If you’ve read Reverie, then you know I can go dark. Way, way dark.  What starts out as a sweet romance turns into something very different in the blink of an eye. But darkness does not exist in a vacuum! Well, maybe it does, I don’t really know, but what I’m getting at here is that it’s not just a matter of creating a nasty character. The words he or she speaks, the surroundings that they’re in… and, in my case, the music that they play, all help to capture the mood.

When I was writing the scene where the McInnes Conservatory Orchestra plays their year end concert, I needed a piece that would:

a.) showcase the horn section, and

b.) help to sustain the creepy atmosphere.

Hmmm…good horn parts and creepy, atmospheric music… Hmmmmm.

Aha! Tchaikovsky!

I wasn’t sure which Symphony until I stumbled upon a really fabulous quote. I fed it, word for word, into the mouth of my conductor, Maestro Gunter Hagen:

The applause dies out as Maestro Hagen takes the stage and walks to a microphone that has been placed in front of his podium. He addresses the audience.

“Tchaikovsky described the opening of his fourth symphony as: ‘that fateful force which prevents the impulse to happiness from attaining its goal, which jealously ensures that peace and happiness shall not be complete and unclouded.’”

Hagen speaks the quote and pauses to let it resonate.

“As you hear the brilliant brass fanfare, listen for the dark undertone and remember the composer’s words: ‘that fateful force which prevents the impulse to happiness from attaining its goal.’”

That quote was my first bit of inspiration for this scene. Then I took to YouTube to find the visuals to accompany it. I found them in a 2007 performance of Daniel Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I watched video for the entire symphony and then distilled it into a few brief images and passages:

The horns are in motion, starting the fanfare alongside the bassoons. In an instant, the trumpets are there, too. Together we create a splintering wall of sound. This is no light little regal fanfare. It is a proclamation of the inevitable darkness that eventually envelops us all.

 The second movement is as powerful in its understatement as the first movement is in its grandiosity. It is ushered in by a single oboe, a nostalgic voice of pining for days long gone.

Maestro Hagen doesn’t even conduct the last several frantic measures. He extends his baton outward in front of him, the way a sorcerer might aim his magic wand. He holds it there, pointed at us, beckoning, challenging us to play to a speed and intensity which even he cannot direct, until the last roll of the timpani and ring of the brass die away into the rapt audience.

It’s as if they are paralyzed for a split second, but then the spell is broken and a sea of people, row after row, are on their feet. They applaud and cheer, hoot and whistle. Hagan points to the horn section. My section. We stand and I bask in the swell of applause that greets me. It’s a good night.

And it’s a good scene! Get your copy of Reverie to enjoy all the eerie, creepy, haunting, dark musical moments!