling up to his feet, and Thor wheeled on him, looking like he was ready to knock him down all over again, but Loki caught him by the arm more tightly.

"You'd leave him in no condition to fight, brother," he said. "I wouldn't want there to be any suggestion of unfair advantage."

"With worse hurts than these can I face you in the ring, Jotun," Dovran said, coughing, "if you do not use foul enchantments, instead of standing like a true man."

Loki laughed and said, "Thick-tongued Dovran, dung-bird and troll, digging yourself into your grave! No magic craft or cunning arts will I bear to the challenge-ring: a cold sharpened point is all Loki needs to speed a crude-witted cur on his way."

It sounded almost like poetry—nice ring to it. The crowd appreciated it, too; they didn't laugh, exactly, but approving mutters went around. Dovran purpled helplessly, opening and closing his mouth while Loki just stood there with an air of a teacher waiting patiently for a slow student. Loki dragged it out, and then just as Dovran was opening his mouth again, nodded equably and said, "Three days, then," and drew Thor back to the table.
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I knew what I was forgetting! I have a Baroque opera with an 'argument' in it in mind :D

"Hither This Way" from King Arthur by Henry Purcell

Two different groups are trying to convince the protagonist to trust them and not the other party.
"Trust not the malicious fiend...."
"Let not a moon-born elf deceive ye..."
"Hither this way, this way bend..."
"Come, follow, follow me."

Honestly, it's very faerie and I love this song. But it's more a persuasive argument with a judge than a duel between good and evil. Anyway, if you want the whole opera, it's here:
 
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Ilana Mushin

Active Member
I
I knew what I was forgetting! I have a Baroque opera with an 'argument' in it in mind :D

"Hither This Way" from King Arthur by Henry Purcell

Two different groups are trying to convince the protagonist to trust them and not the other party.
"Trust not the malicious fiend...."
"Let not a moon-born elf deceive ye..."
"Hither this way, this way bend..."
"Come, follow, follow me."

Honestly, it's very faerie and I love this song. But it's more a persuasive argument with a judge than a duel between good and evil.
I was looking for a Purcell example! Lovely! I think it would be possible to do things like counterpoint and flyting in a baroque style. It would go with the early music theme set up in season 4 with Sauron’s hurdy-gurdy
 

Ilana Mushin

Active Member
Is there a way to base Sauron’s song parts around his own theme music? Would Finrod’s song parts include music associated with Valinor? IT would be great if these themes could be modulated in some way so that they battle each other musically. (Not asking much, Phil - eh?)
 

Kathrin

Well-Known Member
The song battle between Finrod and Sauron is going to be one of the most complex pieces of music for this season (maybe for the entire show) and I would like to step in early to begin getting some ideas and examples of how this type of music has been done in the past.
Besides ofc the existing Beren & Luthien musicals, whose battles are extremely interesting in themselves (but we of course don't just wanna copy them)
The Sauron/Finrod music battle strikes me like the way their two songs interact should evoke how they use their song 'magic' (if magic you call it).
In Musicals the themes and how they're picked up on often relates to how these two ppl understand the struggle they're in, and how they view themselves and the other persons pov. Are they responding to a point of the other's but can't really understand the other? Are they simply trying to scream the other down by replacing the others melody? (Javert & Valjean from les Mis are excellent for this but so many musicals have a confrontations). And ofc the song should be a battle on that level.
But i wonder if with Sauron and Finrod there is a way to have a second layer above that, to convey how the actual music works to alter the other's music, twisting, corrupting, or resisting that influence. Sauron to feels like he would rather try to twist anothers song somehow to trap them, where morgoth tries to make the song his, wholly dominating it.

(This is all very vague brainstorming, i'm sorry xD) I have no formal music education, i've only played a little violin and that's how our orchestra conductor explained it, and idk exactly how to put it, but in music there is this way to build up tension in a sequence of notes and then resolve it in the final note of that musical 'arc', so it sounds 'good' again and the whole thing makes sense. Maybe there is a way where Sauron can try and destablise these patterns somehow? But that's ofc easy to say, and its super hard to compose something that is dissonant and weird but not so offputting nobody wants to listen to it.

You guys know the LOTRO mordor soundtrack? That one is suitably weird but also cool to listen to. But i think that balance is really difficult to strike. I really liked the orc song from last season, but i think Sauron's battlesong shouldn't only be martial and loud and "evil" it should actively take finrods song and transform it. And then on top of that come the lyrics, that's gonna be a beast of a task.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
Could there/should there be a visual element to the songs ala Scott Pilgrim vs The World? As in, What if Javert and Jean Val-Jeans song warped the world around them with light and special affects? Or it could be less of a light show and a more of a manipulation of the space. It could even be presented as happening within the world of the song? In the way Dr Strange has action within the mirror dimension and the world collapses in itself but to an onlooker/after the fact, the world appears unchanged.
 

Kathrin

Well-Known Member
Hmm, I'm a bit averse to a full on light show or sth that's very obviously & flashily an "effect" (basically, the song magic externalised as beams power / light and such. Like, it shouldn't be video gamey if you know what i mean. I love Scott Pilgrim, but there the video game genre is very purposeful, where here, we wanna lean more into the faerie direction)
I would be more in favour of it having environmental effects that seem to affect the world around them, like actual light sources 'draining', or the cell narrowing, plants growing or dying or things like that (<-- more brain storming needed, these are very basic xD) The question is also, do they stay in the cell/another place of the tower or does the song battle happen in an entirely different, sort of symbolical place? Finrod does summon images from other times and places in the words of his song, to muster hope, and Sauron then twists those.
I just got this Cave of Plato image in my mind, where the dancing shadows evoke something real, but not. It could go fevre dream really quickly, but i wonder if there could be something like that, where the natural light in the scene seems to get bent to form shadows and reflections and stuff that is not there, but without having it feel like a "vision" or a glowing apparition. More like something one could imagine in watching dancing shadows or flames or smoke but enhanced.

(Lol if i was the actual concept artist on an actual project like this i would probably have a minor breakdown getting rambly ideas sent to me like this xD. Also i guess i've just given myself my next silmfilm concept art assignment lol, but this visual discussion would belong into another thread anyway.)
 
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Rob Harding

Active Member
Love it. Sweat on their brows, veins popping, teeth gritted, showing the strain despite it not being a physical fight. Whether they open their mouths to sing or we do it as audible voices emanating from them is a possibility. Either way, it should have some kind of impact rather than just song I feel. It’s a visual medium after all. But every now and then we’d get a shot of these two just standing in a cell. And at the end, nothing has physically changed. I’m picturing environmental effects more than light shows I think. Imagine time speeding up and ruins crumbling and you can see the stars overhead as Finrod sings. Then Sauron sings and the stars go out and clouds cover the land. Finrod sings and those clouds open and rain covers the land and flowers bloom. In this symbolic competition of wills. For anyone familiar with the Sandman comics, I’m thinking of the Curazon vs Morpheus battle. Every action of one is undone by the other. Either for the sake of despair or for hope. Ending with Sauron unmaking the world and Finrod seemingly making a new one. It should invoke the Ainulindale a bit. An echo of true magic to affect the world. Because if magic is songs and songs are art, then that’s the power it holds.

This would also connect to how when Luthien sings, flowers grow. In some ways, her magic is clearly more potent as it doesn’t simply have the symbolic impact of changing people’s internal ‘worlds’, it literally shapes the world. So when she really CAN destroy a stronghold, we get how powerful she must be.
 
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kanji_d

Member
As a musical theatre fan this sort of thing is right up my alley, one of my personal favorite examples of counterpoint is "Quartet" from Chess, which has four actors arguing past each other without really listening to one another.


One thing I really want to see happen here is to have (somewhat as in the Ainulindale!) Finrod take Sauron's themes and bring them into his own, as the Ainur take Melkor's themes and bring them into the greater themes of Iluvatar.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Ending with Sauron unmaking the world and Finrod seemingly making a new one.
Are you sure about the last one? Finrod loses this fight and is unmasked. The making of a new world is exactly what seems beyond the power of the elves. Elves are about protecting, restoring and enhancing the current world. Their hope is in the past, not in the future. This last part seems actually a gift of the humans - the hope of the world to come, the new world remade - not that of the elves. But Finrod's failure here might make understandable why Luthien's chooses the hope of the humans over her own.
 
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Rob Harding

Active Member
I think it’s more symbolically for the audience to see Sauron creating ultimate destruction but Finrod trying to bring something out of it. Only for Sauron to consume it in darkness as he kills Finrod.
 
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