I am hoping that this is the penultimate piece of music for SilmFilm Season 4 (fingers crossed that the Oath of Feanor will be ready by the music session this Thursday/ Friday.
Anyway this is the one that the script team have been waiting for, Hurdy Gurdy Goblin Feet is what I have called it. By no means an easy feat. It doesn't follow exactly how it was set out by the script team, but I must refer to an interview with the song writers of Frozen when they said that the story and the songs were written together and often the development of the song would affect the way the story went. this is one of those cases. The video with its static images does not do it justice, but some dynamics I see are Luthien wresting control of the song from Sauron fairly early because I needed to show the beauty of her "nice" version on it's own. This could be done on screen by having the camera focus on her while Sauron's music is very firmly in the background/ I have opted for this version. After she wrests control right in the middle of Sauron playing his own theme music he is shocked and watches the hurdy gurdy play without him touching it. He then tries to take back control and battles with Luthien for the rest of the song, more fervently as the song nears its climax. I have also added some sound effects of Sauron tuning the corrupted instrument at the beginning and at the end some wind down and breaking sound effects as Luthien breaks the device with her will. I also think it would be good to show Sauron loosing his ability to keep his fair form (disguise) during the struggle and reverting to a more evil looking version of the Sauron that we know. This was also influenced by the few hurdy gurdy artwork I could find. the skeleton bard/cleric gives a real creepy feel.
Here are my notes that went up onto YouTube with the video.
Hurdy Gurdy Goblin Feet
An original composition for the Silmarillion Film Project podcast with the Mythgard Institute and Signum University.
My sincere thanks goes to Megan Mosier DeCenzo who provided the vocals for Luthien.
I am used to receiving commissions from the Tolkien Professor for some music but this one came from the script team. They came up with a scenario for the discord that Sauron caused at the Mereth Aderthad (the Feast of Reuniting). The scene is that Sauron disguised as a Noldor takes apart some of the musical instruments and corrupts them into his own invention which resembles a hurdy gurdy. He plays it up on a balcony where he cannot be seen and the music that wafts over the crown at the feast causes some to argue and bicker. Luthien notices this and identifies that the discordant music is the cause and starts to turn the music from its intent into a little humourous ditty. The script team wanted the ditty it be poem by Tolkien, Goblin Feet. The hurdy gurdy itself is a combination of two drone strings continuously playing notes with little variation (violin and cello) with the tune and harmony which is minor with many off notes (viola) and twanging notes played erratically (plucked strings).
Musically this begins with Sauron tuning his invention and then beginning his discordant playing. He gets one run through done, breaking the verses with a rendition of his own musical theme, before Luthien twigs as to what is going on. She then tests her skills by singing ahs that reach out and grab the tune and force it into a different configuration. She sings a chorus and she half turns it from minor to major. When Sauron attempts to play his theme again it is forced into a major key and he loses control completely. Luthien sings her ditty, accompanied by Daeron on the flute, forcing the drone strings to harmonise with her own variation of Sauron’s dirge. She repeats the verse and this time Sauron tries to exert some control over the viola part with little success. In the final verse Sauron pulls out all the stops and tries every trick he knows to try to wrest control back off Luthien playing trills, mordents, treblements and other ornaments. He is still trying in the last repeat and in the last line gives up and transforms into a bad to escape detection. Luthien, exerting her power causes the evil hurdy gurdy to break.
I changed one line as I discussed in the script forum:
Of enchanted leprechauns
‘neath the berries on Hawthorns
as I did not think that leprechauns really fit into Tolkien’s Middle Earth.
There are another one or two words switched around to reflect what my singer sang. Here are the lyrics for Goblin Feet. they are also shown in the video.
I am off down the road
Where the fairy lanterns glowed
And the little pretty flitter-mice are flying
A slender band of gray
It runs creepily away
And the hedges and the grasses are a-sighing.
The air is full of wings,
And of blundery beetle-things
That warn you with their whirring and their humming.
O! I hear the tiny horns
‘neath the berries on Hawthorns
(Of enchanted leprechauns)
And the padded feet of many gnomes a-coming!
O! the lights! O! the gleams! O! the little twinkly sounds!
O! the rustle of their noiseless little robes!
O! the echo of their feet - of their happy little feet!
O! the swinging lamps in the starlit globes.
I must follow in their train
Down the crooked fairy lane
Where the coney-rabbits long ago have gone.
And where silvery they sing
In a moving moonlit ring
All a twinkle with the jewels they have on.
They are fading round the turn
Where the glow worms palely burn
And the echo of their padding feet is dying!
O! it's knocking at my heart-
Let me go! let me start!
For the little magic hours are all a-flying.
O! the warmth! O! the hum! O! the colours in the dark!
O! the gauzy wings of golden honey-flies!
O! the music of their feet - of their dancing goblin feet!
O! the magic! O! the sorrow when it dies.
This piece was a lot of fun and had its own unique challenges. The writing process was actually in reverse. I started with Goblin Feet and wrote my own music to accompany the words given above .I wrote the flute accompaniment and the drone strings for the base chords and then went about bastardising it. I experimented with changing the key and finally hit on lowering it two semitones and changing it to minor which seemed to fit in well. I found a new chord structure and wound a new melody and harmony with little in the way of repetition to continually keep the audience on edge. When Luthien cones in with her chorus I changed a few notes to follow her major melody but kept the minor harmony so the major and minor clash. After Luthien wrests control for one verse and chorus Sauron tries to regain control. In this section I kept the drone strings accompanying Luthien and wrote in some interesting ornaments and articulations trying to show Sauron trying to wrest back control of his instrument. The final verse sees him exerting a greater amount of pressure without success as the ornaments increase in severity. The final line is played in perfect harmony as Luthien wins this battle.
This was very difficult to find images for as I needed an elf playing a hurdy gurdy. I opted for a number of images to show that as the battle goes on Sauron looses the ability to keep his disguise and he reverts to a more evil form. I also needed some good images of Luthien but they are mostly out of doors in the forest, and of course I needed images of elves arguing which is difficult to find because elves are so serene and never argue. I have settled on some images that do not exactly fit with Tolkien but get across an important element such as disagreeing, while obviously from their dress they are not from Tolkien’s world. My sincere thanks goes to the following art work and artist who give my music that little extra something to get across the ideas:
I give you Hurdy Gurdy Goblin Feet