Monthly music with actual knowledge: Lifeforce

Hello, everyone. It’s the Editor here. I thought I’d pop up in here and say a quick hello to you to wish you all a merry start of December!

No, actually I had this conversation with Aaltomies yesterday. He told me that he had picked the Music of the Month and linked it to me. Then he presented me the question whether or not I’d like to write something more “in-depth” about the song? I thought that he meant whether or not I’d like to edit a more in-depth text about the song, which was confusing in itself (because he doesn’t usually ask me what I’d like to edit, nor is he supposed to). He just replied my confusion with the words: “Just listen to it, and you may understand why I might not get as much out of it.” So I clicked the link he had provided me with and listened to it.

This was the link provided to me. I agreed immediately to try my best to write something sensible about it, as a violinist, music enthusiast and a composer myself.

The song is set to motion with rhythmic strings, which immediately bring us to a tense situation: something may be wrong, and the music is anticipating for something to happen. It is not a theme for a battle that has already begun, but instead a theme for the moment before the leap, the tension before a fight, the atmosphere before battle. The melody that is brought to us majestically only further indicates this, as do the long sounds to support it in the background. The first part of the music grows into a grand climax and reaches an ending. It is escorted to the next part with a much softer take on the strings. The transition between these two parts is short, but it serves its purpose. Upon arriving to the next part, which repeats the rhythms of the intro and the ambiance of the wind instruments, we are still waiting for the actual event, but the situation is steadily drawing closer. The threat – whatever it may be – seems inevitable to us, and since we can’t do anything about it, we wait for it with every intention to beat it to pulp as soon as it shows up.

The melody appears in the second part as well, but it varies slightly from the first one, and the dramatic ladders of the flutes on the background serve to further build the tension. The melodies intertwine, combine and detach from each others to become something more than they were before. There are two main melodies that are constantly interacting with each other, getting inspired by each other, and affecting the other. The tones of the instruments are military-like; unforgiving, cold and exact, as there is no room for romance or tenderness here. This is something you can’t take lightly. This is where all that matters is at stake – no more, no less. Just everything that matters, or ever mattered. The march of the instruments brings us to the end of the second part, where the instruments suddenly jump a lot lower into a softening diminuendo.

The next part where the strings take over almost takes you by surprise with its softness. Just when you manage to read the words “there is no room for romance or tenderness here”, the music jumps into the atmosphere that could be nothing else than the sweet emotions that it seems to ignore. It could be – if not for the wistful tones that the high, singing violins and the serene cellos paint for you. The war is not only about what is in front of you and who you kill: it is also about those you leave behind, those who will miss you, and those who will remain in your heart forever even if you happen to fall to the battlefield. This short, fleeting part seems like a tribute to the emotions of all those who ever loved in a world that tears the lovers, friends, companions and families apart just so that they can die in a war.

But those emotions can only be allowed to linger in your mind for short moments, just like they are in this song. The theme of suspense appears back, as if it had never really been gone, just lurking in the background, and chases away any naive thoughts you may have had of the atmosphere here. The low, steady beats of the background instruments support the low melody, which is now much more threatening than it used to be in the parts before. The up-and-down ladders are now high-pitched, serving as the soft cries of fear from somewhere deep within your primal mind.

The transition is there again, similar to the previous one, before just another repeat of the main theme and the emotions it holds within. Everything seems to be the same, but something is still different: you can feel it on your skin, if you listen carefully. You can hear the musicians putting their soul and heart to this last part. All the instruments arrive, escorted by the laddering flutes, to a furious, rhythmical crescendo. Once more they dive low, once more they silence their voices to anticipate the incoming enemy, before they let out their last battle cry. The drums, the strings, the wind instruments – everything comes together in the few last beats anticipating the dark threat ahead.

The song as a whole is a remarkable work of art from the very first seconds to the silence that follows it. The atmosphere it builds lingers so well that you can feel it even after you have stopped listening and the only thing you hear is the sweet nothingness. The notes are filled with strong emotions and – even more importantly – conveyed with professionalism and passion. I wasn’t worried at all that the song would not impress me enough for me to write about it. The only thing I can be concerned about are my humble writer’s gifts, and whether or not I can manage to find the words to convey the thoughts and emotions that the composer wanted to plant in this song, and how he presented them to his listeners.

I haven’t seen the movie. I have very little knowledge about it, and I actually preferred to keep it this way. It was the song I was asked to write about, and whether or not it lives up to what is presented in the movie is a subject to discuss for the people who have actually seen the movie. If I’d watch the movie, I might have connected it directly to the story told in it. I believe that the best songs hold various stories, and the ones you can imagine while listening to a song are your stories. Thus each song can hold a personal meaning to you.

Now I am going to sidetrack a bit from the title. Aalt told me that I could also write about “how horrible editing my texts has been” (a direct quote) and I thought that I could say a word or two about that.

I had been reading this blog for some time before I was asked to start editing his texts. (I had this theory that he finally got tired of me pointing out the grammar mistakes in the blog.) I have always admired him for being very straight-forward and having the skill to write in a manner that is easily approachable. Personally, I’m not very interested in the design matters, but the way he writes is intriguing, and each time I read his texts I find myself learning something new on a subject I never thought I’d touch.

The editing has actually been very interesting. It’s intriguing to see the patterns that repeat themselves in someone else’s text, and also to see those patterns lessen once you point them out many times enough. I feel privileged for being able to read the texts as the very first one.

Out of all the things I’ve mentioned in here, I’m going to mention two of the greatest things I have learned about editing. The first thing is that I never edit when I’m tired. I tried it once and everything was suddenly incomprehensible. So not that again, thank you.

The second thing is that sometimes when I skim through the older entries of this blog, I notice a grammar mistake that I am certain I fixed (but which the author decided, for one reason or another, ignore when I pointed it out). Thus, my editing style has turned from [*he, not she] into something between [consider revising this sentence] and [change *this*. No, seriously, do it. I mean it. Just do it] depending on how important I think the change is.

I have enjoyed my stay, I hope you have as well. And it just might be that I have a Christmas present to you when this month is getting close to its end.

Best regards,
The Editor.


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