12.11.2010

The Lion Roars



Music quite often goes hand in hand with fantasy, mythology, and religion. Spectacular musical events are prevalent in fairy tales and religious texts. Witness the romantic description of North Wind's tempestuous shocks with reference to redeemed orchestral instruments, Eru's creation of the dream vision of the world by thematic variation and Aslan singing the beasts and stars into existence, or the might of Luthien's song to cast down the doors of the first Minas Tirith. (It's a huge topic that is worth a doctoral dissertation! Everything from Papageno's magic flute to Rapunzel's song to the Valkyries's chant comes to play!) The mysterious duality of music (celestial and physical, inexplicable and scientific) gives it the same merits as the familiar and yet challenging forests of fairy land. Lewis's Prince Caspian contains on of my favorite which I give to you here in full:

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Aslan, who seemed larger than before, lifted his head, shook his mane, and roared. The sound, deep and throbbing at first like an organ beginning on a low note, rose and became louder, and then far louder again, till the earth and air were shaking with it. It rose up from that hill and floated across all Narnia. Down in Miraz's camp men woke, stared palely in one another's faces, and grasped their weapons. Down below that in the Great River, now at its coldest hour, the heads and shoulders of the nymphs, and the great weedy-bearded head of the river-god, rose from the water. Beyond it, in every field and wood, the alert ears of rabbits rose from their holes, the sleepy heads of birds came out from under wings, owls hooted, vixens barked, hedgehogs grunted, the trees stirred. In towns and villages mothers pressed babies close to their breasts, staring with wild eyes, dogs whimpered, and men leaped up groping for lights. Far away on the northern frontier the mountain giants peered from the dark gateways of their castles.
This passage for me captures one of music's aims, its attempt to stir and disrupt and remake worlds. Gotta find that organ stop!
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Reading out loud is so incredibly fun! When dad read to me and my siblings he made a point of differentiating the voices of the characters and really adding drama to the whole oration. (It got a bit out of control when he was reading a Narnianesque novel I wrote in sixth grade which had about 200 different characters.) Prince Caspian is a challenge in this respect, especially in the chapter where Caspian meets up with about fifteen different animals who are all talking at once!
Peter, the Heavy Weight Champion of Funny British Exclamations, has met his match. In fact, he has been ousted. Trumpkin the Red Dwarf wins with such jewels as "horns and halibuts!", "bulbs and bolsters!", and "thimbles and thunderstorms!" See if you can work any of these naturally into a conversation.
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