wallace_trust: Me and my plum tree (Default)
Making these is so relaxing, and not difficult at all!   Thanks again, Febobe!  :D

Here are two versions of Tol Eressea for your pleasure:  

#1 has a solemn yet ethereal melody which is derived from a stock music clip on the Ambient Mixer site.

#2 features a loop of my own music set against the same environmental sounds.  I'm not sure which of these I like the best, but both atmospheres were of course assembled with Sam and Frodo in mind, walking slowly along some peaceful beach in the Uttermost West.  :)  



wallace_trust: Me and my plum tree (Default)
Thinking about all those poor folks displaced by Harvey, and their furry friends too  :(  Our problems here are so trivial compared to that ongoing disaster.  

Crowd work tends to be slower over the summer months, so, trying to engage in something new as a distraction from my worries, I decided to explore a freeware called LMMS the other day. This is a free and very comprehensive software package for a home music studio.  I am really impressed by it and highly recommend it for anyone who wants to make music.  

The sound sample library it ships with is enormous and the samples are of high quality.  Using a combination of "Plucked Strings 3" and "Moonlight Piano" I was able to more or less duplicate the voice of my currently broken harp, Edelweiss.  Then I got into the sequencer and found out how easy it is to enter music using its "Piano Roll" method.  This is something anyone can use to compose with, even if they don't know much about notation.  Anyway, I finally decided to try recording my "Frodo in Valinor" piece which I posted here in sheet music form some weeks ago.  

It worked pretty well.  I did change some notes, as I didn't like what the synth did to the bass 5ths as well as several of the chords.  Ironically the software's automation track, which is easier to use than I would have believed, helped me add some humanity to the playback, though not nearly enough yet IMHO.  Still, even though this is very amateurish and only my first attempt using LMMS, it will at least give an idea of what the song is supposed to sound like  ^_^

I chose not to embed this file, just posted it here on my cousin's server.  My web browser (Opera) automatically starts playing the file when I click on the link, so I'm hoping this will work for you, too.  If too many people can't play the file, however, I'll post it on SoundCloud, so let me know  :)  

Oh yes, (for Febobe especially) I did post a loop from this on AmbientMixer.com, which is one of the neatest audio websites I have ever seen!  It's under "Music--Synth" as "Valinorean Fields Harp."  That website has close to a hundred beautiful Tolkien-inspired atmospheres, including one remix by me!  :D  

 




wallace_trust: Me and my plum tree (Default)
 As most of us already know, the Professor's written work has so permeated the culture that references to it abound absolutely everywhere.  All a person has to do is to keep their eyes and ears open, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of music.  There are literally hundreds of musical recordings out there which are based on Tolkien's works and characters, and quite a few of them are epic and well worth collecting.  Nevertheless, most professionally published fan music only obliquely references its source, so most LOTR-based recordings, with some exceptions, are more circumspect than this ambitious 2004 album.

Perhaps because of the boldness of its title, no performer's names or other identifying features are listed on the CD flyer except for "Jason Bouwman Illustration," which designed the cover art-- there isn't even a publisher's address.   But the performers on this disc are highly inspired professionals, and include an acoustic guitarist, a pianist/synth player, a drummer, vocalists, an impressive choir and at least one very good composer.  
 
The disc, which is not available as a download, is composed of ten tracks.  EDIT:  The disc IS available as a download, here!  Thanks, [personal profile] filkferengi !
 
1.  "Sing Hey"  This beautiful piece reminds me of Rivendell, with a capable singer, and an acoustic guitar performing lovely chords which evoke the "sehnsucht" recently described to some of us by [personal profile] sartorias -- the emotion of deep longing which we feel while witnessing great beauty.  An interesting interlude in the midst of the piece contrasts with the rest, sounding a bit like Gollum creeping past an otherwise lovely scene.
 
2.  "Gandalf"  begins with a choir singing in a style totally befitting this character's power, majesty and dignity-- perhaps illustrating his origin as one of the Maiar.  Then synthesizers, electric guitars and drums enter the picture, and we are given a tense, action-filled overview of the wizard's adventures.  A lingering interlude with a female choir suggests his healing in Lorien, and this is followed by an unusually jazzy moment of gloom-and-doom before he sets out again on his epic journey.
 
3.  "Fog on the Barrow Downs" begins with a tentative, contemporary synth composition which segues into a bit of slightly dated soft rock.  Then comes a pleasant, rollicking medieval interlude, played on period instruments, which reminds me of Bree.  Modern instruments eventually enter to strengthen the backbone of the melody, but before long we've left town and are on the road again, accompanied by the same synthesizers with which we began.  
 
4.  "I Sang of Leaves of Gold" features the same singer and guitarist who we heard on the first track, making it easy to visualize Galadriel wandering among the trees of Lorien.
 
5.  "Ever On and Ever Goes the Road" is a piece my Frodo/Sam "radar" finds extremely interesting.  (I could write an entire essay on "plausible deniability" regarding the treatment of my favorite pairing by fan music-- and maybe someday I will.)   Anyway, this composition sounds like them to me, as they begin their long march down to Mordor and beyond from the heights of the Emyn Muil.  It's quite unusual, consisting of a long, call-and-response "conversation" between two synthetic violins superimposed over a steady synth pedal which unambiguously illustrates weary marching feet.  (Violins are a favorite among fan musicians when they wish to illustrate the sweetness of Sam and Frodo.)  There are a few brief moments of discord, and many lovely displays of harmony; times when their melodies run parallel to one another, and times when they despair; and the piece is long enough to be quite satisfying.  Though (by design) it is not particularly beautiful or flashy, by the music's end I always feel as though I have been honored to have had such an intimate journey with these, the most humble of heroes.  
 
6.  "The Riders of Theoden"  Probably the weakest track on the disc, this composition still begins impressively enough with the choir and the sounds of a horse running in circles.  A grating synth entering the background does not appeal, but this quickly turns into a lively keyboard composition representing great deeds.  Then back to the choir we go for more drama.
 
7.  "Annon Edhellen"  This exquisite composition tends to bring tears to  my eyes, and is rich in the aforementioned "sehnsucht."  It's the one I can't forget, and it is the most beautiful composition on this disc.  I don't know which part of LOTR the composer was thinking of when this was written-- perhaps they were thinking of several scenes at once, or the beauty of the book in general.  But when I listen to this, I see Frodo and Bilbo standing at the prow of their swan ship, laying their eyes on that "far green country" beyond the Sundering Seas for the very first time.  And the final chord does not return to the root, but leaves us hanging, for the road goes ever on...
 
8.  "Party at Bag End"  And do hobbits know how to party!  This piece begins with the eager anticipation of a chatting crowd, quickly adding a touch of sparkly chimes and a magic flute before diving into a robust, rollicking, vaguely medieval-sounding celebration.  But a thread of tension runs through this celebration, as though it is to be taken more seriously than it appears.  At its climax we are having a blast, with a rock-and-roll band showing us this is one heck of a party;  but a brief interlude of plucked strings and flute also illustrates someone tiptoeing out the door...  
 
9.  "One Ring"  The disc's second weakest composition, this piece has a strong melody but IMHO suffers at the beginning from a mishmash of instrumentation, including a synth that almost sounds like a light saber.  Still, much of it stands strongly, so your mileage may vary.  The tune at its height is very dramatic.  
 
10.  "Bilbo's Song"  is haunting and lovely, a beautiful, sad, sehnsucht-filled  melodic collaboration between a very good saxophone player and an equally good pianist.  It's too bad we may never find out who the performers were.  
 
Overall, I would give "Lord of the Rings" a solid A+.  However, be advised that this piece is not as rarified as the lofty works by the Tolkien Ensemble, or "In Elven Lands."  This is lovely and innovative pop music.  I consider it an important part of my collection.  

As far as I can tell, the disc has two editions, with different cover art for each.  It is not overly easy to locate and may require some online searching.  The only way to positively I.D. it is to check the track listings.  I've seen it on several big name websites at wildly varying prices; I got mine from eBay for $1.99.  

EDIT:  Here is a photo of my edition, to aid in identification.  

Album cover
 
 
wallace_trust: Me and my plum tree (Default)
*Draws deep breath.  These blasted cut tags...!  I can't ever get them right on the first try...*
 
 
I've composed a couple of dozen pieces of music for LOTR over the years.  In fact, I am harboring a tune right now that's been bugging me to write it down-- something about two little swallows soaring in the air over the sea.  Anyway, here is a find from one of my storage boxes ^_^  I'm afraid this little piece isn't anything as grand as some of the Frodo-inspired harp music I've heard on CD, but it got me a passing grade in one of my college psychomusicology courses ^_^  
 
Done under one of my old, overly dramatic pen names ^_^
 
 
 
Sheet music below the cut... )

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