Date of Submission
Project Advisor 1
My second senior concert is a live performance of music that accompanies a selection from A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay. Voyage is a Scottish work of fiction published in 1920. Influential on J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, Voyage combines elements of fantasy, philosophy, music, religion, and science fiction. I believe it is one of the greatest and most underappreciated works of fiction in the English language, which is why I chose to use it as inspiration to create a work of music.
The passage I chose to accompany is from pages 178-187 or, the second half of the chapter titled, “Swaylone’s Island.” This chapter concerns different philosophies of music. The main character, Maskull, has come to meet a man named Earthrid, a musician whose music has lethal power. They have a short discussion about the nature of music before Earthrid plays his instrument, Irontick, and kills Maskull’s female companion. Maskull then attempts to play the instrument, and ends up breaking it, as well as killing Earthrid.
The philosophical view of Earthrid is that music of simple symmetry is beautiful and pleasing to men. He chooses to make music of a menacing character with wild and disjointed symmetry. He wants his music to cause pain and to be rough and earnest.
When Maskull plays the instrument, he begins to understand the nature of composing and the source of musical inspiration, but then in a bittersweet moment he breaks it.
A philosophical discussion of the nature of music and composition set in a fantastical world is the perfect source to create a composition. Drawing from techniques used for accompaniment of film and spoken word, I will create a musical world for the lyrical narration of a novel.
Accompaniment of long lyrical passages is historically commonplace, yet has diminished over the years in deference to accompaniment of film and television.
Ultimately, my goal is to create musical accompaniment of an entire work – this would take well over four hours to perform, so naturally it was suitable to only do a selection of the book for my senior concert. It is only eleven pages, but the concert will be a healthy forty-five minutes.
This performance will require a different sort of concentration from the listener not normally required at a concert. The narration of the story is the main thing, at first, to which the listener will pay attention. Eventually, a symbiotic relationship between the music and the narration will develop. I will provide the written text as an effort to ease the fostering of this relationship in the audience. Ideally, they will experience a unity between the music and the spoken word. It is my goal to create this higher order level of harmony using all the abilities that I have developed in college.
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Simpson, Stephen C A, "Accompaniment of a selection from A Voyage to Arcturus (by David Lindsay)" (2013). Senior Projects Fall 2013. 11.