I always seem to take far too long between updates for my own taste, but as usual, it’s because quite a bit has been happening!
First, those of you who’ve been reading my blog might remember that a few weeks back I mentioned a piece of concert music I’d written, based on Norse mythology. Well, that one movement piece was such a success that I was commissioned to expand it into a small symphony of sorts, four movements long, each one a portrait of a god or goddess in the Norse pantheon. Writing it was rather frantic, but I’m incredibly pleased with how it turned out, and the audience seemed to enjoy it quite a bit as well. I’ll post the link, as well as the program notes at the end of this entry.
Second, I’ve just had the pleasure of being interviewed by John and Gavin of the Starfleetcomms podcast, a site dedicated to playing and facilitating play of the first game I wrote music for, Artemis: The Spaceship Bridge Simulator. They’re a great team of interviewers, and I got to talk a bit about the influences and experience of writing that score.
Third, I’ve been hard at work on several new projects; all of which I cannot wait to share with you, and one of which we’ve entered into IndieCade. Fingers crossed, and watch this space for more announcements about them in the coming weeks!
Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for:
Gods of the North, performed, commissioned by, and dedicated to the Elmhurst College Wind Ensemble.
Conducted by the composer.
Gods of the North
Odin, also know as the “Allfather”, is the ruler of Asgard, the realm of the gods. Odin is frequently depicted as a god of war, intellect, and mysticism, and is served by two ravens, Huginn (mind) and Muninn (memory), through which he watches over Midgard (our realm).
Beginning with a more contemplative moment, the piece depicts the ravens’ daily reconnoiter, as Odin’s theme is stated by a solo horn. Unfortunately, his raven companions bear ill tidings that bring Odin’s more warlike qualities into play, and he prepares for bloody conflict, arming himself with his magic spear, Gungnir, and accompanied by the barks of his wolves, Geri and Freki.
Frigg is Odin’s wife, queen of the gods, and highest-ranked amongst the goddesses in the Norse pantheon. She is the only other individual permitted to sit upon Hlidskjalf, the high seat from which Odin watches over the world. A goddess of considerable power, she is a master of diplomacy, able to convince her husband to that her wishes are his, and goes so far as to obtain oaths of protection from all things to ensure her son, Baldr, is safe from harm. Alas, due to Loki’s trickery, Baldr is killed, sending Frigg into mourning.
Frigg’s theme was written in imitation of the droning cadence of an ancient nordic bowed instrument called the tagelharpa, even as the middle section depicts a funereal chant for her lost son. A brief outburst of anger is leveled towards the subject of the next movement before relaxing into a controlled placidity, befitting the queen of Asgard.
Half-god, half-jötunn (giant), Loki is a mercurial figure in Norse myth, depicted helping as frequently as he is shown hindering the other gods and humanity in their tasks and quests. A trickster, Loki has many magical abilities, including the ability to change form, a talent he uses with aplomb throughout the various Eddas of recorded myth.
Eminently unpredictable, Loki’s theme winds itself around an angular tenor saxophone solo before devolving into a section depicting his dabbling with shapeshifting into some rather familiar aspects.
Odin’s most famed son, Thor, god of thunder, wields the magical hammer, Mjöllnir. He is known for his grand adventures, battles against evil, and his protection of humanity. He brings a rogue Loki to justice after Baldr’s death, and is foretold to finally perish during Ragnarök after winning an epic battle with his longtime nemesis, the giant world-serpent, Jörmungandr.
In this last movement, we hear Thor’s theme rising, as if for one final battle, even as the wind picks up, and the fight is met. As Thor’s fury begins to make itself heard, Mjöllnir’s theme, depicted as the flashing brass of trumpets and trombones, combines with the impact of the lightning and thunder it calls forth. As the tide of battle turns, Thor’s theme takes on a more heroic aspect, even as hints of Loki’s machinations begin to weave their way through the fight. At the climactic moment, our hero must make a decision that will either save or doom us all, as the sun rises once more over Midgard.