The Mountain (Suite)
Time is priceless, indeed, because it exists only in our minds.
Musical Suite The Mountain is comprised of seven parts, untied in meaning and musicality.
The ancient legend rooted in history of early Christianity of Roman Empire is underlying the suite. The action is happening in Egyptian Alexandria as well as modern Alexandria. Conceptually it is retrospective contemplation of a contemporary human, who experiences the events that happened many centuries ago and were captured by the ancient legend. The legend’s events were deeply and colorfully unrolled by N. Leskov in his “The Mountain. Egyptian Story”
The Legend tells about a Christian Golden Blacksmith Xenon, who mastered jewelry, sculptures and other things, was a man who cherished his Christian faith, but not the rituals and vain symbols. He moved the heart of a rich pagan girl Nephoris or Nephora, from Antiochia, enriched her soul with Christian faith and showed her the way in life. And in addition, he moved a mountain into river Nile, which stopped the lasting draught.
Musicality of the suite is descending from such styles as progressive and psychedelic rock. All parts are composed in harmonic minor, which provides the eastern flavor to the music. Keyboard instruments are presented in such abundance as different organs, synthesizers, pads, grand piano, as well as electric piano of Vurlitzer, the keyboards dominate in wide and melodic character. Guitar lines are represented widely as well, from clear sound of Fender Starforcaster to different melodic and echo-like leading and rhythmical lines. The parts are united in their concept, so the entire suite has become a united musical composition from the beginning to the end. Of course, the one cannot avoid sound and psychedelia elements, making the music multifaceted and provide a certain meaningful direction.
Different people have different perception of the same music. I will tell you about the meaning of each part, as I created them, and what I mean by them. So…
The suite starts with the sound of vinyl disc. The same effect has been used to finish the suite, to make the impression of listening to vinyl disc. Just a whimsical wish.
Part 1 The Ghost of Ancient Cities
The part consists of sounds and noises, which provides the illusion of real presence in the city of ancient Alexandria in Egypt. The images of past events arise in mind of the traveler. This experience prompts him to recall the legend of first centuries of Christianity that he had read a long time ago. He becomes the participant and also the witness of the events that happened in this place. The hero is trying to distinguish the truth from fantasy, and to find the true meaning of the event and the legend.
Monotonous sound of the crowd was recorder one of modern Turkish spice markets catching the spirit of the modern east. Gong sounds of different tones are dissolved in the air and symbolize the past events. The rhythmic sound of guitar string and ever-changing amplitude of organ in lower register add tension and prepare us to capturing Egyptian story. The part is finalized by virtual falling to the place of events.
Part 2 Xenon and Nephoris
In this part the listener is witnessing the meeting of Xenon and Nephora and follows the events.
It was the meeting of two opposite world visions. Xenon, a Christian in secret, artist and philosopher, follows something that gifts eternal life by following the law of truth. Nephoris from Antiochia, a spoilt, extremely beautiful, young and very rich widow – something that exploits wealth and beauty to dominate.
It was almost impossible to put this into music. But here I’ve tried to tell about sycamore trees leading on the way to Xenon’s house, melon patches around it, copper stork on the white front, the road down to the river Nile, the river itself, the artist doing his monotonous work in a spacious and cozy workshop, and tired after the long trip Nephora. Their meeting, their dialogue, sudden burst of passion from Nephora and all her womanly ways.
All of this is represented by soloing parts of organ with eastern nuances, followed by guitar. Here the main mean is the melody and its development.
Guitar solo is leading to the culmination of the meeting, it leaves the artist without one eye and will force Nephora to run away in a smoked through and dirty houseboat down the river Nile. All of this will make Nephora think of revenge to Xenon and all Christians for their faith. She is convinced the faith is the reason for all that happened.
To allow the listener to contemplate on the events, the sound of gong interrupts the storytelling and the listener returns to the modern city of Alexandria.
Part 3 In Secret
The gong interrupted the story, and our hero is walking down the city again, following the line of Alexandria Bay. He can hear the cries of seagulls and splashing waters, and realizes that the waves are the real witnesses of these events. They also are looking back into the depth of centuries. They are telling him the secrets of eternal life and immortality, and that all of this is just a vanity of vanities. This music is telling about the meaning of life, about human relationships, about eternal questions of choice of good and bad.
The solo in the culmination, the moment when thoughts are approaching understanding of eternal. It is surrounded by echo and space, expression and simplicity at the same time.
And now we are following with the story of Xenon and Nephora.
Part 4 The Sides of Light and Darkness
This part is based Good (Light) and the Evil (Dark) juxtaposed one against another. The dark side of fable is the plot of revenge thought by Nephora and the pagan establishment of Alexandria. The side of Light is represented by life of Xenon and his readiness to help at first call to all Christians of Alexandria, and even to take responsibility for the Christians who rejected him. This part discovers the images of the pagan ruler, his son Dunaz, pagan establishment and their plot against the Christians. Also, it shows the weakness of the leaders of Christian Diocese of Alexandria, their comic actions. The true faith of Xenon and Christians alike is put as a contrast to the above. The story follows the one from the book.
The contradiction of Dark and Light sides is introduced three times, and is finalized by development of the Light side. The Darc side is presented by broken rhythm of electronic piano accompanied by guitar intervals. It is followed by the eastern organ melody with Lesley effect, followed by guitar.
The Light part is a singing guitar, the sound retrieved from two consecutively united fuzzes, accompanied by string and guitar arpeggios.
Also, the whole part is underlined by the low tone of synthesizer, hardly distinguished in between the base, which confers some tension.
Part 5 Nile Shallowed
Nothing is changing through centuries! The powerful of this world use false pretexts to justify their actions historically. In our story there is such case as well. The possibility of hunger followed by epidemic diseases was always a reason for people’s worry. Especially this relates to agricultural areas where everything depends on river flow.
The possibility of such hunger preceded the time of our story. The risk of hunger made population highly suspicious looking for the guilty ones. The Christians became the target for those attacks of suspicion. Our conspirers used this as a pretext to blame Christians and told then to pray to prevent the draught. It was proclaimed that if their faith is true, they will be able to move the mountain into the Nile to make the water level raise. The time for the public payer was assigned.
This part tells about the anger of local people, who chose to side with conspirers, and shows growing tension of the situation.
Musicality of this part is built on the frame of base rhythm, which is put over the piano and electric piano, slide guitar. Tension gradually grows, then stops abruptly. The notes from the Second Part of Xenon and Nephoris follow with the sound of tremolo-guitar. This is used to show the readiness of Xenon to lead the Christians and save them, or die with them. The music gradually flows into psychedelic part of the Suite presented by slide-guitar and organ, named ‘Christians to Lions!’
Part 6 Christianos Ad Leones!
Everyone know about the way of crucifying Christians on cross. This kind of execution was probably imposed on the ancient thinker and prophet who we call Jesus now. But a few remember that in the times of Ancient Rome early Christians were executed by being thrown to wild beasts, mostly to lions in circus arenas. «Christianos ad leones!» - this was the phrase the conspirers wanted to hear. But this started to turmoil Nephora, who already started to live the new life.
This part is about Nephora’s turmoil and the disaster that seemed to be imminent for the people near Alexandria at that hard time.
Musically this part is built on rhythm of small bells, dissolved in the space, shimmering long sounds of organ and resonating string of grand piano. This music is sewn from psychedelia, and the melody is not as important as the entire atmosphere.
Part 7 Morning Sun Never Lasts a Day
The final part. The words “Morning Sun Never Lasts a Day” open up the symbolism of many elements: converting Nephora to the side of Light, incredible and rare pouring rain in Egypt, which poured the water and provided the sliding of masses of lands from the mountain Ader into river Nile. So the Mountain really moved, which opens the meaning of the words: Faith moves mountains.
I’ve tried to make this part as light as possible, melodic and airy. The flute is summoned to help in the beginning and the end of composition, as well as piano part, string instruments, delicate percussions, and dialogue of organ and guitar.
In the end we hear sound of vinyl disc and needle sliding off.
released June 4, 2017
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