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Josh Fredman

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The Curious Score No. 2: Merakibate Gesh Medley [Sep. 1st, 2014|09:27 pm]
Josh Fredman

The Curious Score: Music from the World of Relance / August 2014
Mate of Song: “Merakibate Gesh / Beneath the Red Eyes / Bardkiller’s Words / Glimpse of the Golden Sway”

* * *

Well, I’m a derp. I thought my Curious Score installment was due on the fourth, because that’s when it was due last month. But it wasn’t the fourth itself; it was the first Monday of the month. I had forgotten about that until today, when I realized that it’s both Monday and September 1.

It was a die roll. By forgetting when the music was really due, I could have come out ahead. It might have been due on the fifth, sixth, or even the seven, rather than the fourth. But instead I rolled the proverbial snake eyes, critical fail.

I was already planning to work on the music today, but I wasn’t planning on having to finish it today. Yeah, yeah, I don’t have to do anything, but my deadlines are important to me. I like to respect them. And, as someone who has trouble finishing stuff, if I don’t respect my deadlines I don’t think I’ll be as successful.

I do have a piece for you, hot off the presses. It wasn’t the piece I had been intending to do these past several weeks. I tried hard on that one, but after a couple of hours it was clear I had no way of finishing it today or even making a substantial breakthrough. So I went to my WIP vaults to see what other viable candidates there were.

I quickly settled on this one. It’s a medley, written cinematically (i.e., you’re supposed to be imagining the action as it plays), set in Section II of Mate of Song when Afiach has her first altercation with Chronus Ill Thanatos.

You can listen to it here:

“Merakibate Gesh / Beneath the Red Eyes / Bardkiller’s Words / Glimpse of the Golden Sway”

That’s a mouthful, isn’t it? That’s because it’s four relatively short pieces of music, interwoven together.

The first part, “Merakibate Gesh,” aurally illustrates the moments immediately before, and the very moment itself when Thanatos strikes Afiach with the mind-controlling gesh. It runs from 0’00” to about 0’38”. This was the original core of the piece that I subsequently built upon. The working title was “Something’s Wrong,” and that fit well with the specter of the gesh. I set out to make the music sound as “wrong” as possible without making it seem as though I were just throwing in random notes. Short as it is, there’s still a rhyme and reason to it. I mentioned last month that the Village of Ieik theme wasn’t ambitious. Well, this piece, successful or not, is very ambitious. Most of my music is ambitious, but there’s especially a lot going on with this one. The dynamics are very carefully laid. The tonal interactions are all deliberate. The meter is very messy. Nothing is right about the gesh itself; it’s a horror; and I wanted the music to reflect that.

The second part, “Beneath the Red Eyes,” from about 0’38” to about 1’23”, illustrates the moments immediately after Thanatos binds the gesh to Afiach. Here we accompany Afiach as her body goes through the transformation, and as her mind goes through the awareness of what is happening to her. The piece opens with a beautiful piano flourish, which isn’t a reference to Afiach or the gesh but to the Power of the Gods, and in this case specifically the will of Sulvajos—the “Red Eyes.” This piece of music I spliced in from a different WIP in my vaults, an old avoid-revealing-her-actual-theme musical introductory cue for Silence that wasn’t going to get used for that purpose. You wouldn’t know, because you haven’t heard any of her music yet, but this section makes several allusions to music commonly associated with Silence, without actually stating any of her cues literally (with one very tiny asterisk). This closeness to some of Silence’s music without actually stating it is an allusion to Silence’s relationship both with the Gods and with Thanatos, which is still very nascent at the point in the Curious Tale timeline when this event takes place, and is also a foreshadowing of events later in Mate of Song where Silence does appear. The piece is unmelodic; it’s more about the feels. O, those feels.

The third part, “Bardkiller’s Words,” appropriately enough follows Thanatos as he speaks to Afiach after the gesh has bound to her. It goes from roughly 1’23” to about 2’17”. I wanted it to start out with something stereotypically villainesque before finally ending in ambiguity, something that belies Thanatos’ appearance as cookie-cutter evil at this point in the story. Note the prominence of chromatic percussion in this portion of the medley. Thanatos doesn’t have a single representative musical instrument the way many characters do (e.g., the oboe for Silence). Instead he has the entire chromatic percussion section of an orchestra. This is an homage to the Dark Lich’s temple and battle themes from The Secret of Mana. This segment of the medley, like the one before it, is also unmelodic. That is probably the biggest failure of this medley. Thanatos’ theme is still under construction, so I don’t have a melody yet, and couldn’t come up with one on the fly today. So while it invokes Thanatos, this part doesn’t really speak for him. It is, rather, an imperfect outside depiction of him. You’ll be hearing his theme more properly, another time.

The fourth and final part, “Glimpse of the Golden Sway,” begins at about 2’09”, overlapping with the end of “Bardkiller’s Words.” It’s a direct, literal, very plain statement of the Swayfire’s theme, except without any development. Like the title implies, it’s just a glimpse, just a tiny filament of a moment. I know the strings fade out awkwardly. I am too tired to deal with that right now. I may very well fix it at some point.

Take it all together and you have a medley of one of the most pivotal events in Mate of Song. =]

Perhaps owing to its medley status and lack of sustained melodies, and definitely owing to the fact that it only occupies four staves on the score, this piece only took four test versions. Also helping was that I lucked out with the soundfont roulette game at Solmire. Saphyr 2000 was the first soundfont I tried and it was very clearly the correct choice right from the beginning.

Because “Merakibate Gesh / Beneath the Red Eyes / Bardkiller’s Words / Glimpse of the Golden Sway” is such a long title, I may generally refer to this one by either “Merakibate Gesh Medley” or perhaps by its original WIP title, “Something’s Wrong.”

I am absolutely wiped out from doing this thing in one day, and am past the point where I can judge the final product as coherently as I’d like. However, I think it’s close enough to where I want it. It’s very different from “The Village of Ieik.” Not as catchy. Not as re-listenable. But much more intelligent and challenging.

I hope you enjoy it.