The Creation Song in Magician's Nephew
This morning I woke up with Lisa Gerrard's Now We Are Free from the movie Gladiator in my head. (I am sure that had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that we finally officially announced the new forum yesterday. )
I've never actually seen Gladiator but I've known the song for years, and it reminded me that I've often thought that the filmmakers will need a male singer to do something like Gerrard's vocals (sung in a made-up language she has used since she was a child to talk to God, according to Google) for the creation scene in The Magician's Nephew... and that it will still be very, very difficult to pull off.
In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it. The horse seemed to like it too: he gave the sort of whinny a horse would give if, after years of being a cab-horse, it found itself back in the old field where it had played as a foal, and saw someone whom it remembered and loved coming across the field to bring it a lump of sugar.
Pretty tall order for any singer.
I think it's a bit easier when you start blending in the vocals of the Stars: sweeping, overwhelming choral music with lots of soprano seems like the way to go there.
What music comes to your mind when you read these passages in MN? I think Aslan's song will be a big challenge for the filmmakers, but I don't want them to give up and not even try to include it, either.
Well, Baba Yetu comes to mind... it's actually the theme song for the video game Civilization V, but the lyrics are a Swahili translation of The Lord's Prayer. It has a very lively, yet epic and solemn feel to it, which might fit pretty well. The sudden waves of new voices throughout the song also help symbolize the appearance of new life. (This piece was actually suggested last year in The Lion's Call forum reading group discussion of The Magician's Nephew.)
The Dawn from on High by Dan Forrest also reminds me of the stars singing, besides the fact that the title is also quite appropriate to this scene...
PM me to join the Search for the Seven Swords!
Co-founder of the newly restored Edmund Club! Find it on the Talk About Narnia Forum!
signature by aileth
To me it always sounded more like that soprano, Lothlórien-ish song, but I really like the idea that @Cleander brought up of Baba Yetu, because it's such a joyful sweeping song that I could really see creation happening to it:
Think of this: The creation of life is God's ultimate physical expression of His creativity– that moment of creation, from the rising of the mountains to the first seeds bursting forth is an intensely emotional picture. I have great hope for this scene.
Oooh gosh, I've always thought, ever since I first read The Magician's Nephew (at the age of 7!!) and was absolutely blown away by the creation scene — "Wow, that would be THE most AWESOME scene for a film, but it would be almost impossible to do it any kind of justice!!!"
I hadn't heard Now We Are Free or Baba Yetu before — great music, but to me a bit too tuneful for Aslan's creation song, which, as @Rose has reminded us, had "no words" and "hardly even a tune". Also a bit too much percussion, not that I mind that normally! It just sounds a bit too "human" to me, if you like, not otherworldly as I imagine Aslan's song to be.
The Dawn From On High I also hadn't heard before and have just been listening to bits of it (I don't have time right now for the full 40 minutes)... woah, now THAT is absolutely amazing (thanks, @Cleander!). Still maybe not quite what I would imagine for Aslan, but definitely something very, very special.
I honestly can't quite fathom how a composer (not to mention the film-makers) could really capture this whole incredible scene when it finally gets made — well, let's hope it does — but it'll be exciting to find out...
"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."
I think the trick will be to make it sound unique. High sopranos singing choral music absolutely makes sense for the stars, but it's also pretty standard for fantasy soundtracks. That being said, having Aslan be the main voice would definitely make it sound different. I'm thinking something like an acapella version of some of Bear McReary's choral bits in the Outlander soundtrack but with a very low bass like Patrick Page as the lead. His songs from Hadestown are not what I think it should sound like, but are an excellent example of just how low his voice can get.
If there is orchestration, I would like if they use some instruments that are not typically heard in symphonies. Instruments like the erhu and hurdy-gurdy are not utilized very often and would make it stand out.