About the music
Do you take inspiration from Wagner’s Ring cycle and the use of Leitmotif?
Yes and no. While I am aware of the amount of work behind Wagner’s Ring Cycle, I am trying to purposefully avoid certain features of his approach simply because it’s a different media. Wagner’s music is stage music for a music drama (that is Wagnerian for opera), where there are explicit non-musical elements. Meanwhile this project aims to ditch anything strictly non-musical and have music alone drive the whole experience. Wagner can have Siegfried’s horn call play when he is mentioned by someone else as a reference, but there has been in my view some legit criticism of this approach that ends up becoming a mere display of leitmotifs after a while. My goal is to never call upon a leitmotif just because they are taking part in the scene one way or another, but rather to have all the elements come together into a single context for a specific scene. This constant morphing of the themes is something that I am still refining as it makes following along quite challenging, so for the moment it is all work in progress.
Some music doesn’t sound contemporary: medieval / early renaissance.
Yes, and it is an intentional decision. Assuming the books take place in a medieval / early renaissance setting there is no way I could even begin to conceptualize making music in plain chant and motet styles that I could deem compelling. After a long time, I made the decision to settle for an impressionistic/modern style following the trends of Debussy, Stravinsky, Respighi, Ravel, Holst, etc. This style has the most freedom in terms of texture, instrumentation, harmony, and form; creating a musical landscape is certainly much easier in this style than in any other. Perhaps I will adapt some of the music in the future to fit a formal structure like sonata form or theme and variations but that is far into the future.
How will you write music if the books are not finished?
This is one of the biggest issues I have to contend with. Creating music for a character whose fate is known is much easier than for those whose fate is unknown at this moment. At the moment I have to be careful when writing some leitmotifs lest I write myself musically in a corner if it turns out there is a big secret about their identity that I was unaware of. For this reason, I have a list of characters, places and objects I have in ‘quarantine’ until the last two books come out, which I reckon will be approximately eight years down the road.
What do you think of the music of AGOT?
I think it was serviceable, but little else. In a TV Show you can’t have proper music in the background lest it muddies the soundtrack and renders the dialogue unintelligible, so I am aware of the limitations of writing music for a TV show, still I am fond of it. Also, every time I think of the opening music I can’t help to hear the Song of Storms, so that doesn’t help much.
Who is your favorite composer?
Ludwig van Beethoven, but Ottorino Respighi is a close second.
What software do you use to render the music?
I use Finale with Kontakt to trigger a number of different VTS instruments I have bought throughout the years. I like to work out things at the piano with pencil and paper so a sequencer like Finale with a traditional notation interface makes things easiest for me.
Will you sell/share the music on iTunes or Spotify?
For the moment I don’t have plans to sell any of the music.
Aren’t you afraid G.R.R. Martin’s lawyers will go after you and try to shut down the website?
Yes and no. Copyright law is no joke and I am being as careful as I can with what I am uploading to the web. I’m following legal advice provided by a copyright specialist lawyer (expensive but worth it) and a close friend of mine who works in the music industry to make sure I don’t get in trouble. It’s a fairly complex subject but it boils down to two different concepts: transformative/derivative works and original works. Both the text on the website and the music are mine just by virtue of having written them all (this doesn’t apply to quotes straight from book of course). But the text on the website falls in the grey area of derivative/transformative work as it is based on the world created by George. That means that if I ever tried to publish any text that uses George’s own material I’d be in a lot of trouble, and that is also why the text from this website will never be used for any monetary gains; it will simply sit here on this website as a curiosity. The music on the other hand is a completely original creation for which I have full copyright and I can use it in any way I see fit. That means that as long as I do not ever market my music as the music of A song of Ice and Fire or related to it then it’s fine, it just means I have to use titles that do not infringe on George’s copyrights (and trademarks), so I will never have a piece called “Aegon the Conquerer” but having one called “The First Dragon” is absolutely fine.
I have also been told that there is the very remote possibility that the copyright and trademark holders of the world create by George see this website as a nuisance that somehow conflicts with their interests. Say for example, in a very far-fetched scenario, that they put out a cd of music based on the books and they don’t want it to compete against my website (like it ever could); in that case they could send a cease and desist letter and try to shut it down claiming I am somehow infringing on their copyrights and trademarks and diminishing the profitability of their product. According to the copyright specialist that is advising me that is an incredibly remote scenario but it is still possible in theory. If that ever happens I’d have to fight it out in court but for now I am told I shouldn’t ever worry about it so I don’t.
About the website
Should I be worried about spoilers reading this website?
If you haven’t finished all the books I recommend not going into the Notes of Ice and Fire volume for I will break down the fates of characters, organizations and places. The first volume Music of Ice and Fire is considered safe since there is nothing that deals with individuals, only broad strokes of races and cultures that pervades the whole saga.
There is a lot of information on the website, how should I approach it?
I have included links at the bottom of each page that allows the reader to ‘turn the page’ to the next chapter to create a more traditional approach, but the navigation menu on the top links to all the chapters equally so finding a topic that pikes your interest and diving in is equally as valid.
Why not create a YouTube / Soundcloud channel instead of an old-fashioned website?
I need a medium where I can write long essays on a topic and I find the Wikipedia style format the most suitable for this endeavor. The only reason I am not using a wiki page is because setting it up lies beyond the limits of my abilities so a simple website should be enough for the moment.
How often do you plan on uploading content to the website?
The goal is to have a minimum of one update a month with substantial content, meaning both written chapters and pieces of music uploaded to the website.
Will you add illustrations to the website?
The original idea was to have launched the website with some illustrations in it but copyright issues are problematic. Having contacted artists who have created illustrations based on A Song of Ice and Fire asking for permission to use their art their reply has so far been consistent in that they are not the copyright owners of the illustrations so they cannot give me official permission. I hope to include illustrations in the future by either obtaining some permissions or by doing them myself. I can draw reasonably well but every hour I devote to drawing is an hour I could be working on the music itself so for now the priority is to work on the music and include illustrations in the future.
What’s the swirly thing on the top of the page?
Well of course, it’s the website’s heraldry: an old style bass clef black on white. Ass a bassist myself I couldn’t come up with anything more appropriate for the logo of the website than merging heraldry, music, and a scintilla of my love for the bass.
The frame of the shield is taken from here using a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License, along with other heraldry I have taken for the Westerosi Houses pages made by the user Abjiklam.I think they look fantastic and having a CC license allows me to have at least some images on the website.
I’ve seen some mistakes/errors on the website.
In that case please send a raven to let me know.