Sunday Song: Niobeth

Still reading, I’m afraid. I’ve got something full o’ substance planned, and if all goes well, I’ll be able to write it up tomorrow. It has got Ed Yong in it. I cannot begin to tell you how pleased I am about that.

In the meantime, since many of you seem to be enjoying songs, I figured I’d share one of my favorite finds.

This may be one of my favorite things ever. I love the song itself, I love the video, I love the feeling it leaves me with. I think I want to spend the rest of my life with it, although it’s probably too early to make that kind of commitment.

What say you all?

Saturday Song: Hayley Westenra

If I don’t get some reading done soon, there won’t be any Los Links. So I’m going to throw a song at you and run. I found this whilst spelunking YouTube for new-to-me music, and it surprised me. I’d somehow assumed from something else I’d stumbled across that her music was kind of light and pop, but no – we’ve got this gorgeous, dark, classically-influenced delight:

Right. This is your cue to talk about the music you love.

Oh, Yes. Yes, This Makes Me Happy

Yeah, so I wasn’t having a good night: noisy neighbors, totally blocked, gloomy about various and sundry, just about to give it up as a bad job and go straight to bed. But, y’know, I’d got YouTube pulled up, and there was that Tristania song I hadn’t heard in a while, and then an Epica song I’d never known existed, and then, and then… Long story short, I ended up on a gallop through some new symphonic metal. I’ve discovered a few new bands I believe I’m falling desperately in love with. And then I found this:

I love Tchaikovsky. I love metal. Combining the two has made me a very happy Dana indeed. I even got some writing done. Amazing what an infusion of fresh music can do for the creative process, isn’t it just?

This is life, people. It may suck sometimes, but it certainly has its moments. And sometimes a moment is all you need.

RCPM for Beginners

Right. So I’m meant to be doing a crap-ton of work tonight, but to hell with that for the moment. I’ve got a bottle of Roger Clyne’s own Mexican Moonshine that’s been sadly neglected, and some of you haven’t experienced the Peacemakers. This is not to be borne. So let’s have some official cantina videos, then, shall we?

This is one of their signature songs, Jack vs. José. I wish I could find a better copy, but it gets the point across and includes all of the relevant bits:

Note the traditions: taking tequila shots from the audience and borrowing a straw hat. That’s my Peacemakers. And when you see it live, it is magic. Simply that. For a taste of what it’s like and a glimpse of my Peacemakers tattoo, see here.

This next video was posted by Sithrazer, and is very much my sort o’ thing. Most of my music is actually metal from Nordic lands. This one has the special distinction of being a Finnish metal song that involves Mexico and tequila. I had no idea such a thing existed, and I am loving it:

Delicious! And Suzanne got us a bottle of Resposado, so we are set. This is why I loves me my Suzanne, amigos. She is just that awesome. Between her and Sithrazer, I am in singing sweet shape.

So this is me, my darlings, raising my glass to all of you and saying, “Salud!


Seattle Has Finally Learned to Count in Spanish

Yes, I know, it’s been over a week since I said I’d be putting up more pics from the Peacemakers’ show, and I’m sure you’ve all just been dying waiting.  Here they are:

Now they’re getting it!

Allow me to do my part to convince my fellow Seattleites that you should, indeed, wear a straw cowboy hat:

Mexico, May 2006

I wear a straw hat now.  Straw hats are cool.

And yes, that is the Peacemakers’ logo tattooed to my shoulder.  If you wonder why, just go see one of the shows.  Then you’ll understand.

For Roger: Disco Ball

The rapture happened, my darlings.  Well, for me.  Well, rapture in one sense, anyway.  After an early evening in with the new episode of Doctor Who (and what better evidence that this is, indeed, the Tribulation than the fact that we now have to wait two bloody weeks for the second part of this two-parter?), my friends and I headed out to the Peacemakers concert.

It.  Was.  Fantastic.

But it’s the Peacemakers, so those of you who know what kind of show the Peacemakers put on already knew that.

I’ll have plenty more pics and gushing a bit later, but I wanted to post Roger’s disco ball first thing.  He loved that thing.  So here it is, in all its glory:

Disco Ball at Neumos
Roger and Nick with Disco Ball Overhead
Peacemakers con Disco Ball

And, amazingly, video in which both sight and sound are relatively clear:

Have I mentioned lately that I love my camera almost as much as I love the Peacemakers?

If there’s a better way to spend the end of the world, I can’t really think of it – unless, of course, it’s one of their Mexico shows.  But we wouldn’t have had a disco ball there, so perhaps this worked out for the best.

Fossil Freeway Redux

So last year, remember, one of the first adventures we engaged in was a little jaunt along the Fossil Freeway.  What?  You don’t?  You don’t recall every single word I’ve ever written?


Well, go read that post, then.  And then click this link and listen to the song “I Am A Paleobotanist,”  because yea, verily, it is teh awesome, and you all deserve a chance to get your science geek on with rock and roll.

And for extra science singing madness, if you haven’t already, don’t miss Christie Wilcox singing “Extinction’s a Bitch.”  Then immediately go follow her on Twitter, because if she hits 2,000 followers by May, we’ll get more songs!

(Tip o’ the shot glass to @Laelaps.)

(And yes, for those who were wondering, I don’t expect you to recall every single word I’ve ever written.  It’s just that the opportunity for melodrama was knocking, and I answered the door thinking it was Jehovah’s Witnesses.  There I was, expecting entertainment… le sigh.)

How Music, Math, Architecture, and Goosebumps Combine

Right at this second, I’m sitting in silence.  It’s merely because I’m waiting for my Blind Guardian CD to copy into the computer so I can play it, but it’s tough going – while I know in mere minutes I shall have music, the quivery anticipation is combining with my natural abhorrence of silence to make me a little fidgety.

The CD-Rom drive clicks open.  I put the CD away.  I hit play.  And an orchestra takes me up and we’re soaring.

There went my hair.  I feel my scalp prickle.  Later, when hearing a particularly poetic verse or an unusual juxtaposition of instruments, I might get chills, lose my breath, find my fingers faltering on the keyboard as sound transports me from this world into theirs.

Turns out you can tell a lot about a person’s personality by gauging their reaction to music:

Los Angeles, CA (December 7, 2010) Most people feel chills and shivers in response to music that thrills them, but some people feel these chills often and others feel them hardly at all. People who are particularly open to new experiences are most likely to have chills in response to music, according to a study in the current Social Psychological and Personality Science (published by SAGE). Researchers Emily Nusbaum and Paul Silvia of University of North Carolina at Greensboro asked students about how often they felt chills down their spine, got goose bumps, or felt like their hair was standing on end while listening to music. They also measured their experience with music, and five main dimensions of personality: extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, and openness to experience. Of all these dimensions, only openness to experience was related to feeling chills. People high in openness are creative, curious about many things, have active imaginations and like to play with ideas, and they much more frequently feel chills in response to music. 

Hee.  That’s me.  That’s Brian Romans, too, and I’d imagine it’s a lot of you, my darlings.

But that little article’s a mere warm-up to the other delight Brian found us.  Prepare to think of music in a way you may have never thought of it before – as math and architecture:

WHILE auditing a musical composition class in 1940s Paris, Iannis Xenakis showed his work to his instructor, the great composer Arthur Honegger. “This is not music,” Honegger informed the young man, and he was right. It was architecture.

At the time, Xenakis was working in Le Corbusier’s studio, calculating the load-bearing capacity of concrete for low-income housing. His interest in music, and his recognition that music and architecture were both manifestations of mathematics, impelled him to see the geometric figures on his drawing board in terms of sound – and to set them in musical notation.


 Xenakis’s breakthroughs in music and architecture were deeply intertwined. Asked by Le Corbusier to design a pavilion commissioned by the Dutch Philips Corporation for the 1958 World’s Fair, Xenakis began by considering the internal acoustics, and realised that the optimal design would be based on hyperbolic paraboloids.


The concept, first fully explored in his orchestral piece Metastasis, was to construct the composition on the musical equivalent of the Philips Pavilion cables: straight lines intersecting to define sweeping curves. In place of cables, Xenakis used glissandi, lines of rising pitch each assigned to a different instrument. In both the pavilion and the musical composition, he was “interested in the question of whether it was possible to get from one point to another without breaking the continuity”, he later said.

Remarkable, no?  Most of us are vaguely aware of the math-music connection, but I doubt many people could look at architectural drawings and see literal rather than metaphorical music.  Though, if you’ve ever read a book called Spaces Speak, Are You Listening? you might be a bit more prepared.

Oh, and for those wondering if, oh, say, geology can also be made music, the answer is yes.  Yes, it can:

Mt. Etna is Singing

I love this kind of thing, love seeing disparate things brought together, seemingly unrelated entities merged into a seamless whole.  It makes the world fresh and fascinating.

It even gives me goosebumps, on occasion.

Blind Guardian: Sing Me Stories

This concert almost went the way of Epica: if I’d had a choice in the matter, I would’ve blown it off to write instead.  Thankfully, I have friends who kept me from making that mistake.  And so, on Monday night, we went to have stories sung to us.

Blind Guardian, Showbox at the Market, December 6th 2010

Blind Guardian, you see, is the metal equivalent of a bard.  They tell fantastic tales.  When I went to see them with Leaves’ Eyes all those years ago in Phoenix, I’d been startled by the fact that Hansi Kursch didn’t do the normal front-man thing and just babble platitudes to the crowd and introduce songs.  No, he wove everything into a tale we became part of.  Became something of a novel, that night did.  This night, it was a short story collection.

And I knew it would be a good night when Hansi gave his bandmates some gentle ribbing over their World of Warcraft obsessions, got the crowd roaring, and then turned aside to one of his mates and said, “I know how to motivate people” in an arch-comic tone that brought the house down.

Then they reminded me why they are one of my most favorite bands.

Hansi Kursch

Cameron Lee’s the one what done it.  Many years ago, he introduced me to Blind Guardian by way of an album called Nightfall in Middle Earth.  Back in those days, I couldn’t stand Tolkien, hadn’t even heard of the Silmarillion, and barely knew good heavy metal existed, much less mythic, epic, relentless German power metal that could transport you to other worlds.

There are some albums that harrow the soul.  They become your spirit and purpose, cycle endlessly through your brain, transport you to a different realm at odd times of day, and refuse to let you go even after you’re left sweating, shaking, changed.  This was that album for me.  They’d written the soundtrack for my novels.  My main character moved to this album.  I wore out the mylar on that tape before I’d even had a chance to pick up the CD for myself.  I’d never heard anything so intense in all my life.

Hansi getting intense.

Nightfall In Middle Earth even changed my perception of Tolkien.  Up till then, I’d considered him a pretentious bore whose books were impossibly dense.  After, I decided there had to be something to him.  I picked up a copy of the Silmarillion illustrated by Ted Nasmith, and gave it pride of place on my shelves.  So what if I wasn’t yet prepared to truly enjoy Tolkien?  I was starting to get it, and thanks to Blind Guardian, I had an excellent sense of the story.  (The Silmarillion’s still a desperately difficult read, but if you read it out loud, you’ll discover just why Tolkien’s a master of language.  It flows in a way nothing else does.)

I played that album once a week for years.  And it’s been my guide as I’ve stumbled my way through a very complex several years of worldbuilding.  When it comes down to it, the theme of carrying on when all hope is gone is very much the theme of my series.

Hansi’s power

I have this habit of pulling lyrics to use as title quotes, guide chapters, outline stories, and encapsulate characters.  Everything that ever needs to be said about the character who is at the center of most every story I tell is captured in this quote from “The Curse of Feanor:”

I will always remember their cries
Like a shadow they’ll cover my life
But I’ll also remember mine
And after all I’m still alive

They’ve been one of my most steadfast guides as I’ve stumbled through the dark.  So you can understand why they mean a little something to me.

A steady hand

So, there I was, a Blind Guardian fan, and this a time when they didn’t come out with an album for a while.  During that time, I got to know their older stuff and got to know my stories better.  Along the line, somewhere, I figured out that who I’d thought was my main character was actually just the main character for the final three books – the person who the whole story arc was about turned out to be someone quite different.  I’m not sure I would have realized that without Blind Guardian, to be quite honest.  They came out with his soundtrack about the time I was ready for the revelation.  A Night at the Opera contained the lyrics that helped me understand him, and understanding him led me to the realization that it’s really been about him all along.*

He’s not just all about A Night at the Opera, though.  It turns out that one of his favorite songs is “The Bard’s Song,” which rather startled me a bit.  But it’s a beautiful song, and a good one for someone who’s lost very nearly everything but still managed to survive it all, and so it became something of a theme.  That’s one of the reasons I’m delighted Blind Guardian plays it nearly every concert.

Relatively sure this is Marcus Siepen, playing Bard’s Song

Bard’s Song Too

Years have passed.  Other musicians have come along to inspire me: I got addicted to Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, which led to a story about Mexico; there’s Epica and Kamelot and Leaves’ Eyes and Nightwish and too many others to name, all of whom have had something to contribute to the stories.  Blind Guardian will always hold pride o’ place, though, for being true epic storytellers. Without them, I doubt I could tell the stories I do now.  They influenced my thinking hugely at a critical juncture.

I’ll always be grateful for that.

But enough o’ my babble. Here are the final few photos I wanted to share:

Got a groove on
Eerie light

Final Bow

Truly a night to remember.

Now, some of you may not yet be Blind Guardian fans but may wish to become so after all this.  So let me provide you a few songs.  First, if you ever plan to attend a concert, you will need to have one song memorized so that you can sing along.  Here’s “Bard’s Song.”

Works its way right into your brain and stays there, doesn’t it just?

Here is the song that quickly became my theme: “Nightfall.”

When I heard that song the first time, I knew Cameron Lee had given me something special.

And, finally, my favorite Blind Guardian song of all time, “Thorn.”

Now, go thee and see them in concert.  You won’t regret it.

(*For interested Wise Readers, the entire lyric outline shall be posted at A Slight Risk of Insanity.  For those who aren’t yet Wise Readers but would like to be, email me at dhunterauthor at yahoo dot com.)