C.25 - (Unfinished) "Night of the Red Moon"

Composed: 2011 to 2012

     Ah! This piece is of great uncertainty. This was one that I retrospectively placed on this list, as I never actually completed it, yet I had worked on it to a great extent that it merits a discussion on this list. Chronologically speaking, this was my first large ensemble piece (I started writing it in 2011 long before "Into the Forest"), which I remember first thinking of in my downstairs room at home at night, staring out of my window and playing around with a very generic harmonic progression that would later become the groundwork of the chapter ‘Dance of Rain’.

     However, the first brief chapter ‘Dark Foreshadowing’ (oh, what originality!) was fully written in 2011 (such an extensive passage as this required the whole year!). The ‘TC’ text following each title is something I don’t quite remember the meaning of, but it seems to simply state that this chapter is completed, so perhaps it translates to ‘Totally Complete’.

     After rummaging through my possessions on a trip down memory lane, I came across a notebook that contained a written list of chapters that I had planned for this piece. It contains no date, but I would suggest it is from some time in 2011 as it is surrounded by school notes from Rodborough. You could pick up on how serious the list was because of the included word 'Alpha'. This list tediously planned out each section's subtitle, key, theme and duration as well as instrumentation as follows:

Figure 1: The first plan for "Night of the Red Moon" from a 2011 notebook

     In April 2012, it would seem I had updated chapter list in a word document. This update separated the piece into two parts, each with six chapters as well as some changes to the subtitles, shown here:

Figure 2: The second plan for "Night of the Red Moon" from a word document dated 21st April 2012

 

Night of the Red Moon – Chapters

Movement  1

  1. Dark Foreshadowing     1 min

  2. Dance of Rain               1.5 mins

  3. Banquet of the Merry     2 mins

  4. Catastrophe                   2 mins

  5. The Aftermath               1.5 mins

  6. Solemn Greeting           1.5 mins

 

Movement 2

  1. The Moons Gaze           2 mins

  2. Desperate Flight            1.5 mins

  3. Beneath the Mountain   2.5 mins

  4. Peak of Misery               2 mins

  5. A red Sighting                1.5 mins

  6. Prairie of Sacrifice         2.5 mins

 

 

     Oh the originality of these titles makes me cringe. I would later write out a full short story to accompany these titles which I would then work off of to score the piece:

 

Figure 3: The short story for "Night of the Red Moon" from a word document dated 5th November 2012

Night of the Red Moon Story

Part 1

Dark Foreshadowing:

The sun has set, a solemn array of clouds sprung along beside it giving a crescent reveal of the Red Moon. All seems close to a regular rhythm, but there is a distant sound of thunder rolling slowly towards a small town located by a grand mountain range. There is the sense of fear as the thunder is fond of a relentless and on-going disturbance of the village as it makes its arrival with the start of the catastrophic night.

Dance of Rain:

The first drops begin to plunder the town in the start of a monstrous fight for survival. The clouds engulf the remaining night sky in darkness and the storm increases its velocity and strength as the rain falls heavier and bringing with it the dismal atmosphere of dread. The storm climbs to its peak and a wisp of thunder clashes with an almighty chord with the rain continuously plummeting around its path. We follow the path of the rain as it dances its way out of the clouds and towards the town that still resides motionless to what it about to take an event. Road-side floods begin to occur, but they are swiftly defeated by small trenches that act as barriers against the roads.

The thunder continues to clash and rumble the night sky, and the rain only increases its ferociousness against the town. The true evil is nearly ready to be unleashed.

Banquet of the Merry:

Even though the grim of the storm looms over head, the residents of the town see adequate to keep the host for an annual banquet on celebration for the Summer celestial act. The dances of waltz are played passionately for the dancing of the townsfolk, as they manage to dance away their thought of the storm.

However, the fury of the winds grows and evidently the evil is prepared to strike. Slowly and with great suspense, the dark remnants of the Red Moon allied with the thunder take hold, and smash through the windows of the town hall.

Catastrophe:

The winds and rain sweep throughout the hall, pillaging and laying each monument in ruin. The winds continue to swirl about the residents as they are snatched away by the storm and within seconds the hall is vanished. One survivor scurries out as quick as the lightning that strikes ahead and makes a rush for the mountain cave that lays close to the town.

On his quick journey, he plunges through floods, witnesses the death of a family in a collapsing house, and calls a close encounter with lightning. He does, eventually, manage to reside inside of the mountain cave.

A great wave climbs up through the town, bringing with it a grand striking chord of defeat and pulls the town down river. The town is no more, and the storm stands calm but remains company.

The Aftermath:

With confusion, the man steps out to what remained of the town, cautiously walking past the small amounts of rubble that were too heavy for the currents and hydraulic action. There are a few moments where the winds give a quick swoop of majesty across him to knock him down, but it seems to be a mockery of him.

It is a very slow and grim event to witness; the complete removal of everyone you knew, and he wanders for a short while before returning to the mountain cave, which was originally banished from anyone’s passage, but now there would behold no rules.

A Storm of Thunder and Wind:

Suddenly, the winds return and blow the man back against a remaining stump of a tree. The rain splutters back and thunder clashes once more, meaning to finish its work and defeat the last man. He runs back to the mountain cave, but the winds follow him through it. There claims a long struggle between the man and the winds as he climbs the stairway towards the summit of the mountain.

The Lightning begins to strike out segments of the mountain, in attempts to collapse the structure onto the man, but the attempts are too weak – however there are the causes of some avalanches. The man manages to crawl himself out onto an outcropping crevice on the Cliffside, and here begins a short battle between the man and the winds.

Swoop after swoop, the man fails to act in his great confusion and panic. The winds knock him down to the ground and as the rain and thunder strikes, an opening in the clouds arises revealing the sight of the Red Moon, which shone of the purest red anyone would see. He stares in horror, and then the lightning strikes his outcropping, making him plummet to the sharp rocks below.

Part 2

Amidst the Ruin

The Storm has moved on to a different location to destroy, but it is still night time – now close to midnight and the red moon is still shining grimly in the central region of the sky; a faint shimmer can be derived from it as it emits a cruel evil to the world below. The man had survived the treacherous fall, without the storm knowing, and as he awakes, he is met to an interesting suspicion.

He searches around the village, but only to be met by disappointment at each discovery. He finds a picture frame laying amidst the ruins of his town, and in it happens to be a view of his family – now they are gone. There is a slow silence, and then he holds it close and fills his hunger of revenge. He takes notice of the storm swerving in the near distance, laying waste to yet another village, and he starts his march towards it.

Marching to the Fray

He takes a slow step towards the storm, still holding from his wounds of the fall and the devastation in his heart that reduced his reality. But he is determined; more than anyone left in the world, to be rid of the evil.

The journey takes a great deal of time as he marches to the town that the storm is currently laying waste to, but he is met by a straggling evil on the way.

To Flee the Moon’s Shadow

A darker shadow lays in his path, the shadow of the red moon itself as the ground takes on the ominous glow of the moon and begins to engulf him. However, he sees his chance and escapes with all his speed down the path to the village. There are a few obstacles on his path (The most of which being rubble and debris) but he surpasses them with no fear. The shadow of the moon is fast on his heal, destroying the land behind him to a massive gorge.

 

     You will immediately note the departure already from the original chapter titles. The story was also unfinished, only containing three chapters for the second part, and I chuckle at the outstanding "narrative" *cough* that is taking place.

     Nevertheless, 'Dance of the Rain' was completed in 2012, although I started it earlier in 2011. Originally, the passage between bars 45  - 57 was not written, and the music instead flowed directly from bar 44 to what is now 58. I remember adding this little segment to add some more flavour to the already bland piece, though, this little segment appears to add even more blandness with sequences reminiscent of "C.3".

     'Banquet of the Merry' was also completed in 2012, and is as cheesy as a waltz can get. You can note the similarity between the sequence used here and the sequence that appeared in "C.3" (again!), likely a coincidence as this sequence is one of my now most despised clichés. Here was my first use of instruments to represent characters; the oboe and bassoon were two people dancing, in particular the bassoon being the main character as noted in the story above (and you can see this later in the fifth chapter 'The Aftermath'). Cliché after cliché, we get to the 7/4 bar, which personifies the storm getting closer to the town hall. This occurs again with a 10/4 bar and 13/4 bar, increasing in tension (oooh! Spooky!) as the music becomes increasingly dissonant.

     Then something bizarre happens – 'Catastrophe'. This was also completed in 2012 whilst I was spending lunch hours on Sibelius on a library computer surrounded by a swarm of students noisily conversing and shuffling. This was the most chromatic music I had yet written (this still being before "Into the Forest") and it is rather extreme.

     The opening four bars for cello and contrabass work around contrary motion and are supposed to construct suspense by personifying the storm finding its way into the town hall. Yes, it fails disastrously. Then at bar 134, all hell breaks loose. I recall composing this chapter madly, writing whatever I could come up with and sticking to it – this was supposed to be incredibly dissonant to reflect the narrative. I remember calling upon a friend to check the obscene harp writing for this chapter, and much to my surprise, they stated it was playable (which I must now disagree with!). Outside of my unrealistic harp writing, I don’t recall much else other than I actually still like this chapter!

     Bar 158 is intriguing, as at this time I had not yet discovered Holst and his miraculous The Planets which would later become my favourite set of compositions. Yet, in this bar, it seems to be inspired by the conclusion to Holst’s Mars, the Bringer of War, albeit in a far more generic sense.

     By bar 162, the second part of this chapter begins with a delightful syncopated motif in the lower strings. Looking back, I adore this little motif and might explore it in a future work. Nonetheless, this second part descends into chaotic madness which I can’t even comprehend what went on in my mind as I originally scored.

     The fifth chapter – 'The Aftermath' – was also completed in 2012, very quickly after 'Catastrophe'. This segment was inspired by Stravinsky’s The Firebird in the 'lullaby' passage, which was a piece I had then recently (re)discovered thanks to Fantasia 2000. The use of solo bassoon here is cringeworthy, as I was influenced by Stravinsky’s opening to The Rite of Spring to place the bassoon to its highest C. Anyway, the tedious tonic – submediant progression is embarrassing me too much, let’s press on.

     The sixth and unfinished chapter I stopped working on during December 2012, 'A Storm of Lightning and Wind', was in two parts – respectively two storms, one of lightning, one of wind. 'The Lightning', as you would easily guess, puts the storm to music by sudden accented dissonant stabs. 'The Wind aloft the Mountain', the second part of this chapter, was going to feature the contrabass slowly rising from its lowest note all the way up to its highest note to signify our main character ascending the mountain. The contrabass did this by following a 7/4 motif and starting up a semitone on each repeat. On top of that I wrote a few sporadic melodies and slowly built up the accompaniment, adding the violas plucking all open strings and the bassoon with its cheeky staccato semiquavers.

     Enough with the wall of text, here is the unfinished score:

     As to why I never finished this chapter, I cannot remember, but it seems odd for me to not finish this final chapter for the first part of this piece (although, it is probably best I didn’t). And that is that; my first ever extensive orchestral writing which led on to "Into the Forest" a few months before the end of 2012. As to why this piece is not listed before "C.20" is because I was still working on it after I had finished "C.20"

Reminiscence written on 11th May 2016

Last updated: 20th October 2018

© 2019 Jonathan Shaw