2019.03.07 UPDATE The House of Asterion soundtrack was finished just before the end of February and is now available on Bandcamp.
I managed to follow my plans for the most part. Recently, however, my guitar playing has gravitated towards being angular, noisy, and unsettled, and didn’t sit well with the overall feel of the soundtrack. So some of the intended guitar tracks were worked out with different instruments, while other tracks inherited background guitar drones and swells. Finishing the soundtrack – and especially assembling the accompanying videos – helped me begin to realise the tragedy inherent in Borges’ vision.
In January I signed up to participate in FAWM. Knowing that the challenge was to write fourteen tracks in just 28 days, I needed some kind of structure to help organize my time and song writing system.
Fourteen songs. Fourteen. During December, I finished work on an E.P. based on Jorge Luis Borges’ short story “The Library of Babel” . I knew that the number fourteen was mysteriously connected to the concept of infinity in another of Borges’ fine works, “The House of Asterion.” This philosophical meditation recasts the myth of Ariadne and Theseus from the point of view of the Minotaur. The text returns again and again to the number fourteen. Fourteen. Fourteen songs.
And so I decided to write a soundtrack for “The House of Asterion.”
I spent January reading and rereading the story, passing many hours thinking about different ways to structure my soundtrack. I wanted a single theme that could form an intro and outro for the album. That left twelve other songs to write. After reading around for inspiration on the internet, I decided to compose three groups of four songs:
GROUP I: four tracks drawing loosely from, and freely reworking, short passages from ancient Greek music (these songs would represent four different characters from the story, employing sections from MIDI files very kindly made available to me by Professor Stefan Hagel);
GROUP II: four tracks, written initially on MIDI keyboard, which would employ rhythmic patterns based on the number fourteen – e.g. 5+5+4 or 3+3+3+3+2 or 2+3+4+5 (these songs would represent four different locations or things from the story); and
GROUP III: four tracks or ambient soundscapes involving guitar (these songs would represent four different quotes spoken by, or spoken about, the Minotaur.)
I then went through Borges’ “The House of Asterion” again, writing down the phrases or images that I wanted to use as song titles, and trying to organize them in such a way that the different styles of song writing would be spread evenly across the soundtrack while still allowing me to follow the narrative thread of Borges’ story. By mid-January, this is what I had settled on:
#01 – Theme (Intro) [ANCIENT GREEK MUSIC]
#02 – And the Queen Gave Birth to a Child [GUITAR]
#03 – Mother [ANCIENT GREEK MUSIC]
#04 – The House of Asterion [MIDI KEYBOARD]
#05 – Any Place is Another Place [GUITAR]
#06 – Asterion [ANCIENT GREEK MUSIC]
#07 – Beneath the Sea [MIDI KEYBOARD]
#08 – Above, the Intricate Sun [MIDI KEYBOARD]
#09 – The Other Asterion [ANCIENT GREEK MUSIC]
#10 – Some Day My Redeemer Will Come [GUITAR]
#11 – Take Me to a Place with Fewer Doors [MIDI KEYBOARD]
#12 – Theseus [ANCIENT GREEK MUSIC]
#13 – I Scarcely Defended Myself [GUITAR]
#14 – Theme (Outro) [ANCIENT GREEK MUSIC]
I was relieved when I drew up this track list. It meant that when February arrived I would have, for every track, both a focused theme (the title) and an assigned means for expressing it (be it a fragment of ancient Greek music, a specific instrument, or a rhythmic pattern).
My aim to is to upload tracks to YouTube as they are finished. The tracks will not be written in strict narrative order, although they will be put into a playlist which sequences them according to Borges’ myth. If all goes well, I hope to have the completed soundtrack on Bandcamp on or before February 28th.