Experiencing the Music of the Ainur

- Comprehending and Conceptualizing the Ainulindalë in the real world

Ever read Dante Alighieri’s La Vita Nuova?

That passion. That love. All the emotions in just a few cleverly-constructed sentences.

Transform that text into music and you get Patrick Cassidy’s Vide Cor Meum; and you might just start to comprehend what the Music of the Ainur may have sounded like.

No discords of Melkor. At first.

Just all the Ainur signing in unison before the seat of Ilúvatar – the glory, the majesty, love and subtleties of nostalgia.

J.R.R Tolkien’s  The Silmarillion opens with the Ainulindalë, one of the most beautiful and complex creation tales ever conceived.

Creation scenes are both simplistic and highly-complicated to comprehend.

Visualizing an imaginary world with all its characters, creatures and fantastical locations to the real world is a difficult task in itself. Trying to do the same in relation to the creation of that same fantasy realm is near impossible.

But the vast imagination of an author is still bound by the limits of the physical world: thoughts and concepts which arose from real-life experiences.

The result of such an endeavour has been attempted in the following 3-minute video. I’ve edited the music and visuals together, in order to give my own perspective on how I interpret the Music of the Ainur: with all the feelings and atmospheres conjured up when reading Tolkien’s text.

I hope you enjoy and share … :)

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33 thoughts on “Experiencing the Music of the Ainur

  1. If that isn’t the opening to the Silmarillion tv series …

    Thanks for sharing and doing this. This is astounding.

    And P.S. No PJ, please. ;)

    He is one of the most talented directors we have but this is not his strong ‘suite’.

    • Hello Marcel!

      Glad you liked it (and thanks for sharing it with your followers – truly appreciate it :) ).

      As to PJ directing, it would be interesting to hand over such a project to someone else and see what they come up with. Then again, my primary fear would be the sense of possible discontinuity between the two Trilogies (by Jackson) and an adaptation of The Silmarillion by someone else …

      • Not quite sure whether discontinuity would be the problem here ;)

        The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion are three completely different books. _Not_ doing them differently doesn’t do them right, I am sorry to say. And with him and Tinseltown in the background the Silmarillion would be a disaster, imho.

        However, I’d be glad to stand corrected :D

      • “Tinseltown”? Haha! :D

        Though I have to say I agree regarding the discontinuity. It wouldn’t essentially be a problem. This is, of course, if we ever get to see a Silmarillion film …

  2. Beautiful! I can easily picture images and music like this as part of a film based on the Ainulindalë. I liked and favorited on YouTube!

    What a challenge that would be though, for a composer I mean. To take such beautiful and beloved texts and not only compose themes (which would be vitally important), but also orchestrate them. I’d love to see more artists take The Silmarillion and compose musical works based on it, similar to what Martin Romberg has been doing: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLB6A88CFF4F6AE8F2

    If they do ever make films based on the Silmarillion I hope for three things pertaining to the music. 1: That it would be very operatic (even more so than LotR). 2: Fit or have similarities with Howard Shore’s LotR/Hobbit soundtrack (with some of the themes and ideas like the Weakness and Redemption line). 3: That I could be involved somehow. I can’t really sing, but I would love to play violin! :-)

    • Hey Andrew, you are absolutely right in stating the enormous difficulty for any composer (even Howard Shore) to try and “reproduce” the kind of music that would make Tolkien’s text any justice.

      (In a way, it’s one of the reason’s I would rather prefer The Silmarillion is never adapted – be it film or TV series. At the same time, my fan self would disagree)

      Thanks for the link you provided on Martin Romberg – some really fascinating compositions :)

      • Glad you enjoyed some of the songs in that playlist. :-) His Namarie is my favorite.

        Even though I would consider myself more of a purist, I’d love to see many different films be made based on The Silmarillion by many different filmmakers over several decades, similar to how we’ve seen many different superhero remakes and series over the past several decades. There’s not one definitive “Superman” series or film (well, some may disagree), but many that are all unique and different from each other. Because I think the worst thing the Lord of the Rings films have done (which sounds really weird because I love the films) is overpower the book. Whenever I go back and re-read passages it’s hard for me not to imagine the characters, places, things as pictured on screen. The films are so well done and so successful I can’t look at a piece of LotR inspired art without also envisioning the scene in the film. So that’s why I’d love to see many different adaptations of The Silmarillion in many different mediums whether it be as a play, radio drama, opera, orchestral work, film, or even TV series. That way there wouldn’t be ONE set of films to rule them all. ;-)

      • I like your idea about different films for The Silmarillion, directed by differen people. It could offer something rather unique – which feels altogether connected and vast at the same time … :)

    • Thanks for your comment :) Re: Terrence Malick, I mentioned him and his film both in this post and the description on YouTube. He certainly deserves all the praise ;)

  3. This is absolutely gorgeous! Something like what I had imagined when I read the Silmarillion. To me, the most gorgeous way of seeing a creation mythos! Great job!

    • Wow, many thanks Tiffany. I too have to say that although the text is something quite indescribable, the video still manages to capture my own feelings whenever I read that chapter. Glad you liked it too :)

  4. The forming of Arda was what I envisioned when watching this a few years ago too: youtube.com/watch?v=lkUBECRoAwM

    And I first heard Vide Cor Meum” in Hannibal (2001).

    Another guy theorised a while ago that “authentic” music of Middle-earth could be recreated by using fractals to represent waves, rain etc. and convert them to midis: elvenminstrel.com/tolkien/chaosmusic.htm

    Sorry to include so many links! The final one I wanted to share is what I actually believe is one of the closest representations of Elven music is from a project by Jessica Butler: elvish.org/gwaith/j_butler_2.htm
    I get visions of Vinyamar and Tirion, almost as if she were a real elf who could make images of what she sang about appear in the minds of listeners. :)

    • Hey Amy, thanks a lot for your feedback (and the links!) :)

      Some very interesting discussions there especially the fractals concept.

      The link you provided me to The tree of Life is actually where I got some of the shots for the video. And you are right, ‘Vide cor meum’ first appeared in the Hannibal film, then in Kingdom of Heaven.

      Jessica Butler’s music is wonderful, thanks for providing the link.

      It’s quite a fascinating, if difficult, process to try and visualize (and create) the themes of the Music of the Ainur the way Tolkien wrote them :)

  5. I like both suggestions, but IMHO what’s needed is something that hits faster and harder, and is majestic, sonorous and a little bit…strange. Something like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kya45OICwIw

    Hit it at the 5:30 mark if you just want the chorus – or listen from the beginning if you want a good musical description of primal Chaos.

    Do I need to mention that there *is* a disruptive interruption in the next section, as the title character makes his appearance? :-D

  6. I’m sorry that I’m too late to see this, it sounds pretty cool. Couldn’t you post the video with the audio removed (assuming it was the audio copyright had it taken down) – I’d still like to see what the visuals were. And, once that was done, you could just tell us what part of the music (“Vide Cor Meum” I assume) to play during the video – then it can be up to each person to get a hold of the music.

    Alternatively, you could post it somewhere other then Youtube (which seems to get the lion’s share of just and unjust copyright complaints).

  7. It was inspired of Tolkien to have a creation by music.

    If any composer is equal to rendering the Ainulindale as music in this world, I think it would be Handel: he had the genius to write music with the combination of beauty, strength, power, tenderness, pathos, grace, majesty and endless variety described.

    The Sil really is incomparable.

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