Scenes of music: Fable 2 music box

Posted on Sat 13 April 2019 • Tagged with Scenes of music

Song: Fable 2 Music Box (this links loops, the theme itself is very short)

Now, I picture you. Going into the attic and looking for a huge, immensely dusty suitcase, or rather a treasure chest with several locks on them. It also has a sign on it, neatly made but with a text akin to “If you’re not Sara, don’t even bother. The locks are magically enhanced”. Then you gently wipe away a layer of dust and pat the chest. So many memories in there. You’re slightly unsure if you should even open it.

First you open the outermost lock. That one is fairly simple and somewhat high-tech. It’s unlocked by your fingerprint.
The second lock is a bit more involved. You take the standard, comparatively boring key from your every day keychain and unlock it.
The third lock is a striking crimson and so magical, it has comedic value. You prick yourself in the finger with a needle in order to drop a single droplet of blood on it.
The fourth lock is unlocked with a teeny-tiny key that you keep on your bracelet. Even if the keychain is lost, the bracelet never leaves your arm.
The last lock is special. It’s not actually visible, but the chest won’t open if you don’t unlock it. You focus, smile and think, yes, you are sure you want to access the memories.

The chest opens. More dust is spreading and you hear a slight squeak from the gears that have become just a tad rusty. And then, the memories flood back. A slight golden shine comes out of the box and the impossibly romantic sound of a musical box is playing.

I wrote this for a friend on a whim while chatting. I picked the music to the scene this time instead of the other way around since she inquired what music the music box would be playing.

I enjoy Cooking with Friends. Truly.

Posted on Sat 13 April 2019 • Tagged with Memories

Yesterday has seen the 10th episode of Cooking with Friends. It was an event I’m proud to have held. With me were L, a first timer here at Cooking with Friends, and W, a seasoned veteran of culinary delights. Both assured me they had a great evening and the food which we prepared together was awesome. For this occasion I made something special: Soutzoukakia, a meatball dish from Greece.

I have imported this recipe from a vacation on Crete, Greece, when I had the chance to take cooking classes in the tiny hotel I was staying in. The friendly chef entertained all my question and showed me several recipes, the details of some are lost to time and some others in the combined mess of my hand-writing and confused note-taking that occurs when learning several dishes at the same time and working with limited amount of paper.

I’ll be frank with you: I had doubts about this episode of Cooking with Friends. I seem to have picked a bad date for the invitation. After 3 days of waiting I only had a handful of replies to the invite and one confirmation. In contrast to that, all slots for the event in November were gone within less than 24 hours. I even debated if cancelling the event to avoid a bad experience for my newcomer would be preferable.

In the end I got a second positive reply and we held the event. Great food was made, no accidents happened, I’ve made some notes for refinement of the dishes (technically a lie, I’ll make some notes after publishing this, probably) and we’ve sat together until the early night, playing Carcassonne, a board game. I admit not liking many board games, but this one, which is about clever thinking and construction instead of racing or battling others, fits my taste.

In the end I’m just rambling but I wanted to note how much these little social events tend to improve my mood. They do wonders for my mental health. This week has been harsh before, I had at least two days on which I felt awful and noticed some setbacks at work more than I should have but most of that has been blown away by the happiness I get from successfully holding such an evening. I needed to share that this is something that makes me happy, despite the work and effort that goes into it. Or maybe because of it. I couldn’t say.

Should you be on the guest list and be reading this: I’m extraordinarily glad to host you. Thank you.

Scenes of music: Broken Crown

Posted on Wed 20 February 2019 • Tagged with Scenes of music

Song: Broken Crown

They sneak up on her when she leaves the tavern. Several of them, all brandishing swords, sabers, daggers or spears. She smiles softly. There’s only ten of them. And she’d actually been hoping for a real challenge. Ridiculous. They approach. Slowly at first but more confident when she doesn’t run or scream. She adjusts her wide hat. The feather on it is slightly waving in the evening breeze.

She takes the rapier from her belt and raises it. The bandits are hesitant. They have not expected resistance. Her flamboyant appearance and the gilded rapier have thrown them off. They expected a traveling noble on a stupid quest for adventure. She takes two steps forward to approach the first bandit and her smile widens.

He raises his sword to stop her. Too late, much too late. In the time it took him to decide his next action her rapier has sliced through his jugular after she closed the distance with a leap forward nobody expected. Blood rushes out of the wound while he collapses. Some of it splatters onto her elaborate leather armor but the stains are almost invisible on its red color. The other bandits are furious. They attack ferociously. So the dance begins.

With flowing, almost dance-like movements she waves between her attackers, elegantly taking out one after the other without ever being touched by them. A slit throat here, a stabbed heart there, a hand clean cut off - the bandits are going down fast. To finish the last three she jumps out of range and shocks the first with a sudden burst of electricity, then sends sharp, cutting winds towards the second one, sending him flying. The last one is burned so quickly by an intense heat without flame that only ashes remain. She is skilled and her swagger was not a sign of arrogance - it was pure confidence in her well-honed skills as a duelist.

They picked the wrong woman to rob.

The song had me immediately thinking of a Western theme but I wanted something fancier than cowboys while still following the theme of confrontation. I liked the swagger of the Red Mage class from Final Fantasy XIV (FF) and thought to use this as a template for the character. After some research and questions to people I play with, I adjusted the combat scene to its current version. In contrast to FF it is more based on melee and less on magic; this is how I envisioned the scene in my head - it does not have to be a close representation of how the class plays.

Thanks to Zurin Arctus and Aruktai for their input on RDM style and gameplay.

Requested by Deithwen Addan.

Scenes of music: Greensleeves

Posted on Wed 20 February 2019 • Tagged with Scenes of music

Song: Greensleeves

The old adventurer tells the tale of his life to his friends and family one last time. He tells of his youth, of his prime, of his exploits and how his life has treated him until now, at high age. He has invited everyone to one last feast to celebrate because he feels he does not have much time left. They hang to his every word, for while he was only ever mediocre in combat, there was no finer storyteller in his time.

He speaks of years long past, of serving kings and queens. He tells of journeys across foreign lands, of conquests. He explains tense situations he barely survived and has his former companions speak about their common adventures. His life has been a long life and certainly a good life. A life whose stories are worth remembering; that is what he hopes to achieve with this last coming together - that his stories will be remembered even if he himself fades away.

He is a romantic if I’ve ever seen one.
I am captivated by his words and vow to carry his stories onward.

It took me only half the song to find a theme for it. The melody, despite being somewhat different from what I remember - I read this song is frequently used with a part for personal interpretation - and its varying tempo as well as tone sets up a story of multiple parts.

Requested by Kishuri Yllis.

Scenes of music: Riverside

Posted on Sun 17 February 2019 • Tagged with Scenes of music

Song: Riverside - (Originally a spotify link)

“The young nymphs are dancing near the river”, that’s what the uncle used to tell the kids whenever he told the story of that particular tale of his. “You’re not to go near them if you ever see them”, he emphasized.

Why would he say that when they are so pretty?
Why would he say that when their voices are so sweet?
Why would he say that when their dance is so enticing?
Why would you doubt their friendly intentions when they are inviting you to dance with them?

“The humans in their towns are too serious”, that’s what the old fairy told the nymph younglings. “You’re not ever to show yourselves to them”, she emphasized.

Why would we hide though?
Why would we stop our dance though?
Why would we not sing from the bottom of our hearts?
Why would we not invite them to our revelries?

That is the story told among the people who carry both nymph and human blood. You thought it was something more epic? Something from a legend? Nay, I tell you. It was a trait common to both nymph and human by nature: curiosity.

Riverside is a quite focussed on its lyrics by itself; there’s definitely a story in the text. I did not want to stick too closely to what I heard, but only use it as a guiding line for my writing. The calm but not too slow piano in the background brought up a certain mood for exploration and a slight positive mood which is what I focussed on.

Requested by The knight of the routing table.

Scenes of music: No Stars

Posted on Sun 17 February 2019 • Tagged with Scenes of music

Song: No Stars

The singer looks at you. Directly at you. She’s not looking at the audience per se. You know she’s looking at you. You also know she’s weaving in the little Spanish intermezzos for you. For you are her love and she has learned to love your heritage, your language, your country in which you live together whenever she can rest from being on the road. Musicians are always on tour, they say. It’s not quite wrong, that much you’ve understood by now.

But you know it’s worth it. Nothing but standing on the stage and performing makes your sweetheart so happy. It does not matter whether she sings a sad song, whether she sings a desperate song, whether she sings a happy song. The look in her eyes, the wrinkles next to her eyes, the expression on her face are priceless. The time you spent together and the things you experience together gives both of you inspiration for you are as much an artist as she is.

You live together, you dream together.
In the starless nights.

This was one of the more difficult songs for me. It has this really slow movement which I found hard to transform into an elaborate story. Because of this I tried a short scene, something that is very focussed on the moment the music would be heard, like at a bar concert. I’m not sure I’m doing the singer justice with this. I tried to go for that dreamy moment when a lover is at her concert and still has this long-lasting affection. They still enjoy hearing their loved one’s voice after many years together.

Requested by Seren Seraph.

Scenes of music: Your Bones

Posted on Sun 17 February 2019 • Tagged with Scenes of music

Song: Your Bones

In all my travels across the realm I have never met people with such a strange custom regarding funerals as the Viirani. Their funerals are less funerals in the sense we know them from other people and more akin to dissections. They have a way to repurpose almost all parts of the bodies of the deceased. The bones of their ancestors form the columns of their culture, often quite literally. They believe that everything you do must contribute to the community. I find it fascinating to see that such a culture could develop from individuals not connected by a hive-mind like you’d find in ants, for example.

I look at the bloody and gruesome business. Everyone here is calm, even the young ones are used to seeing this. Theirs is a culture of warriors and hunters; bones will be parts of their weapons, their armor. The strength of their ancestors is with them, always. Other necessities and sometimes decorations are made from the less solid remains. Put your mind at ease, friend, they are not a cannibalistic culture. I know it is a thought that comes up when you imagine these rites I speak of.

The simple fact is that all of their society is organized heavily towards reuse of things. There is little they despite as much as wastefulness. Visiting them for even a few days is fraught with danger for me even though I try my best to leave my habits of our civilization in the cities far away. You don’t realize how much you take for granted until you’ve seen people living the other extreme.

When writing this piece I didn’t listen too closely to the lyrics at first. I let the melody guide me, then dove into the lyrics later. I want to interpret as a moment of loss, but not a moment of sadness. In addition, a story I’ve seen recently inspired me in regard of the reuse/recycle mentality. There is an arc in That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime spanning several episodes about a people eating their dead and their fallen foes to become stronger that gave me an idea to try something a little less offensive. I wanted the people to be admired, not despised.

Requested by Stephen Voss.

Scenes of music: Siúil a Rúin

Posted on Mon 07 January 2019 • Tagged with Scenes of music

Song: Siúil a Rúin

I see the woman every day when I pass by on my way home from work. She’s always sitting on the same boulder, next to an ancient oak. Sometimes she’s humming and on some rare days she’s singing a sad song in her clear, beautiful voice. I usually stop to listen. She doesn’t seem to mind. Only very rarely does she look up or even notices someone more than in passing.

The song is so sad that it brings me to tears despite all the things I’ve seen in my life. Her eyes and her soul are far away. I have seen the woman every single day without fail since I moved to this town fifteen years ago. She has aged but her resolve and her devotion has never wavered. I’m never sure whether to pity her or whether to admire her for the way she lives her live.

This one was the most difficult song I tried yet because I was not sure for a long while how to tackle this. Then I gave it some more plays and figured it would make most sense to stick close to the theme and the sad melody. I love the song and tried hard to write something that would live up to the emotion welling up when I listen to it.

Requested by Regin Theradiant.

Scenes of music: Gold and Slaves

Posted on Mon 31 December 2018 • Tagged with Scenes of music

Song: Gold and Slaves

“Quick”, she tells us. We keep to our guide, faces deep in the hoods of our disguises. The sun burns as we hurry along. She leads us across the markets. “You mustn’t let others see how much you detest the slave trade.” She had told us that many times already. We still had trouble not acting, not caring. Slavery goes against so many of Gibraltar’s teachings. But we had a specific goal here. We were on a mission that took priority over our resentment. I take a short look at the people. Almost all of them have resigned to their fate. They all look like they haven’t gotten a single meal for days. I tend to feel little for others but this misery is too much. Ashamed I look away and continue following our local guide as the rest of my team does. I am certain they each have their own thoughts about what they see here. Currently we can’t risk to cause a diplomatic incident though. We are to retrieve a certain object in the possession of a local businessman. Gibraltar had made it clear that it was of the utmost importance that the university was not to be implicated in this. He also stressed that a legal, nonviolent way of retrieval was highly preferred.

Truth be told I shouldn’t even be here. I’m here because I complained about boredom and the university system being useless. So the Administrator decided to teach me a lesson by including me in a mission even though my education was far from finished. How do you even get the idea to send a first year student on a foreign trip, no matter how great the rest of the team?

Two of them made pretty clear how they felt about an absolute beginner joining them. Not so the team lead - but on the other hand I knew Kakysha already. She’s professional and wouldn’t let her feelings influence the potential success of a mission. I was worried and distraught by the thought of going on a mission. I would’ve never even chosen this life, but sometimes you just aren’t given a choice. Kakysha was one of the most commendable fighters at university though. Most of her performance evaluations were amazing. Those things gave me some comfort and made it just a little easier to do this - to go hunting for a relic in a foreign nation.

This one was gathering dust in my drafts folder for a long, long time because I never thought this would fit what I usually write. I am publishing it now since it was a major inspiration for some of the scenes I talk about; the combination of atmospheric music and intense narration going hand in hand.

Scenes of music: You should see me in a crown

Posted on Mon 31 December 2018 • Tagged with Scenes of music

Song: You should see me in a crown

You wonder why it is that they always hurt you. They also make you hurt others. You shut out the pain and cut them down. Puppets. You pretend the other kids are the same as the training puppets earlier. The screams are muted. You only hear the sounds of your blades and their blades. Everyone is dying.

This is what the training is every day, every month, every year since you were taken. You don’t know how long you have been in this place. The only thing that matters is survival. Survival and the crown. The others have made a crown out of scrap metal and glass shards, because that is all you have when you’re not made to fight others. The one who owns the crown is in charge. You only want to be left in peace. When you have the crown, the others will leave you alone. Or be left in pieces.

The crown is symbolic - it cannot be worn without pain, it cannot be gained without pain, it cannot be held without pain. Nobody wants to be a ruler here.

When writing this one, the greatest hints were the recurring metallic sounds that I immediately associated with blades. It was the young sounding voice and the crown in the lyrics that made me think of a horrific death camp for kids.

Requested by Hax Silverstone.