Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Stefaan Himpe - Fairy tale for piano solo

Fairy tale for piano solo

It's been a while but I finally found some time to write, practice and record a new piece. All things music have been on a break for a while now, and I'm glad that I can take a break from taking a break.

You can download the piece from my soundcloud account:

So... what do we have here really? 

The piece started as a sad ending theme for a video game. It was never used for that purpose and so I decided to rework it into something longer. Maybe it's interesting if I tell you how I think about the music, bar by bar. (Then again, maybe it's not ;) Feel free to skip the explanations. Most of all, I'm also curious how much of this I will still recognize in a year or in 5 years. I may even come back to my description and update it as my insights change.)

Bars 1-4: The piece starts off quite melancholic (which was a requirement for the sad ending of the video game). This part is written in C minor key, a key that is traditionally regarded as the key in which to express a declaration of love with lament of unhappy love, sighing of the lovesick soul. Clearly someone is thinking back about something.

Bars 5-8: The beginning is repeated with a slight variation in the accompaniment to avoid making it sound the same twice. It is as if the accompaniment adds more detail to the memories as they are repeated.

Bars 9-12: Suddenly the melancholic fantasy is interrupted with a little waltz. A short distraction? Or perhaps a related memory, a sudden free association. 

Bars 13-20: The distracting thoughts are pushed away and make place again for the fantasy. As the fantasy repeats itself, the melody notes again add more details to the memories. By coloring the melody using notes outside the scale, the color of the memories changes. Little imperfections that keep the story alive as it were.

Bars 21-27: The fantasy continues. The fantasizing person remembers and overthinks some of the consequences that resulted from whatever happened in bars 13-20.

Bars 27-32: Stress level increases a bit. Temper gets a bit heated. 

Bars 33-34: Some soothing thoughts manage to calm down the person.

Bars 35-38: There's our distraction waltz again. It's barely interesting enough to keep our thoughts away from what happened.

Bars 39-48: The fantasy is resumed, but in bar 45 it suddenly takes a different path. The person has second thoughts about how everything really went back then. For a while, things are remembered as perhaps more festive than before (bars 47-48).

Bars 49-52: These finish the first fantasy and prepare the music to change into a different key of f minor. F minor is the key in which one traditionally expresses deep depression, funeral lament, groans of misery and longing for the grave. No doubt the passage that follows will have a sinister side to it.

Bars 52-85: A buildup of emotions, a waterfall of notes follows. In the left hand we have a sad but very static accompaniment with typical f minor notes. In the right hand, in bars 53-64, we also have very dissonant chords which work to create a somewhat uneasy feeling. In bars 65-76, the dissonant chords are now replaced with a locrian motif that further increases the uneasyness in the music. In bar 74, the deepest note of the piece (a very low "d") is reached. Then bars 77-85 repeat the same techniques but a fifth higher and with many more, and much faster notes, which adds even more drama to the already dramatic state of mind of our fantast. The fifth higher brings us in the key of Bb minor, which traditionally is used to express feelings of mocking God and the world, discontented with itself and everything, preparation of suicide. Quite restless and dramatic indeed :)

Bars 86-91: The deepest darkest memories subside and make place again for the sweeter earlier theme.

Bars 92-113: The earlier theme is repeated, but again the colors have changed to something more bitter-sweet. This time the chords in the right hand sound much more yearning than in the beginning of the piece. As if the darkest memories increased the feeling of having lost something valuable and make it more painful to think back about what was lost.

Bars 114-117: Eventually, the person snaps out of his trip through memory lane and we hear the waltz playing again.

Bar 118: The piece ends with some bitter sweet ending chords. A near happy end, and time to get back to work ;)


  1. A great composition, with fascinating analysis ! Best wishes, Paul