Heroines of the U.S.S.R – Orpheus and Eurydice

I have been away for the past week, latterly in Northumberland but prior to that at the wedding of my friends Lee and Alison, now Mr and Mrs Broughall. As a wedding gift, I decided to try and compose a piece of music based on the vague concept of heroic (or unheroic depending on your take) love, picking the doomed romance of Orpheus and Eurydice as my overall frame of reference . I did think that perhaps the legend was somewhat inappropriate considering the occasion, but my ultimate goal was not to have the piece acting as symbolic of the legend, but rather a backdrop to allow the four sections to join in some sort of unified way; it was more about creating something I was happy with that would convey my congratulations and happiness at the marriage. I also had some excellent contributions from Liam and Chris, whose input I asked for as, between the three of us, we have worked together musically with Lee for a good many years and in various formats. I eventually put the CD together in a nice little case I hand made and such, which was remarkably skilful for me I think; I didn’t cut myself or anything.

The piece comprises four parts;

  • Dance of the Naiads
  • Argonautica
  • Descent
  • Orpheus and Eurydice

As Barry said to Chris at the reception – “In my day, it’s what we’d have called a ‘concept album'”. Hopefully it wasn’t too over the top. Liam contributed melodica and banjo to the second part, and Chris contributed vocals and guitar to the fourth part. For the sake of posterity, the piece was made in Ableton and Cubase using 5 second fragments of found sound, my own vocals, xylophone, water draining through a series of different pipes, miniature bells that hang in my garden, the birdsong in my garden at dusk (around July time) and a variety of effects made in Max for Live. The final running time is 24 minutes exactly.

The final section of Orpheus and Eurydice can be downloaded here, by right clicking and selecting ‘Save As’. It would be roughly in line with the point when Orpheus loses Eurydice forever.

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