April 2021 – Writing is Rewriting (Part 2)

Welcome to this month’s diary entry. I had planned to post this entry last Saturday but life got in the way somehow, and I even had to cut some material that was going to make it into this month’s diary. Still, there is some interesting I want to show you this month and it has to do with the process of rewriting material, so let’s get to it!

3rd Time’s The Charm

I have mentioned in past diaries that I try to avoid having to rewrite material I have uploaded as much as possible, simply because the cost of opening that door leads to infinitely readjusting old material, and as the project advances it just becomes unsustainable. And yet sometimes it is precisely what the doctor ordered. A good case is that of Renly’s leitmotif, which is now in it’s third iteration.

Renly’s original leitmotif had some things I liked a lot and somethings I was so thrilled about, but overall, I enjoyed the leitmotif in the context of the three Baratheon brothers. Renly’s main divergence from the Robert and Stannis was the fact that it was in A major instead of a minor, and there are some good reasons why I wanted it that way. The main reason is that it is much easier to create something welcoming and “shinny” in major than in minor. With Robert a seasoned warrior and Stannis a expert grinder of teeth, Renly is but a charming and dazzling young man, so the original theme was set in A major (fig. a).

Fig. a – Renly’s original leitmotif in A Major

But as it happens sometimes I made a mistake by not double checking the assumptions I had when I wrote the leitmotif. Somewhere in my mind it was obvious that all three Baratheon brothers are knights, when in fact, Renly is not a knight. This means that the knighthood motif (fig. b), represented by a triplet was very misplaced in the motif and needed to go.

Fig. b – Knighthood

I caught this mistake early this year and reworked the leitmotif to do away with the triplet while keeping as much as possible. The end result was a theme that kept the flashiness of Renly’s original theme at the expense of not sounding as close to Robert’s leitmotif (fig. c), which is something that bothered me a little, since Renly is supposed to look a lot like a young Robert Baratheon.

Fig. c – Renly’s modified leitmotif minus the knighthood leitmotif

But it wasn’t until I recently started to work on the Baratheon bastards seriously that I couldn’t justify anymore having Renly’s leitmotif in A Major and not a minor. A pivotal moment of “A Game of Thrones” comes with the reveal of the true fatherhood of Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen, whose leitmotifs are all in E Major. The dichotomy of the minor scale representing black hair and the major scale representing blonde hair is something I had in my mind for the longest time, but Renly’s A Major leitmotif kept throwing the whole idea off the rails. Eventually I bit the bullet and reworked Renly’s leitmotif in a minor, since consistency of Baratheon = a minor is more meaningful to me than Renly’s charming nature = A Major.

This third (and hopefully, final) version of Renly’s leitmotif (fig. d) relies more on orchestration to convey his dazzling but shallow persona, but it does for a more consistent and coherent set of leitmotifs, which takes precedence over pretty much anything else.

Fig. d – Renly’s final leitmotif now in a minor

Reweaving A Tapestry

So, why the fuzz over a simple rewrite?  Because when weaving a tapestry with leitmotif it is hard to replace one single thread without having to do a major rework of the whole thing. Renly’s leitmotif connects to other leitmotifs, most important of all Loras’ leitmotif, which is in C Major, and the amount of acrobatics I had worked on to fit them together meant that now I had to throw most of it away. This is a theme I had never finished, as every time I sat down to work on it new ideas came and went, but overall many hours had gone into tuning everything so that it came off nicely.

I want to clarify what this means in case you aren’t very familiar with music theory. Basically, all you need to know is that A Major is not harmonically close to C Major even though they can be connected using some cool tricks composers have used for centuries like pivot notes and secondary dominants. This use of the distant keys of A Major and C Major effect was something I was happy to have as to me it reflected Renly’s and Loras’ difficulties in sharing their love while keeping it a secret: their secret love was a fight that paid off for them in spite of its inherit challenges they faced. But now all of this was out the window and as such I needed to rework their love theme “The Rose Knight and the Stag” from the ground up. The good news is that a minor and C Major are basically the closest to tonalities could ever be, so I changed gears and reworked the idea from struggle to secrecy, which also works very well in context.

The new goal was to create a love theme from the point of view of Loras that hinted at a deep love for someone without it being too on the nose. Taking advantage of the fact that a minor and C Major share the exact same pitches, slipping in and out Loras’ leitmotif to insert a modified version of Renly’s leitmotif was the way to go. It took almost time to rework their love theme and have it finished in almost a personal record for myself; so at least I’m happy about that.

As Loras is the character from whom we see their relation, “The Rose Knight and the Stag” (fig. e) begins with Loras’ leitmotif (light blue notes) only to hear a version of Renly’s leitmotif (dark blue notes) in a rhythm that completely obscures its melody, but is still recognizable upon close listening.

I’m not alone in thinking that Loras has one of the most memorable moments in the whole series when he recalls Renly in A Storm of Swords – Tyrion II:

“When the sun has set, no candle can replace it.”

Loras Tyrell
Fig. e -The Rose Knight and the Stag

I hope you enjoyed this month’s entry! See you soon!

Maester Ludwig

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