Within each of GGK’s books there are songs played and sung, and verse composed and read. From Kevin’s song for Rachel which becomes Paul’s song for Kevin, to the Garden Song of Arbonne which brings Lisseut fame, to the title song of A Song for Arbonne itself. Songs that represent love, loss; even battle. Considering how much of GGK’s work relates to the various forms of art, this isn’t surprising. This section of the site is related to songs, music and poetry written by other people who have been inspired by GGK’s books. There are also recorded instrumental versions of some of the songs in GGK’s books. (Use of the lyrics in a recording would be a copyright breach, of course.) Martin Springett has promised an instrumental treatment of ‘Rachel’s Song’ making use of a cellist (!). Others are invited to submit their instrumental workings of the songs in the novels.
“Painted Feet (On Ochre Sand)”
This is an instrumental piece composed by Martin Springett. Martin relates: “Painted Feet is most definitely Kay inspired, firstly by The Lions of Al-Rassan, and then I suppose a “subtext” from Sarantium, the idea of life being a fleeting thing, sometimes captured through art. The dancers dance becomes a memory, beautiful but transient, the sands she dances on shift and change. I started working on it while reading Lions, and as these things normally go, I didn’t do a good recording of it till I was reading Sarantium, so they merged in my head.” In this composition, Martin plays the twelve string guitar, and sings, William Penner Mackay is on percussion, Ron Allen on Bansuri (flute) Peter Smith on flute, and Rahlen Sullaphen/Fretless Bass.
This is a new instrumental piece composed by Martin Springett. He writes: “Dianora has touched me more than any other character in Guy’s novels, I must confess. Her character is defined by war and loss and tempered by love. Her anguish as a woman in a male world, her love of the man who placed the knife in her soul, and the vengful act that she knows will finally extinguish her soul if she acts upon it. ( All these thoughts were with me when I felt I had to write something. I knew it should definitely not be a song with lyrics, it had to be something for the listener to wander through, nothing pinned down.) I always knew that I had to have a cello as the main melodic voice, and I was very lucky to meet Allyssa Wright, who because she has played many different kinds of music, didn’t just play “the dots”, but allowed the melody to breathe with a human ebb and flow. For those who are interested, I recorded the guitar in one take, and apart from the harmonies, Allyssa also captured her cello part on the first take. This is rare.”
Martin’s CD of Kay inspired music is called “Bright Weaving” and is available from his website http://www.martinspringett.com. It contains the two selections above, as well as 17 other tracks inspired by all of Guy’s works from The Fionavar Tapestry to Under Heaven. The music can also be downloaded altogether or individually from itunes, here. Click here for a review of the CD, and here for an essay by Martin himself on the genesis of the music.
This is our third instrumental offering composed by Martin Springett. He writes: “The music that I came up with for Under Heaven was created in a delicious white heat of inspiration while I was working on the map and reading the novel. This was an entirely spontaneous reaction to the characters and their various dramas, and that extraordinary feeling of standing solitary beneath a wide open sky, Under Heaven in fact.
I recorded this at home on my iMac using Garageband, which is an amazing piece of software once you get the hang of it. My good friend Allysa Wright played cello, beautifully, as she did on “Dianora”. We recorded her in the front room next to a slightly sagging Christmas tree. There wasn’t enough room for her to swing the bow in my crowded studio, also room size and surfaces makes a difference to the recorded sound, so the bigger living room was perfect for Alyssa’s cello sound. My daughter Miriam played flutes, although we had to deal with her cocker spaniel Orla while she was recording. Orla likes to “sing” along, so we had to record several times until Orla had decided that she had done her bit and ambled off to chew her favorite orange ball. The bass part was flown in all the way from New Zealand! My old friend Dr. Rob Burns played this. He is an academic teaching Rock music and performance, a Senior Lecturer in the department of music and theatre studies at the University of Otago in Dunedin N Z. I hadn’t heard from Rob for many years, and he amazed me by telling me that he had played on all the music for the Blackadder TV series.
Thanks again to Guy for the wonderful inspiration here. As he wrote on the title page of Tigana some years ago for me, ‘…another place to go.'”
Left click the link below to listen to the instrumental within your browser, or right click and select “save target as” if you wish to download the music to your computer.
Another offering from Martin Springett, this is the tune he performed in Toronto at the 30th Anniversary event of The Summer Tree. Below you can see Martin pictured at the event, posing in front of the artwork he created for the covers of The Fionavar Tapestry, which were (deliciously) reproduced on the cakes in front of him.
Additional pieces by Martin Springett
Martin Springett continues to create beautiful pieces inspired by GGK’s works. He has made several of them available on Youtube:
Two Moons: “Inspired by by Guy Gavriel Kay’s literary universe. The Two Moons are a connecting device throughout most of Guy Kay’s novels, so here I can touch on all kinds of themes that come up in all the books, I never play this one the same way twice!”
Portrait of Kim: “A musical portrait of Kimberly Ford, from The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay.”
River of Stars Suite: “Inspired by Guy Gavriel Kay’s novel, River of Stars.”
Come Lay Me Down – Tanyss Nixi
Canadian Tanyss Nixi has been a professional performing musician since she was 17 years old, and is planning to release an album this year. She wrote and recorded ‘Come Lay Me Down’ which was inspired by The Lions of Al-Rassan. She has very kindly agreed to me adding an mp3 of the song to the site. You can hear more of her music and find out more info about her at her page at http://www.tanyssnixiweb.com
Come Lay Me Down
and the Come Lay Me Down Lyrics
Ceinwen’s Bow – Talis Kimberley
Talis Kimberley is another talented singer/songwriter who regularly tours Europe and America doing gigs, and has released a successful album ‘Archetype Cafe’. She describes her sound as ‘urban wardrobe.’ Her song ‘Ceinwen’s Bow’ is inspired by the goddess Ceinwen of Fionavar. It has been recorded in the past, but we don’t have a recording available at the moment to put on the site. Talis does have plans to record it again soon, though, at which point we’ll get a copy here! To find out more about Talis Kimberley and her music, visit her site Talis.net.
A Song for Arbonne by Merav Hoffman
This song is inspired by Bertran and Lisseut, mostly. It has musical notation to go with the lyrics.
The Summer Tree – Jes Perry
Jes Perry is a singer/songwriter from Boston whose first full length cd of original music is due out this autumn. One of the tunes on the cd is entitled ‘The Summer Tree’ and is based on some of the images in The Summer Tree and and also Marian Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon. Most of the images in the tune relate to Paul and Kevin’s trials from The Summer Tree and the myths of the stag and the old pagan/celtic rituals that were invoked. Jes has her own website at http://www.jesperry.com with more information about her work and more samples of her music, but she has very generously said that she’d like this to be the exclusive place on the web where you can hear ‘The Summer Tree.’ So enjoy folks, because this is one talented musician we’ve got here!
A Song for Arbonne, Spring & Summer (Instrumental) – Bruno Basta/Dagoth Ur
Bruno is Croatian, and a piano player, and also a vocalist and keyboard player in his slavic metal band (Slavogorje). The band’s lyrical themes are about Slavonic culture, history and religion. Bruno is also a fiction lover, and since there is no place in his band for fantasy or medieval themes, he started a solo project called Dagoth Ur (the name is from the Fantasy PC-RPG Game “Morrowind”), and in it he creates neo-classical and dark/fantasy ambient atmospheric pieces inspired by GGK, George Martin, fantasy RPGs, Tolkien… Bruno writes:
GGK is my favorite writer and one of my greatest inspirations. My favorites are Sarantine Mosaic (because of his love for Byzantine Empire), Lions Of Al-Rassan (very strong and emotional book)… and the best one: A Song For Arbonne with her perfect landscapes and deeply constructed protagonists. All those songs, the lives of the bards, court-intrigues and medieval romanticism…the book is very poetic and dreamy. And what about this piece? I have a piano at home and I like playing it. Playing some of my old melodies, or some tracks from soundtracks (Lord of the Rings, Braveheart)… but also improvising melodies based on my current inspiration. And then a song creates. Yes, like magic. 🙂 And I’m playing it over and over, until I abrade it and save it in my memory. So it was with this one. “A Song For Arbonne: Spring And Summer” was created actually during summer 2007. I composed it to be passionate and multicolored a bit: fast piano-melody with some backing echoes and choirs that symbolize crossing of the cultures (just like Al-Rassan).
‘Silvenes’ is a poem sent in by William A. Bazzell, inspired, as will be clear, by The Lions of Al-Rassan and the beautiful cities that existed for a time, before their destruction in the fall of the khalifate.
‘Ode to Fionavar’
‘Ode to Fionavar’ was penned by a regular denizen of the Bright Weavings forums, our very own Simon Fraser. He writes: “Upon completing my nth re-read of the Tapestry (lost count so long ago), I became unexpectedly caught in an upwelling of emotion when, near to the very end, I again read the description of the song given by Ra-Tenniel, Lord of the lios alfar, where he gave voice to “…the long tale of the war just past.” I would love to have been able to hear such a stirring summary of the tale I had just read. Not being able to, I decided to pen a few words of my own in an attempt to express my appreciation of how the story still moves me after so long a time. ”
Read Simon’s Ode!
A poem on the beauties of Fionavar, sent in by Emma Melville.
Read ‘In Fionavar’
Sent in by Krissy Hunter, who writes: “I am an avid reader of Guy Gavriel Kay’s works. My mother has had his books on our shelves for sometime now, and just this past summer I picked up Sailing To Sarantium, and from then on I was completely hooked. In a matter of weeks I had read every book that we owned (which is all of them). Inspired by A Song For Arbonne and an impending trip to France, I wrote a poem called “The Troubadour”.
Canadian classical composer Paul Frehner used the Sarantine Mosaic as the inspiration for this work, which was performed in concert in March, 2010. Below is a summary of the piece, taken from the programme:
“Sarantine Polyphony draws its title from Canadian author Guy Gavriel Kay’s historical fantasy series The Sarantine Mosaic. The action in Kay’s novels takes place in Sarantium, a fictional city and empire modeled after Byzantium in the time of Emperor Justinian, ca. sixth century AD. In the novels Kay vividly paints a sophisticated society that is both rich in culture and custom and filled with political intrigues and complex sub plots. Dichotomy of theological beliefs is a central line of inquiry. Though Sarantium is by imperial decree a monotheistic society, pagan superstitions and physical manifestations of the half-world are ever-present and hold sway over the lives of its inhabitants.
Sarantine Polyphony consists of three movements. The music is not narrative in nature but is rather evocative of the imagery I received from place and character settings in the story. Melodically, I use at times an invented type of folkloric string writing that alludes in some ways to ancient Byzantine instrumental music.
Movement I – The Zubir
The Zubir is the physical manifestation of the pagan bison god of the forests. Here I am trying to capture its terrible and awe-inspiring presence as it emerges from the mist on the Day of the Dead demanding the sacrifice of a soul.
Movement II – Shirin’s Dance
Shirin is the daughter of an alchemist and the most celebrated exotic dancer in the city of Sarantium.
Movement III – The Sleepless Ones
The Sleepless Ones are a holy order of clerics who keep prayerful vigil all night long while the god fights through the darkness of night to ensure the light of a new day. In this movement my intention is to create the impression of the clerics’ chanting echoing in the vast space of their great basilica.”
You can listen to the second movement on youtube.com here: Shirin’s Dance
Submitted by Rosanne Catalano. “In 1990 I picked up The Summer Tree in the college bookstore. The imagery pulled me into a beautiful, lush, meticulously crafted world, where I could both lose myself and learn about myself. My copies of A Song for Arbonne and Ysabel might be the most worn-with The Lions of Al-Rassan a close third-but I love revisiting any of GGK’s worlds. So it’s not surprising that, when Bright Weavings held a ballad contest a few years back, my ballad soon changed entirely, turning into an ode to GGK’s imagery.