Music published for Season 5

Phillip Menzies

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Now that I have got the Oath of Feanor published I can start to get some new pieces of music up. this first one was a commission from the hosts in Session 5.01 where they asked me to do something for the sorrow of the Eldar what with the Dagor Bragolach coming up this season. I have just published it on YouTube and my notes below speak about the significance of this piece in my development of the Ainulindale.

This is a significant piece in my development of SilmFilm music and was a commission from the hosts in session 5.01. With the Dagor Bragolach in this season it is the beginning of the downfall of the elves in Beleriand and the sorrow that follows, although this is written to encompass any future sorrow that the elves will experience. The true significance is that this piece, the Sorrow of the Eldar and another piece the Grief of Men (coming soon) will combine to for the third theme for the Ainulindale thus moving my development of my musical interpretation of the Ainulindale one step closer. I plan to finalise the third theme for season VI when Luthien dances for Mandos to free Beren from his halls.

Musically is made up of slow descending chords. At the beginning you will hear the now familiar three note chime representing the call of the elves being played this time by the marimba. We also hear throughout the addition of Nienna’s theme played by the clarinet. This does not dominate and drops away when the choir comes in representing the Children of Iluvatar’s many sorrowful voices for the music of the third theme came from the Children of Iluvatar, not from any of the ainur. As the piece nears its end, the contrabass adds an element of discord, adding to the tragedy and wrongness of elves losing their lives and the final chord leaves the whole piece unresolved.

My thanks to the artist contributions for this video, the details being in the notes on YouTube.

 

Phillip Menzies

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The Death of Beor/The Gift of Iluvatar

This piece was formerly released under the title Strange Gift. It is set at the scene depicting the Death of Beor but it highlights three separate themes, the Grief of Men, The Good Life and The Gift of Iluvatar. I have used Tolkien’s text to demonstrate what pictures could not. The scene imagined by SilmFilm includes a discussion between Finrod and Adanel but a random artist impression of Adanel would not have gotten across the ideas as the text and artwork does.

The first theme “The Grief of Men” is a melody written by Karita Alexander called “Strange Gift” and is associated with a race of humans who are given a gift of eternal life with the price being that they will no longer bear children. I felt that this deep sadness illustrates the sadness that is experienced when humans die and have renamed it. When I was putting this piece of music together, I found myself being drawn into a lighter and happier piece which I have called “The Good Life” and will be played in the scene as Beor and Finrod reminisce about Beor’s life, but can be used equally for any normal human existence in peace and contentment. The final theme came as a counterpoint to the original melody and has an air of mystery to it but rises to something glorious. Those astute listeners will recognise the Gift of Iluvatar as the theme that plays at The Waking of Men at the Rising of the Sun as this new gift of life is bestowed upon humans. The Gift of Iluvatar and the Grief of Men are then played together to show that the Gift is tinged with sadness. This will be the conversation with Adanel. Iluvatar’s Note played continuously by the violins plays from the entry of The Gift of Iluvatar theme to the very end of the piece. It is joined towards the end by the harp plucking the note, reminiscent of the Girdle of Melian theme and as all other instruments fade, Iluvatar’s Note stands alone at the end.

The artwork is a combination of the scene at Beor’s deathbed and the content of the conversations. Although some of the scenes are not from Tolkien’s world, they depict the ideas of what The Good Life means to humans and what the Gift of Life means finishing with the mystery of our final fate. Artist details are in the YouTube notes.
 

Phillip Menzies

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I was right in the middle of composing the House of Haleth theme and thinking about the stockade battle when I got sidetracked on this one. Boldog is a major character and I have not done anything for orcs yet. So Here is something for both Boldog and his orc armies.
BOLDOG LEADER OF ORCS
An original piece of music for the Silmarillion Film Project podcast with the Tolkien Professor. Boldog is an orc general from the Lay of Leithian. SilmFilm has taken this minor character and include him in this theoretical adaptation. Bolog is a maiar spirit in the service of Morgoth that inhabits the body of an orc. Boldog is given his own theme one of few individuals who are maiar spirits but inhabit a body rather than creating a body and wearing and changing it like a garment. You will hear throughout Morgoth’s triad as Boldog and orcs are his creation and are driven by his will. Astute listeners will hear the three notes usually associated with elves, but rather than a single clear pure note, it is played by clashing notes a semitone apart. The main part of the theme is three rising chords which indicate the spirit being violently squeezed into a body it was not designed to inhabit. The final playing of Boldog’s nine note theme have the notes overlapping again indicating the vuolent forcing of the spirit into a body. The text is by JRR Tolkien from the History of Middle Earth where he explores further the origins of orcs and other creatures.
 

Phillip Menzies

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Time for another #SilmFilm musical contribution, this one for the House of Haleth. I want to express a very big thank you to Kathleen Dallin who provided vocals for this piece.
Musically the theme has a constant beat representing Haleth’s implacable will with little variation in a minor key. It is vocalised in a haunting way at the start to show that there is something special about Haleth and that she is destined for greatness. Each section represents a different stage of their story, with brass leading in the orc battle as Curufin comes to the rescue to the sounding of trumpets and Timpani beating the way through Nan Dungortheb as this part of the story is akin to a forced march to get through this dangerous land. The face off against Tevildo Prince of Cats has the violins playing trills and the lower strings moving in circular motion to get across the high tension as well as the wily nature of Tevildo and his band of cats. The Forest of Brethil, their final destination has more traditional strings and flute to show an agrarian style with vocalisation again with humming and la’s, but now it has changed to a major key to indicate that the People of Haleth have finally found a place where they can be content.
My YouTube notes have details of the contributing artists.
After a late reply from a contributing artist I have made a slight change to the video with a new link. See if you can guess which image has additional restrictions on it?
 
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Phillip Menzies

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This one had me poring through the Athrabeth for appropriate quotes. I think that took the most amount of time.
Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth
The piece is a conversation between Finrod Felagund and Andreth a Wise Woman of the House of Beor who loved Finrod’s brother Aegnor. Aegnor had broken off the relationship because elves do not marry and raise children in times of war. The conversation also discussed the mortality of Men and proposed what may be the eventual fate of the fëa (spirit) of Men after death. The piece of music is meant to show the differences between Human and Elf cultures and how each race looks at the world and the part they play.

The elven piece is in Lydian mode and begins with the rising progression of major (F), major (G), minor (Am) chords and then back down. It goes up again and then the continues with the Lydian scale to rest on F major. The feeling is unsettling and unresolved.

The human part is Ionian and based on the same progressions, but resolving going, major (F), major (G) and resolving on the dominant major (C major) instead of hanging on A minor. The progression up the scale takes some shortcuts with the base notes and chords making it sound more natural.

The opening is quite harsh as the flute (human) and the oboe (elf) play over each other and the characters Andreth and Finrod are introduced. The Elvish part is slow (Largo) and features synthesiser with a lovely delay. Elves have all of the time in the world as decisions come slowly. The now familiar Elvish repetition of three notes (representing the three kindreds) is played regularly throughout. When the human voice is introduced, it is a rapid violin playing the notes I-V repeating the first two notes of the human themes, specifically the grief of Men representing death (human is saying to the elf “that is fine, except for death, death, death”). The rapidly played strings continue with a new melody showing the rapid life and experience of Men and the need to get things done.

The final section plays the rising scale of both melodies, the elf has to speed up to keep pace. They are more in step now with less clashing, but there is still an underlying state of dissonance that comes through with the synthesiser. The penultimate note (F major chord) hangs, but is finally resolved with the dominant (C major) as the world will eventually be given over to Men while the Elves fade.
 
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Phillip Menzies

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I have just published a new tune, The House of Hador a suitably heroic piece for the house that spawned most of the human heroes in the first age. After coming to the conclusion in the Creative Commissions sessions that the culture of this house in Dor-lomin was just like the Rohirrim without the horses, Nick and Corey in their discussion decided that horse riding was in fact a large part of their culture so I have included a beat that sounds not unlike two empty halves of coconuts being banged together. I have quoted from the Silmarillion and the Children of Hurin and paraphrased some of the elements of the episode S5 E6 by including the rescue of Rhogrin from Angband.
 

Phillip Menzies

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So here is my next SilmFilm tune, the House of Beor. I have themes for all three houses now. I have not done the whole virtual orchestra treatment for this one yet. I may get to that after the music session. Still such a lot to compose.


YouTube Notes: The music is based on The Light in the West by Tony Meade of which an acoustic demo version can be heard on his Soundcloud page https://soundcloud.com/tonymeade . A version for SilmFilm will have its premier at the Season 5 Music session later in 2021.

Beor and his people were the first humans to enter Beleriand and were discovered by the elf lord Finrod Felagund. The musical theme for this house of the Edain is based on the chord structure of The Light in the West but has the distinctive 1-5 opening notes as do all the Houses of the Edain borrowed from the musical piece The Grief of Men a part of the longer musical piece The Death of Beor. This 1-5 opening reminds listeners that Men are mortal and will always succumb to death.

The first part shows images of the people relocating to Finrod’s home Nargothrond. This is contrary to the text, but in the SilmFilm adaptation it was not just Beor who went to live with Beor, but his people accompanied him showing how humans changed with different influences. The theme has a march type quality of a people on the move. The final brass notes are downward descending as the people of Beor bow before the elves and take on the role of vassals.

The theme in Nargothrond is fancy and full of ornamentation with bright sounds including the carillon but all notes are downward descending to show the servitude. The people may seem content but this is not a positive place for them to be in.

The theme changes with the move to Ladros on the front lines of the siege of Angband and have a more pastoral feel with guitar plucking as the people get back to the lifestyle that is best for them, contributing in their own right and becoming allies of the Noldor. Flutes take up where the brass played. The Wise Woman theme is based on one motif from the Light in the West on the actual words “the light in the west” and will remind the listener of this every time it is played. It is the wisdom to seek the light in the west that inspired these people to leave their kin in the east and to travel west and lives on through women such as Adanel and Andreth.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
I have to tell you about a couple of things I love about this. In the first section, there is so much that makes me think of coming over the ridge of Ered Luin and beholding the forests and plains of Beleriand in their grandeur for the first time.

I also love the unresolved feeling that the first and second sections have, something that goes away in the third. Well done.
 

Phillip Menzies

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I have to tell you about a couple of things I love about this. In the first section, there is so much that makes me think of coming over the ridge of Ered Luin and beholding the forests and plains of Beleriand in their grandeur for the first time.

I also love the unresolved feeling that the first and second sections have, something that goes away in the third. Well done.
Wait until you see the Light in the West. That feeling of coming over the ridge of Ered Luin has a big orchestral moment.
 

Phillip Menzies

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After much work I have finally released my Nan Elmoth Suite

This is now my longest piece of music and it grew in the telling. It is more than “Of Maeglin” as I wanted to include the magic of this place that Melian instilled in it many years before Eol took up residence and rather than just including the themes for Melian, Eol and Maeglin I wanted to take the story to its Season 5 conclusion with Eol being thrown off the cliff and the planting of the bad seed that is Maeglin in the beautiful city of Gondolin. It has become a suite, showing the range of musical themes that would be present in those scenes and showcasing themes in their entirety rather than just snippets. I also thought it would be fun to play around with the idea of the birds with sound effects and have the nightingales slowly be replaced by crows.

There are three main sections or movements.
  • The forest of Nan Elmoth under Melian and her enchantment of Elwe the king of the Teleri.
  • The transformation of the forest into something malevolent under the influence of Eol the dark elf and his theme. In the middle of this is the entry of Aredhel the White Lady bringing the theme of Gondolin with her as she is ensnared on Eol’s enchantment.
  • Maeglin’s theme showing the tug-of-war between his parents. You never know how his theme is going to end, with the Gondolin theme or Eol’s theme. Even when it finishes with the Gondolin theme there is still a small reminder of Eol’s theme. The movement progresses to the flight to Goldolin, Eol’s pursuit and in the end his execution. There is a final reprise of Maeglin’s theme ending with the small reminder of Eol’s theme and in the text, idril misgivings about her cousin.

Musically the piece begins with Iluvatar’s note being played in the highest and lowest registers with violin harmonics offering an eerie feel and contrabass. There is a three-note echo of the first theme of Iluvatar’s music showing the world as it is meant to be (this also appeared in my music for the Girdle of Melian) played with bowed synthesizer giving it a depth reaching back to the dawn of time. Woodwind and harp play imitating bird calls. The first melody begins with the image of Melian, played on piccolo with reverb, imitating bird calls. Woodwind continue to play their bird calls before joining with the main melody briefly and returning to their playful calls. The chords rock back and forth from B minor to G2 before making a run down Bm, A, G2 and back to A. This G to A rocks back and forth as if the record is stuck, as Elwe comes under Melian’s enchantment and stands for hundreds of years.

The second movement goes back to Iluvatar’s note and sounds menacing with only the introduction of timpani. Synth continues to play the three opening notes from the 1st theme but another influence is warping it into something unwholesome. The underlying magic has been warped and bent to the will of the new resident of Nan Elmoth, Eol. There is a building crescendo with added brass and violin effects making the forest an unsettling place all played in 5:4 time. The story picks up with Aredhel entering the forest and becoming caught in Eol’s enchantment. Flute plays the Gondolin theme followed by an introduction of Eols theme of four notes as he spies her. His theme comes to the fore, continuing with woodwind to remind us of the birds, when he finally reveals himself at his home in the centre of the forest. Eol’s theme is a bastardisation of the chord structure of Melian’s magic rocking from B minor to G minor and imitating the crow’s call of four notes which becomes the distinguishing feature of Eol’s and later Maeglin’s theme. This section describes Eol’s character and is not dealt with chronologically as we go back to his smithing, his connections with the dwarves, his gifting of the black sword to Thingol to be allowed to live in Nan Elmoth and the way that he treats Aredhel.

The third movement introduces Maeglin’s theme, and is heavily influenced by Anakin’s theme from Star Wars Ep1 the Phantom Menace. It begins with woodwind again taken up by strings and harp with the chords giving it a cradle rocking type movement, innocent and youthful. As it rises towards a climax it has to choose, the way of Gondolin or the way of his father. The first time the Gondolin theme plays, but the harp echoes Eol’s four note theme. The second time he takes after his father and his theme end with Eol’s theme.

The final section is an amalgam of themes showing the flight from Nan Elmoth, the arrival at Gondolin and the final scene resulting in the death of Aredhel and the execution of Eol. The flight continues to use the short-bowed strings used throughout, now with an urgency, and the beginnings of various themes played by different instruments including Eol’s four note theme. The final rendition of Eol’s theme has been stripped of the forest elements and there is no beating around the bush as the 5 beat bars play relentlessly one after the other with no softening of the forest. It ends in a huge climax of full orchestra and rolling timpani as Eol meets his fate. The piece end with a reprise of Maeglin’s theme introduced by woodwind and taken up by harp only, ending with Idril’s misgivings about her cousin echoed by the last four notes, Eols’ theme.

Acknowledgement for artwork I have chosen to back the piece is included in the YouTube notes.
 
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Phillip Menzies

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Agreed. It's really fascinating how we've all been stretching this past season to produce content of higher complexity and quality than we've done so far.
I think this is partly that Corey is engaging well with the creative input. But more than that we are becoming more skilled. I look back at some of my earliest pieces and have a fierce desire to rework them. I have no time to do that. One day maybe.
 

MithLuin

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You were wise to save the Ainulindale until after you've composed all the components. It will definitely benefit from your practice and growth!
 

Phillip Menzies

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After much writer's block and technical difficulties I have finally finished Ungoliant - Nan Dungortheb.
I listened to so much movie music to get inspiration for this piece including John William’s Jaws, Howard Shore’s The Fly and Jerry Goldsmith’s scores for Star Trek First Contact and Alien. Attentive listeners will hear some places where I have borrowed elements.

The piece is centred around 8 notes and 2 chords, C dim and Bb Minor, 4 notes in the first chord and 4 notes in the second, and that is about it. Much of the beginning has the eerie feel of suspense building and hints of what is coming with the full glory of Ungoliant being revealed with the 8 note theme by the whole orchestra mostly in unison. The theme moves into the notes of the theme being played quickly and in a juddery way, perfect for multiple smaller spawn of Ungoliant in Nan Dungortheb. This theme can be rolled out again and again for spiders in Mirkwood and for Shelob in countess variations not yet discovered and as my skill increases in more discordant ways.
 

Phillip Menzies

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2 videos in one day? This one is hosted by my YouTube Channel and composed by Meaghan Searle.
This piece of music is inspired by the great debates of the Valar in the Ring of Doom. It shows intertwining layers of instruments, flute, English horn and French horn playing over one another with the melody being seamlessly passed from one voice to the next. This fits in well with the season 5 themes and slots quite nicely into the council debate at the settlement of Estolad told in the Chapter “Of the Coming of Men into the West” in the Silmarillion. The eeriness at the end tells of the disquiet experienced by the members of the council when they discover that Amlach who spoke fell words was not really Amlach and that the people were being played by an agent of Morgoth.
I added my jiggery pokery to Meaghan's piece of music and have presented it in the same fashion as my videos. Mmeaghan has done an outstanding job which is complementary to the music I have so far published.
 
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