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Old 11-07-2009, 08:28 AM   #1
Andsigil
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Elves and Music

If elves still existed and made songs, then they would live in Ireland:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VG6bi04-cUA

My young love said to me my mother won't mind,
And my father won't slight you for your lack of kind,
He went away from me and this he did say,
'It will not be long love till our wedding day.'

He went away from me and he moved through the fair,
And slowly I watched him move here and move there,
He went his way homeward with one star awake,
As the swan in the evening moves over the lake.

The people were saying no two were e'er wed
But one has a sorrow that never was said,
And I smiled as she passed with her goods and her gear,
And that was the last that I saw of my dear.

I dreamt last night that my young love came in,
He came in so sweetly, his feet made no din;
He stepped up beside me, and this he did say,
'It will not be long love, till our wedding day.'
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Old 11-13-2009, 05:44 PM   #2
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*sigh of yearning*
Thanks for the link! Makes me regret very much that I probably won't have the means and/or time to go there anywhere in the near future - but it also conjured up fond memories of Wales, which is very similar in some places. And most of the video would also have fitted very nicely into the 'I see Middle-earth'-thread.
Quote:
If elves still existed and made songs, then they would live in Ireland
Actually, if we take Tolkien's word that the Shire would be roughly in the position of Oxfordshire on a map of modern Europe, that would put the Grey Havens more or less on the western coast of Ireland. So if any of the Firstborn still linger on the shores of our world, that would indeed be the most likely place for them!
Which reminds me of something else*. In many regions of Germany (and possibly other European countries as well?), we have folk tales about elves, dwarves, brownies or other faerish beings leaving the country in large numbers. The reasons given for this exodus vary - sometimes it's us humans growing too numerous and filling all the formerly quiet places, sometimes it's the spreading of Christianity and the sound of church bells which the fairies couldn't stand - , but most of the stories involve a ferryman who shipped the emigrants across a great river and was rewarded in gold or silver enchanted to appear as dirt or leaves at first sight. Quite often the river is the Rhine, meaning that the exodus was headed westwards.
So if the fairies emigrated from central/continental Europe and kept moving westwards, where would they eventually end up (short of sailing across the Great Sea)? In the British Isles and Ireland.

*(I have a sort of phantom memory of mentioning this on another thread before, but no idea where and when this could have been.)
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Old 11-13-2009, 09:09 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Pitchwife View Post
So if the fairies emigrated from central/continental Europe and kept moving westwards, where would they eventually end up (short of sailing across the Great Sea)? In the British Isles and Ireland.
Actually, you have just described the Celtic migration across Europe. Eventually, they were pushed by Germanic tribes from Europe and Britain, and the last of them eventually settled in Ireland, Scotland and Wales -- were, of course, all the best faery stories are told.
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Old 11-14-2009, 07:25 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andsigil View Post
If elves still existed and made songs, then they would live in Ireland:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VG6bi04-cUA

My young love said to me my mother won't mind,
And my father won't slight you for your lack of kind,
He went away from me and this he did say,
'It will not be long love till our wedding day.'

He went away from me and he moved through the fair,
And slowly I watched him move here and move there,
He went his way homeward with one star awake,
As the swan in the evening moves over the lake.

The people were saying no two were e'er wed
But one has a sorrow that never was said,
And I smiled as she passed with her goods and her gear,
And that was the last that I saw of my dear.

I dreamt last night that my young love came in,
He came in so sweetly, his feet made no din;
He stepped up beside me, and this he did say,
'It will not be long love, till our wedding day.'
Sounds like you've been reading Tapestry.
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Old 11-14-2009, 09:11 AM   #5
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Great song by the way. Some other versions...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr_hhkY4Bnk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdrqkMvCx3I

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wy3uG_MhNxc

Just a few.
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Old 11-15-2009, 12:16 PM   #6
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What sounds most "Elvish" to me is Enya's music, and many of her songs. (I discovered her only thanks to "May it be" and "Aniron" in the Fellowship movie!)

Especially "Exile" seems to me connected with Elvish sea-longing, also because of the lyrics:

"My light shall be the moon
and my path - the ocean.
My guide the morning star
as I sail home to you."

(Although the video to the youtube clip suggests something quite different, but I heard the song without that first)
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Old 11-15-2009, 12:39 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Guinevere View Post
What sounds most "Elvish" to me is Enya's music, and many of her songs. (I discovered her only thanks to "May it be" and "Aniron" in the Fellowship movie!)
I agree wholeheartedly, and I'd rep you if it would allow me to. I've been an Enya fan since the Shepherd Moons album of the early '90s.
As you said, many of her songs have an Elvish feel. "Paint the Sky With Stars" sounds perfect for the voyage of Gandalf, Elrond and Co. to the Blessed Realm.

Suddenly before my eyes / Hues of indigo arise / With them how my spirit sighs / Paint the sky with stars / Only night will ever know / Why the heavens never show / All the dreams there are to know / Paint the sky with stars / Who has paced the midnight sky? / So a spirit has to fly / As the heavens seem so far / Now who will paint the midnight star?
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Old 11-18-2009, 04:23 AM   #8
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How did Tolkien's Elves become associated with that style of music?
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Old 11-18-2009, 05:56 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Eomer of the Rohirrim View Post
How did Tolkien's Elves become associated with that style of music?
With Enya? I'm sure it isn't, for eveyone.
It's difficult to describe why I hear it that way. It's easier to listen and say, 'Ah, now that's what I mean'.
I think it has something to do with the vocals having an ethereal, somewhat eerie quality, coupled with such strong melodies that manage to have an ancient feel to them.
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Old 11-18-2009, 07:23 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eomer of the Rohirrim View Post
How did Tolkien's Elves become associated with that style of music?
Her style is very much based on the Irish folk tradition, and that is a style which many people seem to associate with Tolkien's Elves. I can certainly appreciate the association.

Wiki describes her music thusly:

Quote:
... Enya became known for her unique sound, which was characterized by voice-layering, folk melodies, synthesized backdrops and ethereal reverberations.
... which does sound quite Elvish, although I don't recall any mention of synethisizers in Imladris.
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Old 11-18-2009, 08:48 AM   #11
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But is there any basis to this in Tolkien's writing?
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Old 11-18-2009, 11:09 AM   #12
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But is there any basis to this in Tolkien's writing?
Highly unlikely. Enya wasn't born until 1961, and would have been only 12 or so when the Professor passed on.
At any rate, it's all opinion as to what sounds 'Elvish' to an individual listener. For me, Enya probably is the nearest to it.
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Old 11-18-2009, 11:24 AM   #13
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One of the finest discussions I've ever seen of music and Middle-earth is by our own Aiwendil. A revised version of this paper will, I believe, be in Estelyn's forthcoming book on Music in Middle-earth, but for now here's the early version: A Speculative History of Music of Arda.

A really superb analysis! It taught me much about music in general as well as about Middle-earth. I can't speak highly enough of Aiwendil's thought.
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Old 11-18-2009, 01:18 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
Highly unlikely. Enya wasn't born until 1961, and would have been only 12 or so when the Professor passed on.
At any rate, it's all opinion as to what sounds 'Elvish' to an individual listener. For me, Enya probably is the nearest to it.
Is there a basis to the ubiquitous association with that 'ethereal' kind of music, not Enya in particular.
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Old 11-18-2009, 09:10 PM   #15
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Is there a basis to the ubiquitous association with that 'ethereal' kind of music, not Enya in particular.
Not to my knowledge.
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Old 11-19-2009, 03:37 PM   #16
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I don't really see what's so Elvish about Irish Music and Enya. Or maybe, yes, I see why it's associated with the Elves, but to me it's sounds too "clichéish" or "ordinary" or "soapy" to be truly Elvish. (But I actually liked the Enya bit Guinevere linked. ) Elvish music should be something less familiar to my (western) ear, in a way something not stained by the clichéishness that now stains this Enya-style music, something that sounds more "original"...

I can't really explain, but maybe you can listen to this. It's something I have found and associate with Elves thanks to my father, but I find it incredibly beautiful and definitely somehow Elvish (maybe more Wood Elvish than High Elvish, though.) I'm well aware that the song lasts around ten minutes, but it is really worth it to listen all of it, you can do something meanwhile and have it as background music or something, but listen to it!
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Old 11-19-2009, 06:58 PM   #17
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Quote:
Frodo began to listen.

At first the beauty of the melodies and of the interwoven words in elven-tongues, even though he understood them little‘ held him in a spell, as soon as he began to attend to them. Almost it seemed that the words took shape, and visions of far lands and bright things that he had never yet imagined opened out before him; and the firelit hall became like a golden mist above seas of foam that sighed upon the margins of the world. Then the enchantment became more and more dreamlike, until he felt that an endless river of swelling gold and silver was flowing over him, too multitudinous for its pattern to be comprehended; it became part of the throbbing air about him, and it drenched and drowned him. Swiftly he sank under its shining weight into a deep realm of sleep.

There he wandered long in a dream of music that turned into running water
...
I think that would be hard to find no matter how hard we looked.

However... I think there are other musical connections in Middle-Earth; the long, hard, sad journey tugs hard at us, and it is that, I think, that connects with Enya's "Exile". In that sense, and also in the sense that "Exile" is low on synth and high on celtic melody-- and I don't think in this case that the echo hurts either.
Enya has a few things I enjoy trmendously, and some other things that I enjoy much less. Most of the ones I really enjoy are not dissimilar to "Exile".

For me, it is not just any celtic music., but the haunting echo coming from across the hills, that tugs at Middle-Earth for me. And the tug is less from the artist than from the echo, and from the longing. Even Tchaikovsky has occasionally brought me to Middle-Earth... Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and Nutcracker all have elvish moments in them. It's the longing.
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Old 11-20-2009, 04:58 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thinlómien View Post
I can't really explain, but maybe you can listen to this. It's something I have found and associate with Elves thanks to my father, but I find it incredibly beautiful and definitely somehow Elvish (maybe more Wood Elvish than High Elvish, though.) I'm well aware that the song lasts around ten minutes, but it is really worth it to listen all of it, you can do something meanwhile and have it as background music or something, but listen to it!
That's a nice piece of music.

I've listened to quite a bit of Jewish Baroque music (how's that for obscure?). A piece by the French-Jewish composer, Louis Saladin, contains a very nice melody and chorus, beginning in this video at about 03:05.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFkJu9bBiAs
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Old 11-22-2009, 09:57 AM   #19
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Sticking with the Celtic connection, many of Robin Williamson's songs, with the Incredible String Band and solo, have an elvish (or maybe rather 'faerish') feel for me, both the music and the lyrics - e.g. The Dancing of the Lord of Weir on his solo album Myrrh, a story of (quite un-Tolkienesque) elves in medieval Britain taking revenge on a (presumably Norman) knight or baron for kidnapping an elvish maiden.
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Old 12-23-2009, 02:28 AM   #20
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Elvish music is good and all, but of course, it's like fingernails on blackboard compared to Elvis music.
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Old 12-30-2009, 06:24 AM   #21
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Elvish music is good and all, but of course, it's like fingernails on blackboard compared to Elvis music.
I've heard of this book called Return of the King: is it in any way related?
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:00 AM   #22
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Elvish music is good and all, but of course, it's like fingernails on blackboard compared to Elvis music.
In the movie, am I the only one who hears Aragorn say "He needs Elvis medicine?"
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Old 12-30-2009, 10:31 AM   #23
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I should perhaps put it on record that my post was a reply to a spammer post now deleated that expressed a great appreciation for "Elvis' music"...

It was hilarious.
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Old 05-12-2010, 02:34 PM   #24
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I just discovered a band called Corvus Corax.

This music is awesome and could fit into a number of places in Middle Earth. But one has to listen to appreciate it- any description of mine won't do them justice:

Corvus Corax "Filii Neidhardi"
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Old 05-13-2010, 06:44 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eomer of the Rohirrim View Post
Is there a basis to the ubiquitous association with that 'ethereal' kind of music, not Enya in particular.
It might not say "ethereal music", but I can't ignore the feeling from the rest of the text that the ethereal-ness of the elves would also be in their music.

Gildor:
Quote:
‘Listen! They are coming this way,’ said Frodo. ‘We have only to wait.’ The singing drew nearer. One clear voice rose now above the others. It was singing in the fair elven-tongue, of which Frodo knew only a little, and the others knew nothing. Yet the sound blending with the melody seemed to shape itself in their thought into words which they only partly understood.
Quote:
Before long the Elves came down the lane towards the valley. They passed slowly, and the hobbits could see the starlight glimmering on their hair and in their eyes. They bore no lights, yet as they walked a shimmer, like the light of the moon above the rim of the hills before it rises, seemed to fall about their feet. They were now silent, and as the last Elf passed he turned and looked towards the hobbits and laughed.
Hall of Fire, Rivendell:
Quote:
Frodo began to listen.

At first the beauty of the melodies and of the interwoven words in elven-tongues, even though he understood them little‘ held him in a spell, as soon as he began to attend to them. Almost it seemed that the words took shape, and visions of far lands and bright things that he had never yet imagined opened out before him; and the firelit hall became like a golden mist above seas of foam that sighed upon the margins of the world. Then the enchantment became more and more dreamlike, until he felt that an endless river of swelling gold and silver was flowing over him, too multitudinous for its pattern to be comprehended; it became part of the throbbing air about him, and it drenched and drowned him. Swiftly he sank under its shining weight into a deep realm of sleep.

There he wandered long in a dream of music that turned into running water, and then suddenly into a voice.
Lothlorien, Caras Galathon:
Quote:
Haldir knocked and spoke, and the gates opened soundlessly; but of guards Frodo could see no sign. The travellers passed within, and the gates shut behind them. They were in a deep lane between the ends of the wall, and passing quickly through it they entered the City of the Trees. No folk could they see, nor hear any feet upon the paths; but there were many voices, about them, and in the air above. Far away up on the hill they could hear the sound of singing falling from on high like soft rain upon leaves.
EDIT: Huh, I already had posted one of these quotes above.

Well, at least I'm consistent...
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Old 05-13-2010, 02:12 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andsigil View Post
I just discovered a band called Corvus Corax.

This music is awesome and could fit into a number of places in Middle Earth. But one has to listen to appreciate it- any description of mine won't do them justice:

Corvus Corax "Filii Neidhardi"
I agree. Awesome.
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