• Nihil Admirari

Erlking





Hi everybody. Noshi here.


Wow. So, my last post was in October 2019, and this is coming out...some.time.soon.com Yup. But low and behold, this post is about the second Halloween-specific song we've written for the second annual AHS (Read the previous post, if you're lost). Guys, gals and non-binary pals, here we have "Erlking".



Segway. Kind of.


So, my entire musical background is classical, as I've mentioned a few million times. I grew up a classically-trained pianist, choral baritone/tenor and concert band arranger. I took all these practical and theoretical tests and things outside of elementary and high school, and I was just generally a curious little thing who happened to also admire the macabre. (I had this whole goth/visual kei phase that started in elementary school, which I also wrote about.) And one of the pieces I came upon was "Erlkönig", the spelling of which I absolutely copy and pasted directly from Wikipedia.


"Erlkönig" translated to "Erlking" is both a poem by Goethe and the adapted classical piece for baritone voice and piano by Schubert. The Erlking is a German (and/or Danish) spirit recognized as the King of the Fairies in its darkest form. It's known for stealing children and speaking human language. In Goethe's poem, a Father rushes on horseback taking his sick son to town, and as they dash through these eerie, damp and dark woods, the figure of the Erlking begins to chase while trying to convince the boy that leaving his Father to join him and his daughters was a great idea.


Schubert adapted the text into one of his darkest arias for a single vocalist depicted four of five characters: The Father, the Son, The Erlking, and the Narrator. The fifth character, The Horse, was implied by the relentless rapid-fire accompaniment of the piano. Each of the vocal characters were in a different range with a different style and emphasized various musical elements of the composition. In eight verses, we basically have: Entry Into the Woods, Persuasion of the Erlking, Offense of the Erlking, Arrival Into Town. At the end, the boy dies, succumbing to the Erlking's reach before the Father could reach his destination.


Our adaptation was written in minor sonata form with the following technical elements:

  • Introduction - A very short band-only intro displaying a few main themes: Guitar (mimicking the piano melody) and Drums (mimicking the piano accompaniment).

  • Exposition - The main theme (inclusive of the "chorus") of the song taking the opening verses of Schubert's music composition and adapting it to fit a melody loosely inspired by the English translation of Goethe's poem. It has the most recognizable parts.

  • Development - Various sections taking pieces of the Intro and Expo combining it with related ideas and taking the audience on a whole musical journey, most of which includes the vast majority of lyrics inspired by Goete's poem.

  • Recap - A repeat of the first part of the Exposition (the "chorus") leading to a very short outro followed by a sing-speech I completely forgot to do at the end of both sets at AHS2. Oops.


Here are my (lengthy) lyrics:


(Exposition separated where musical changes happen)


I set aflame-

My devices rot in pain.

And so I beg.

Don't take my heart away.


Though tightly a grasp-

Lay still a child,

For the Elfking's nearer.


Turn back the seasons,

And hold your memory near.


-


There is a death in the family.

But Mother knows garments of gold bring thee.

Not yet sweet lad hidden in the family.

What pretty games shore flowers bloom.


-


I've tried. I've cried. I've told you.

I've sold you the promises he bore.

The Elven King - he breathes.

Look around you and hear the ruin.


See here. His daughters. See there.

His sons whom from all his gloomy deeds,

His house on ricochet.

not from loins but still it lies - believe me!


-


You, in the night were lead.


What will it take for the masses to arise?

You shackle me to my medium,

But hail the man in white!


(Development)


Shout at the Devil.

The devil inside me.


When I wake in bed and I cannot feel my legs,

It won't be the end of me.

My Mother. My Mother.


Redemption. Redemption.

The truth will set you free.

Redemption. Redemption.

Say "hey"


-


I heard on the battlefield...

There were the cries of the youth,

And I could just let it go.

But this is what we've all come to recognize.

This might just be what life is gonna be.


I said I went and saw on the battlefield.

There was blood and death,

'Cause you all just let it go,

But he comes through the trees - You gotta

Listen to me. This can't just be what life is gonna be.


No! No!!


(Recap)


I set aflame-

My devices rot in pain.

And so I beg.

Don't take my heart away.


Though tightly a grasp-

Lay still a child,

For the Elfking's nearer.


Turn back the seasons,

And hold your memory near.


(Here's the German sing-speech I forgot after the music ended.)

"In seinen Armen das Dorf war tot."

(The town he held in his arms was dead.)


Oof. It's so much longer than it actually plays out live on stage. But I mean, Schubert had 8 verses, and Goethe didn't exactly write a haiku. So, there we have it.


Our story was a bit different. Basically, a bard was out in the forest and caught a glimpse of the Erlking chasing after the Father and Son. Deciphering what was happened and realizing he had been seen, he went into town his own way to warn all the townsfolk. But as he tries to speak normally and tell the story, he realized the Erlking had cursed him, and the only way he could explain what happened was in a sung story form. He goes in and out of the Erlking's control as he tells the story but also gets frustrated that people only see him as a performer, thinking his warning was just an act. And by the end of it, the Erlking turns takes everybody in town with him.


If you read all those lyrics, you'd realize that the bard only calls him either the Elfking or the Elvenking. That's because "Erlking" is a loose enough translation to not have a universal direct meaning across regions.


As some of you know, everything I write has an alternate meaning. This one is a bit obvious, but it is a commentary on the power to speak to the masses and the power of the masses to define your speech. When someone is popular enough to be heard, sometimes what is heard is hardly what they are saying, and the consequences can be dire. Boop.


I'll stop there. Wasn't that fun?

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • SoundCloud
  • YouTube
  • Bandcamp
  • Spotify
  • iTunes
  • Tidal
Nihil Admirari, Alt. Rock Band - New York, NY - noshi@nihiladmirari.com