One could say, at some point over the past few weeks, I stopped doing my allotted ten minutes per day. That would be a valid argument. Illness happened, hospital happened, and the challenge lost its importance to me.
But finding the exact day when that happened is a lot harder, and depends completely on your opinion as to what constitutes A&S work. I've joked before about the gears in my brain continuously cranking out music, which is true. I remix and compose works on the fly, the same way normal people tap their fingers. 99% of it gets confined to the Recycle Bin of my Brain, but occasionally the other end of it will push out a theme, or a filk, or a story, or an idea, or even a full song. Closer analysis will reveal it's usually made up of bits and pieces from the aforementioned Bin.
Should I argue that I haven't been working during that time? I have been. Music's been happening, and more filks are being processed and more musical concepts are clicking in my head. But, for the past few weeks, I have had no goal and nothing to show for it, and nothing to report about. More than one day has gone by when I haven't had ten minutes of deliberate music work, though I've had a few hours of background music work.
So I'm stopping the challenge here, not because I haven't been doing A&S work, but because it's too hard to define. Music is too vague, and permeates my brain to the point where I'm not even aware that I'm doing it half the time.
So let's keep this blog going, as a storing point for music ideas and songs as they happen. Celtic stuff, too, if I keep looking into it. Tonight I'll hop back onto MuseScore, see if I can suss out how to save songs into graphic form, and keep doing some long-overdue updates to the eBook of Boom.
My challenge is over, but my music isn't.
One, two, three, four...
Today I'm relaxing in every sense I can. My 10 minutes are re-reading the Sons of Turienn, and possibly the next story in the book.
Lute work for these past two days. I've worked out a chord progression that fits with Taglio, and I can now play and sing it at the same time. Even the dodgy chord is sounding a bit better now, provided I can remember to control myself.
An unexpected downside with lute is the extremely close proximity of the strings. It's very hard to avoid one or two of them when playing a chord. I imagine it's less of a problem with guitar, where the strings are heavier and further apart, both of which make it harder to play them by accident.
Since lute is double-stringed, or possibly since I have no prior experience with string instruments, I just can't play some of the chords. They're too far apart for my fingers to reliably reach and be able to cover both of the two strings sufficiently to change the pitch of the note. All the chords I've learned so far are self-taught modified versions, usually only spanning three different courses because that's all that I can reach.
One chord in particular has been pissing me off since I started because it's always sounded horrible. I think it's because I keep bumping another string and getting undertones of a clashing note. Not too sure yet, the frequency of the note is too low for me to identify it reliably, but all I know is that when I play the chord lighter, it sounds better.
Ideas for the future:
Filking 'Camden Town', after randomly singing it on the way to work and noticing that the syllable structure perfectly matches 'Dragons Bay'. Maybe I can write a song about moving from Aneala to Dragons Bay.
Hopefully the Crusader's Blood four-part version this weekend, if I'm not too tired.
It's about time I started trying an original work. I might re-read the folk tale I read on Day 2 and see if I can turn it into verse.
More for the eBook of Boom.
Unrelated, but a fun fact that I love to share with my students: 'Alouette' is actually a song about catching a little bird, pulling its feathers out and mocking it. Don't sing anything without understanding what it means, kiddies.
To the tune of 'The Sound of Silence'
Hello caffeine, my old friend
I'm feeling energised again
My sword and board shall ring in conquest
I'll stand and hold the field the longest
In days to come
The tales of my dominance shall echo through the feasting hall
When bards recall
The love I share
When first I tried that potent brew
I found that nothing else would do
The power surging through my muscled frame
Adrenaline that none could ever tame
I took the field
And ten seconds later, I saw a dozen fighters dead
The others fled
Before the might
And then one day, on cobbled stone
I knelt with pride before the throne
No longer counted with the amateurs
I took the belt and chain and golden spurs
The words were spoke
With blade on my shoulders, a knighthood given unto me
On bended knee
And all because
The game goes on, the night grows cold
With faces new replacing old
I know that royalty will come and go
Even the etiquettes and rules I know
No matter what happens, one thing I know shall never change
The sweet exchange
And though my might has never fled
From time to time I wind up dead
The black bean's influence has just begun
It seems I may not be the only one
My secret's out
The source of my power has found its way to others' lips
My light's eclipse
It seems they've stole
- Technically written for Sir Nathan Blacktower, but go ahead - try to tell me you don't know anyone this could apply to.
When I was lucky enough to take up the post of Blackwing Herald, I inherited a whole lot of stuff with it, including the Book of Ceremonies. It's a file, with a fancy heraldic medieval-looking camouflage cover, containing all of the common award, court and procedure ceremonies for Lochac. If I'm called on to do anything, up to and including swearing in of a new King and Queen, this folder has what I need.
Every ceremony takes up at least one page, with fancy, curly writing and the full procedure for the ceremony, including what the Herald and the King and Queen say.
The thing is, Kings and Queens don't follow the script. It's not as if they have to. Every King and Queen I've seen so far prefers to wing it, giving each ceremony a more personal touch as they can specifically focus on the candidate(s) and their achievements. Only the Herald needs to follow the script, given that we're not allowed to improvise in court.
When I was lucky enough to herald for Ariston and Lilivati at May Crown, they had different versions of each ceremony to match the time period of their rule. They were amazing ceremonies. And it only took three A4 pages to fit every single one of them, since they knew full well that the Herald's the only one who needs to follow the script.
Today I'm writing shorthand versions of each ceremony, consisting only of what the Herald needs to say. I won't replace what's in the Book of Ceremonies, but I'll add a cheat sheet to it, fitting all the basic ceremonies on as few an amount of pages as I can. If a Herald is confident enough to be able to call for people to enter court, and call for cheers, without reading verbatim, then those sheet(s) should be all they need.
I also need to spend some time rearranging the ceremonies that are in there. They've gotten a bit scrambled since I took office. Whoops.
Tonight I'll upload another of my older songs, tentatively named 'Withdrawal'. A member of our peerage posted on Facebook on the first day of this year about their first cup of coffee, concluding with 'Hello, my friend.' Cue the comments echoing 'The Sound of Silence'. Cue me, bored again, stretching my filk muscles.
Up until now I've been assuming Taglio was just a jaunty song about the stereotypical gypsy tribe bewitching passers-by into joining them. Most of the lyrics lend themselves to that idea. But there were a few sentences that didn't quite match.
What first raised my suspicions was reading the final two lines of the chorus. "Better hope that you're dancing with Taglio / Better pray the Gaselli is Taglio." Hoping, fair enough. Maybe Taglio was just a very sexy person. But 'pray'? That sounded ominous. So I looked through the rest of the song.
"Offer sweet mutton and not your hand." That could mean a few things.
"Just as well not to think of the feast that's to come." That's... odd.
"Leave behind not a sole drop of red." Yeah, we're not talking about wine here.
So I decided to follow my own advice, and look into it.
It took a fair bit of digging to uncover the name 'Taglio'. Best as I can work out, he's a lesser-known folkloric hero famous for his dancing. He's also a Gaselli, whatever that is. Google told me that that was Finnish for 'Gazelle', but then I stumbled across a webpage full of folklore tropes, which I'm looking forward to reading in full later on.
Turns out that the Gaselli were a race of fey people, similar to Satyrs, but with two striking distances. Firstly, they were a mix of human and gazelle, rather than human and fawn. And secondly, rather than sex, they were mostly interested in food. And if Satyrs are known for having sex with people, well...
I'm pretty sure the song is about being bewitched into running away with the Gaselli, which usually leads to being sacrificed and eaten. And in this particular case, hoping like hell that the one you're dancing with is Taglio, who may just prefer dancing with you rather than eating you.
This song is awesome. I need to hear more of S.J. Tucker. And now that I've mostly got Taglio memorised, next step is to work out a lute accompaniment. It'd go perfectly with Pencampwr when that rolls around in a few weeks.
I've had a few chord ideas for Crusader's Blood, but the work is going to have to wait. When it comes to free time, Pathfinder is a harsh mistress.
It was also ridiculously expensive and complicated. The creators wanted software that you could use to do practically anything. Since you could do anything, it made it stupidly difficult, at times, to do anything.
Now that I'm saving money again, I'm learning how to use MuseScore. As far as I can see, it's identical to Sibelius, only instead of being expensive and complicated, it's free and simple.
There is, as far as I can tell, no real downside to this. I have traded the ability to save a song file in one of thirty different graphical formats, only two of which I've seen or used before, for a song which has 99.5% of the information I'll need to write my music contained within a single A4 interactive help page.
More on this as it unfolds. Today was spent learning how to use the software and constructing some basic songs.
Tomorrow, if all goes well, I'll write 'Crusader's Blood' and see if I can't arrange it into four-part harmony.
I made a few modifications to some of the eBook of Boom songs. I'll upload them later on. It's about time I got back into regular additions. Tam Lin, Taglio! and The Shape of Things need to go on there so that I can remember them, next time I'm at a bardic circle. Not to mention the Known Words songs I picked up from Festival.
To make up for my dreadful short-term memory, I've got a good memory for music. A few people have commented on how I can recall hundreds of songs - not just the words but the music, well enough to improvise around them. I figure it's just what I do. Some people fight.
It's gotten to the stage now where I can't remember all the songs I know. The eBook of Boom is meant to be more than just a songbook; it's an aid for me to recall songs which may otherwise slip my mind. I can scroll through it, see the title of a song I haven't performed in a year or so, and play it.
Just under 100 songs in the eBook, so far, but I'm not planning on stopping.
We're currently performing two songs over the weekend. 'The Hunt is On' is a wild, bouncy song about hunting, with just the right amount of dark connotation to it. One of my favourites. It's also easy to pick up and sing, and has a chorus everyone can join in with should they wish to. Perfect for a tavern.
Secondly, we have 'The Mushroom Song'. This one has three separate parts, and since Alexander Adams loves to make things as difficult as he possibly can, two of the parts are identical but out of sync. Very creepy when done well.
Since I'll be playing a lute to go along with the song, I've decided to play the drone bass line. But since I also like to make things difficult, I'm singing the out-of-sync drone bass line.
Playing in sync, singing out of sync.
Conveniently forgetting my synesthesia.
Luckily we didn't go for long enough to let the pain build up too much; the nature of the droning bass means that there is literally no gap for my brain to reset itself, so it's just a mercy that the out-of-sync part is only going to last about twenty seconds before the awesome soloist comes in and I can switch to playing chords that fit.
Not a good idea, but so worth it.
I did take the opportunity to look into some more music by Heather Dale, S.J. Tucker, and Damh the Bard. I foresee a few expensive weekends coming up as I widen my repertoire.
I mentioned wanting to turn the May Crown voyage into a poem, but I'm doubting whether this will work. Inspiration is just not there. I'll keep trying.
It's bouncy, with a good melody and an interesting story, and the very format of the song does not lend itself to thrash chords. If I want to learn this one in earnest, I'm actually going to have to learn how to play it.
Up until now I've been getting by with chords on the lute. Enough to carry the tune, but relatively little skill.
Time to change that.
In the mean time, I've spent my ten minutes today collecting a few medieval poems which sound interesting; when I'm feeling more up to it, it should hopefully be a bit easier to write music to accompany these.
Ideas for the future - four-part choral version of 'Crusader's Blood'. The melody carries elements similar to that of a bass part from the standard four-part arrangement during the classical period, particularly the perfect 5th leaps towards the end. When I look into period compositional techniques, it'll be interesting to see if it's similarly appropriate for music that's a few hundred centuries older.
Whan the turuf is thy tour Check out the link if you'd like some more similarly depressing laments. I suggest watching the accompanying video when you're done.
I'm leaving this here for a while rather than publishing it as a finished song, since there might be more to come.
Oh dear, what can the matter be?
Some of the peerage is locked in the lavat'ry
They've been there from Sunday through Saturday
Nobody knew they were there
The rapier fighters have long been afeared
Of the stoutest of heart and the Greyest of Beard
But the Baron ran off and now he's disappeared
And the field is contested once more
She came to Aneala to offer her skill
But she went to the bogs and it all went downhill
And poor Ant has to stay in the toilets until
Someone else comes and fixes the door
We've looked on the list field, we've scoured the site
For the Order of Chivalry's sexiest knight
But Sir Clement went out for a drink late last night
And we'll not see him back until four
Mistress Branwen was next to get stuck in the loo
And without her paintbrushes there's nothing to do
We knelt under the door and we pushed them all through
And she's scribing awards on the wall
And the following morning the warfield's alive
And the Captain of Archers to vict'ry should strive
But when nature comes calling, all men must arrive
Dede Kilic can't get to the war
Half the peerage is trapped in their own private hell
And a knight will be needed to combat the smell
But it seems that the door locks from inside as well
And Sir Nathan has locked himself in
With the finest of leathers and pieces of eight
Came Sir Andre, the merchant of reas'nable rate
But he met a horrific and foul-smelling fate
And now everyone's stealing his stuff
Then Leonie took one look and cleared up the plight
When she opened the door without needing to fight
Because nobody else read the plans for the site
And they'd pulled when they should, in fact, push
May Crown happened.
The last time we saw a Crown Tourney on Lochac's western shores was two and a half years ago - a good six months ago before I, in my own words, woke up. This was the first that I'd been to.
To my immense delight, I got to herald some of it, too. The Crown Tournament, the following day's Rose Tournament, and two out of four of the royal courts.
I like heralding royal courts. I was privileged to meet our new Crown Prince, Steffan Glaube, at Aneala's Championship at 2015 when he was first King. I'd only been heralding for a bit at that time, but I was entrusted with my first royal court as well as the championship tournaments and the induction of the new champions. If memory serves me, there were 26 awards given over that weekend.
As they say, if you want to see if someone can swim, push them into the river.
It's an honour to see Steffan's theatrical awesomeness as King, and more of an honour to stand behind him and assist by calling up his victims. My tenure will have expired by the next time I see him again, but what the hell, there's always hope. My heralding days are far from done.
But anyway, with any camping weekend comes the inevitable bardic circle and general music.
There was too much to identify specific ten minute blocks throughout days 8 and 9, since I tend to eat at feasts very quickly and then jam for the rest of them. Though I'm quite proud of my efforts so far with the Peerage in the Lavatory song, and I'll need to finish that up.
Day 10 was spent doing something not quite musical - downloading and installation of MuseScore so that I can continue my efforts into adding songs to our eBook of Boom. I'll also re-establish my Dropbox on this brand new flashy laptop and get back to adding songs to the Known Tunes.
I've added another of my works to this journal - the first filk I ever wrote. Two of my best friends were blessed with a bouncing babby who was given the name 'Henry'. I immediately started calling him 'Prince Henry'. As a christening present, I endeavoured to filk 'King Henry' to honour this brand new cherub and see what the future shall bring.
It's full of in-jokes, but I'm still proud of it. I think I captured the essence of the original quite well.
Ten days are gone, ninety days to go. I currently have two projects to work on - completion of the filk for Peerage in the Lavatory, as well as what will hopefully be my first original work: I will attempt to write a poem detailing May Crown Tournament and the victory of our Crown Prince.
To the tune of 'King Henry'
Let never a newborn grace the world, these virtues lacking of
A joyous face, two parents proud, and free of whooping cough
Prince Henry, he had the three, for luck he wanted none
Good fortunes reigned, all evils tamed, the saga has begun
What destiny, dear Prince Henry, shall life to you afford
The joyous crafts, performer's arts, or honour by the sword?
Your story now is yours to tell, your tale to unfold
And when you have reached what you have sought, your life shall be as gold
To feel the pride of ages in the joys of parenthood
Bestow my love, my progeny, draw back the fasten'd hood
And louder howled the primal cry, the first of many more
He finds his newborn voice with which his needs he shall implore
The painful sound all parents fear, their blood and bones be chilled
The promises of want untold, desires unfulfilled
The piercing cry to ne'er be silenced, lest his wish for naught
The om'nous prophecy unnamed, where meaning must be sought
What's this, what's this, you Prince Henry, why do you sound this call?
Your belly full, your nethers dry, you want for naught at all
Give up your secrets, beauteous babe, reveal your wish to me
I swear by all that I hold dear, I'll gift it unto thee
Some milk, some milk, you Prince Henry, is this your heart's desire?
A belly full, a blanket warm, a golden pacifier?
Though you cannot your cries explain, your need is crystal clear
And unless I learn of what you seek, you'll rouse the hemisphere
My head, my head, you Prince Henry, you cause an ache most foul
You'll raise the realm, both near and far, with your resounding howl
I'll take you now into my arms, I'll bounce and rock and sing
And if you could possibly quiet down, I'll give you anything
Some sleep, some sleep, you Prince Henry, some sleep you bring to me
Oh you must cross the veil of dreams and bring some sleep to me
He has gone and closed his eyes, his parents wept delight
Though 'twas all in vain, the cheeky scamp awakened through the night
Oh no, oh no, you Prince Henry, your crying pierces through
The realm of dreams, the closed eye, contested strong by you
Tomorrow brings the threat of work, I need to rest my head
If I hold you close for one more hour, will you let me seek my bed?
The night has fallen, Prince Henry, the clocks have chimed three
I'll lay you down, your cries have ceased, your crib has called to thee
My brain is addled through and through, my limbs have ceased to move
Two hours of sleep is all I get, I hope you can approve
The dark is gone, the day has come, I lift my heavy eyes
The fairest face that e'er was seen greets me as I rise
Though sleep has been deprived of me, I hold you close and say
I shall love you now, and keep you safe, forever and a day
Oh dear, what can the matter be?
Some of the peerage is locked in the lavatory
They've been there from Sunday through Saturday
Nobody knew they were there.
Aneala doesn't have a huge number of peers in its population. Not enough for the personalised version of this song that our Baroness mentioned a while ago. It was her idea to expand the idea from 'Laurels' to 'Peerage' to try to come up with a longer song.
Today I spent my time going over our Order of Precedence to have a quick look at the available peers of Aneala and picking some who are still local and still play, so that I can try putting this song to paper. It's about time, after all.
Order of Defence
Order of the Laurel
Leonie de Grey
Kilic ibn Sungur
Branwen of Werchesvorde
Catherine de Arc
Order of the Pelican
Rhianwen ni Dhiarmada
Liduina de Kasteelen
Order of Chivalry
Clement von Arlon
Andre du Montsegur
Tomorrow I have DOTT first thing in the morning, so I might see if any verses jump to mind.
A quick entry today since there's another Pathfinder game to run tonight.
This is a quick example of Early Irish poetry. I've not been able to translate very much of it yet, so that might be an ongoing project, but at the moment I'm just using it as a short example to read and practice pronunciation.
Dom-farcai fidbaide fál
fom-chain loíd luin, lúad nád cél
h-úas mo lebrán, ind línech,
fom-chain trírech inna n-én.
Fomm-chain coí menn, medair mass,
hi m-brot glass de dingnaib doss.
caín-scríbaimm fo roída ross.
This is a lot of fun, but beyond my current level of skill. I'm going to put the pronunciation practice on hold until I've got more source material, and maybe an audio guide.
Since May Crown is coming up, I've had an idea which will definitely take up ten minutes a day. If I can document enough of the tournament, I'd like to try to compose a poem detailing the victor of the tournament and their journey through each round. Wins, losses (if applicable), methods of victory, weapon choice, that sort of thing.
I might turn it into a song. We'll have to wait and see.
We've been having internet problems of late. So when I came home today with the intention of quickly looking up some early Irish poetry for my ten minutes, I should have anticipated that the internet would have other ideas. Since I'm running a Pathfinder game tonight, I didn't have time to try and make it work.
So, instead, I practiced my lute.
'Chickies In the House' is still locked at the same speeds as it was before, mainly because I'm well aware that it currently doesn't sound good. The different materials for the strings, and the fact that one of the courses is only a single string, mean that every time I swap courses the sound quality changes noticeably. Have to see if I can lessen that with some more practice.
The internet's working now, so I'm putting this link here quickly for tomorrow. I'll grab a poem and follow through with my original plan for today - learn how to pronounce it and translate it, if I can.
Not much else to report, really. 95 days to go.
If I'm sending my persona down the path of Celtic folklore and mythology, it's only natural that I should start learning how to read and pronounce one or two of the languages.
Earlier today I decided that my work for Day 4 would be to check out some ancient Celtic music, in the hope of expanding my repertoire with music that was more period. A few websites later and I'd discovered that Celtic music has its origins during the early Colonial period, and thus, out of period.
Next option would be to look into Celtic poetry and try setting some of it to my own music.
There's plenty to choose from, but again, I'd chosen a subject too ambitious. A fact which became perfectly obvious when I looked into one of the more famous poems and discovered that I had absolutely no idea how to pronounce these words.
So, another step back, in preparation for moving forward. Today I start researching and learning how to pronounce Irish Gaelic.
It's not as easy as that, given that all the research I've done so far (not much, admittedly) points to three distinctly different main Irish dialects, but it's a lot of fun and it's a fascinating thing to learn.
For my own reference, here's what I've tried to tackle today. It's basic, but it's a start.
Vowels have single sounds, and come in two varieties. Unaccented vowels are short sounds, while some vowels are written with an accent - a fada, I think it's called - and these have longer sounds.
Broad vowels: A, O, U
Slender vowels: E, I
Consonants are pronounced in one of two ways, depending on whether the accompanying vowel is broad or slender. Broad consonants seem to be pronounced in much the same way as they would be in English, and while slender consonants are mostly the same, there are a few notable differences, such as a slender 'D' pronounced more as a 'J'. 'S' should be 'Sh', and 'T' should be 'Ch'.
'H' is not a letter, it's an operation which changes the consonant that precedes it. For example, a broad 'Mh' would be pronounced 'W', and a slender 'Mh' would be pronounced 'V'.
As always, there are exceptions. And there's still far more to learn.
I think I'll spend tomorrow looking for a jolly good old Irish Celtic poem, and learning and practicing how to pronounce it.