Silmarillion Writers' Guild Minstrelsy and Music


by Alassea

Ainulindale by Alassea

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Excerpt from "The Greatest of Gifts"

by Michiru

Daeron is set to sing first at the feast; there is such noise of speech that Macalaurë, sitting beside Maedhros and fidgeting with his harp, frets that the crowd will not hear Daeron’s music; few of the Noldor give much credit to the widely unknown Sindarin upstart.

At the first note, every Elda within range of ear falls silent. There is such a scope, a depth in sound, in Daeron, whom Maedhros had deemed young; it is they who are young. Daeron sings of the long March, of hope in fear and new beginnings, of old friends lost and new friends found. And when at last the song drew to a close, no other sound was heard. The applause Macalaurë earned in Aman had been deafening, always; here, under the evening sky, none stirred to acknowledge the song’s end.

Slowly, people begin to breathe, murmuring in wonder; someone mutters that the Noldor never knew music before now.

Macalaurë stands abruptly; Ambarussa, more alert than Maedhros, is at his elbow, drawing him away. Curufinwë- and Tyelcormo- move to follow; Carnistir appears and hauls Maedhros to his feet.

There is a growing swell spiraling towards Daeron, who seems mystified by the sudden attention, the accolades being thrown at him. Carnistir does not fight the current; he is unaffected by it, shoving aside those in his path and persevering by sheer force of will, until he and Maedhros have reached Tyelcormo and Curufinwë, swept them up in their wake, are dogging Macalaurë’s steps. Macalaurë has broken away from Ambarussa, is striding resolutely in to the surrounding dark, seeming deaf to Ambarussa’s soft, persistent calls. Carnistir stops abruptly, and they stand, five of the six remaining sons of Fëanáro, watching the last vanish as the Sun sets and Daeron, by popular demand, begins anew.

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Excerpt from "Star's End"

by Keiliss

……….[Men] live life at a different rate, far faster, and yet still far too often tie their minds up with the mundane details of life. And yet, they are warm and generous, good friends, implacable enemies. They value a joke, a tall tale, they love a song. And I have songs aplenty.

I sang one that night. I do that sometimes when I sit alone at night under the stars, I play a little music to blend with the dark, to make the world feel smaller, closer. I took the little harp from its carrying bag, wrapped in its cloths, and played runs and answers for a while before looking for a tune that spoke of the night, of the animal sounds, of the strange, sad silence of a wood returned to its original inhabitants and neither they nor the trees with any idea what to do about it. Mostly I played the tree music, the whisper of their leaves, the quiet creaks and groans, the sounds of water being drawn deep.

She was a shape in the dark, huddled deep within her cloak. The only part of her that seemed alive, here, were those eyes, glittering in the dark. She was in mourning, I recalled, not a time for the sounds of loss that crept into my tune, mimicking what I felt around me, the land and the trees calling for their guardians to return. Equally, not a time for a cheerful jig. In the end I chose a traveller’s song, a story of the road. It was appropriate for us both; my road stretched on before me into eternity or until such time as I became careless and took a blade between my ribs, hers was near its end. No, not its end. Its destination.

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"If Daeron Had Sung for Maglor" from "Mereth Aderthad"

by Oshun

Acutely aware that this man was rumored to be as good or better than him, Daeron felt suddenly shy. It had been three-quarters of his lifetime since he had last wondered if he would live up to expectations. It also made a difference to him, no matter what anyone else thought, what this man would think of his skill. His mind went suddenly blank. All that came into his head at that moment was an ancient folk melody. Once in a fit of self-pity, he had indulged himself by writing some heartsick verses to it.

Daeron settled himself into the nearest of the folding chairs and tried a couple of chords again. Then he sighed deeply and looked up. Macalaurë met his anxious gaze with an empathetic nod. He thought that if anyone could understand how he must feel, Macalaurë surely could. Somewhat reassured, Daeron began to sing, softly at first and then somewhat more strongly, still nowhere near full voice.

* * * *

He stopped abruptly, involuntarily shuddering. Relieved that he had finished, he looked to Macalaurë for a reaction. Macalaurë had cocked his head to one side and allowed his lips to part in a relaxed, approving smile.

"Bravo. Well done. Your voice is beyond belief. So clear and pure. I can still hear it in my head and feel it here." He put is hand flat against his chest and did not mask a shiver of appreciation. "You cheeky rascal, you certainly know how to play your audience also, don't you?"

"And you don't?" Daeron scoffed, although still grinning with gratitude.

"Maybe," Macalaurë drawled, eyes twinkling, before his face clouded. "Who was the girl?" he demanded, unashamedly insistent. "Is she still around?"

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Excerpt from "Unrequited"

by elfscribe

By twos and threes they came, the children of Ilúvatar, treading through the warm summer night, glittering like fireflies, silky robes billowing. With gentle laughter they gathered to hear Daeron, the master harper, who, it was said, could charm a song from the wind.

Tall, silver-haired Elu Thingol came, holding his queen, fair Melian, by the hand, their ancient love shiny as spring leaves. They nodded at Daeron, who sat on the dais, hands poised over the strings of his harp, yearning for what they wore so lightly.

Last came Lúthien, beloved of her people, cloud of black hair falling untamed about her shoulders, eyes brighter than the evening star. Briefly, she glanced at Daeron, holding him enthralled. Just for her, he had crafted a new song, laboring long into the night. It must be perfect.

Expectant stillness.

Tenderly, he plucked the strings, releasing a cascade of crystal notes and the crowd sighed. In a voice purer than silver, sweeter than a nightingale, he sang of Cuiviénen in the morning of the world, of shining waterfalls that widened into clear pools, and foamed, flower-laden, towards the sea. There, in the hidden dells the awakening Firstborn touched their own faces and knew they were alive. The gladsome tune changed to a minor key and Daeron sang of a fair maid dwelling by the waters, who had captured a youth’s heart, and because she knew it not, paid him no heed. Overhead wheeled the canopy of stars as he sang of longing and love unrequited until his listeners’ hearts were wounded and their cheeks wet.

He bowed his head, his song ended. A beat of silence, then, a tumult of applause.

He sought her approving glance, but of all those admiring faces, only she looked past him, perceiving another melody from afar.

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Excerpt from "Coda"

by Marta

Númenor that was… She laughed at that thought, bitter sound bursting past her lips. Why did she laugh? To laugh was Tulkas's part; Nienna was she who wept. Their parts seemed reversed of late, somehow, but not wholly; Nienna's laugh was not as Tulkas's had been when he made war before ever the Trees were born. This laugh was tinged with grief, and with disbelief. Nienna remembered those words, Númenor that was, and they pulled the laughter from her.

She had heard them before; they had been part of her Song, before Time, though she had not understood them then. Her brothers had fashioned Númenor as a gift, and at the time she had wept with joy that the Secondborn should know such peace. Was she made complicit, then? Were they all? Had even the One known that things would turn out this way? For if Númenor that was, if that was written into the Song from the Beginning, if He had ordained….

No. She would not let her mind travel down that path. Thought, these days, should not go unchecked.

Instead, she turned her mind to simpler things. The grass was wet from all the storms, and full of color at the height of summer; her dress was sure to stain. It occurred to her how absurd it was to worry about dresses at a time like this, or for one such as her to worry about such things at any time; was she not free of bonds to any body? This dress was no more real than her eyes, curiously tear-free of late. Still, it was a thought, something she could hold to, and all minds grasped at what it could in times such as those.

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Excerpt from "Rise Again From Ashes"

by Independence1776


Some time later, I opened my eyes when someone started singing softly, barely heard over the conversations. I looked around and spotted the Elf seated near the bar, a small harp on his lap. At first, I didn't recognize or understand any of the songs, all of them obviously having been composed since I left Valinor. Then the Noldo started singing the song I wrote all those millennia ago, after the Kinslayings: theNoldolantë. The room grew quiet and still, and I looked around.

Most of the Elves had tears in their eyes, and a couple were openly crying, something which I found both surprising and gratifying, given the age of the song. Eventually, a couple of Noldor sitting at a small table by the window started singing as well. I glanced at my lord, who was looking steadily at me, an unreadable expression on his face. I looked back out into the room, not wanting to meet his gaze.

Midway through the song, though, I finally gave in to the impulse that had been building since the song began. I began to sing, softly at first but quickly growing in confidence and volume. At first, few paid attention to me except those nearest, but my voice carried to the far corners of the room, filled with sorrow and regret. Just a verse later, the minstrel stopped singing, though he kept playing. The rest of the room grew silent.

When I finished the song, I put my head in my arms and wept.

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Excerpt from "Hymn of the Trees and Stars"

by Lady Roisin

“Papa, look.” Daeron furrowed his brow as he tried to focus upon the page of writing in front of him despite the childish voice calling out for his attention. The word he mentally searched for lingered just beyond his reach and the background noise served to only drive it further away.

“Papa, look at me,” The little girl’s voice became more insistant now. “Look at what I can do.”

“Meriliel,” Daeron sighed heavily, resisting the strong urge to raise his voice. He looked up from the page in time to see his daughter jumping upon the couch and disturbing the stack of papers upon it. It was all Daeron needed to cast a withering look the child’s way and point towards the door. His young daughter froze in place before scurrying from the room.

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"A Music Lesson"

by Lyra

A Music Lesson by Lyra

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Excerpt from "Lords of the Light. "

by Spiced Wine

It was close to dawn when Maglor set down his harp. The notes had flowed from his soul; all the anguish, the love, the hate, and lost glory were transmuted into what he called the Noldolantë, the Fall of the Noldor.

And still we fall...there is no end to it. We will fall forever.

...“I will speak of that time, 
Of the choices we made, 
Roads to blood and ruin, 
Innocent dead on our souls, 
White swords in fuming scarlet, 
The fire in us turned black, 
At Alqualondë it darkened, 
Once we were glorious, 
Though none will remember it, 
Our names are limned by sorrow, 
Carved of hatred and grief, 
Only the Jewels held their glamor, 
In those red years, 
When anguish lay behind us, 
And Darkness before us, 
We were the Oath incarnate, 
The Doom opened its arms, 
We wore it like cerements, 
Close as our shadows, 
Now it stood before us, 
And we embraced it, 
Wedded to it long ago, 
The most faithful of lovers.”...

Excerpt from "Swan Song"

by Ellie

Melodies happily alighted from the strings, echoing delicately around him as he strummed and remembered. Soon the rains began, adding the gentle rhythm of a dance and his singing changed to match the once joyous dreams these sounds evoked.

As the skies darkened, the rain fell harder, beating out the cadence of a determined ambitious march. His words flowed chanting, calling forth, charging onward. He moved among the figures rousing them in his mind, summoning them to join with him.

Then the thunder began, rumbling low in the distance like some approaching battle. Reflexively, the minstrel's fingers stabbed and raked across the strings in semblance of a massive army drawing swords and fitting arrows to bows. The surrounding trees swayed in the growing tempest like banners eagerly proclaiming their might and glory. Suddenly lightening slashed wickedly at the sky slaying again and again the kindred clouds from which it drew its strength. Each flash cast the statues' shadows into their own eerie foray upon the earth.

Louder the singer called, striking his harp, rallying the growing bellows of wind through his creations to a polyphony of sound. Rain ripped his garments, lashing his skin, and he found with great delight that he reveled in the glory of this awesome power and the harmonies of the graven images around him - works of his hand!

But then the rain pooled and the mud began to flow about his feet. In cruel desecration, it sloughed around the statues like blood seeping from gaping wounds, draining precious life. The ground shook with the force of the thunder and the searing blasts of lightening.

Music ceased as the elf cast about in dismay at the horrific apparitions appearing before him, nightmares made real invading his mind…

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by Himring

Daeron wiped tears of laughter from his eyes.

‘Who would have thought it? You Golodhrim seem such a stiff-necked, solemn people and, by your reputation, I expected a son of Feanor to be more stiff-necked and solemn than any!’

He sobered.

‘But...indeed, that isn’t the work you’re famous for, is it? Forgive me for mentioning it, but even in Doriath we heard of the Noldolante. I suppose it must be quite a long piece? Would you regard it as discourteous, if, out of professional interest, I asked you to play just a part of it, a section...?’

Maglor laid his palm across the strings. He’d sung the bawdy, rollicking song with a lot of vim and energy—and a completely straight face. Now he flashed Daeron a quick smile and then looked away.

‘I just did’, he said softly. ‘It is all, all Noldolante—because it is I who play it.’

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Excerpt from "Bard Rising"

by Rhapsody the Bard

Who would have known that here, at the end of a road long travelled, I would open this work again, having thought that I had nothing left to entrust to parchment after the passing of so many years. Empty sheets mirror my existence, the last notes reflect a life long forgotten, drifting on the wind. Yet, I feel compelled to state why I started all of this. To whom might read it, my last audience whom I cannot explain all my choices and deeds done. One day I shall come to pass into Mandos, and that person shall find it. Mayhap they cease reading before the last deeds, matters I regret, but cannot make undone. Be brave! Read on! My life is one of hardship, filled with highs and lows, treason and trust, love and loss…

I recall starting this work, but first and foremost, I remember the moment of my creation. Suddenly, this music awoke my senses one by one; from a stir, to being enticed, an arpeggio so perfectly played that once my Feä was wound so tightly, I had to follow it in order to receive more. You see, it was just not the music our ears have grown used to, but music that pierced your soul, stripped you bare down to your core, and in such a manner that nothing would hinder you from understanding your sole purpose in life. Before understanding, Eru sung my feä into being and, during that split second, I was the Music. It was a marvellous experience; so pure it defined me into the smallest of details, a perfect sensation which I sought for the rest of my life. Yes. I do know that if only I would have balanced my thirst for this music with the understanding of my fate a bit more, matters could have turned out quite differently.

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Excerpt from "The West Wind Quartet"

by Himring

‘Maglor’, said one of the people at the table closest to me, ‘that’s Maglor.’

I stared. Actually, all I could see was black hair and a shoulder underneath a magnificent cloak. The rest of Prince Maglor was concealed behind his companions. The landlord partly emerged from behind the group and impatiently waved to me. I understood I was to go on playing. He actually expected me to sing in the presence of Maglor Feanorion.

I adjusted my harp against my shoulder, raised my fingers and opened my mouth. What came out was a jangle of strings and the most embarrassing squeak. The shoulder underneath that magnificent cloak jerked slightly. I felt a rushing sound in my ears.

I tried again and, this time, at least the notes on the harp rang true, but no sound at all emerged from my throat. I stopped again. The landlord frowned. Maglor’s face emerged from behind the back of another noble Noldo, looking at me. Lachenn. I stared at him as a rabbit might look at a snake.

He crossed the room towards me. I felt utter panic, as if I were about to be sentenced to death for the unspeakable crime of massacring a piece of music in his august presence. What he actually did, though, was reach out his foot and hook a stool from underneath the table next to me with his ankle. Then he sat down right in front of me, with his back towards me.

‘Now’, he said and I heard his voice for the first time. I found later on that he could sing flawlessly in a dozen Sindarin dialects, but when he spoke, his Sindarin had a clear Noldorin accent. ‘I’m not here. I’m not listening. Try again.’

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Excerpt from "Nightingales and Starlight"

by Clodia

      I wish I could think of another way to describe grey.

      Grey is the stone of Menegroth, yet Menegroth stone is surely not grey.  For the stone of Menegroth holds no light, fair though it be, and the grey that lingers before me still is as clear as the light of a starlit evening.  Grey is the shade beneath the trees and grey are the pools that ripple in dark woods and grey is the iron that cuts the bough, and none of these are grey at all.  For shadows mean danger and dark water is bitter and blades are perilous omens indeed, but the starlit grey of the evening sky is softer than nightingale feathers when she smiles.

      And Menegroth has fallen now and far behind me be those pools, dark beneath the shadowed trees.  The grey to be seen in the depths of the sea is false as well.  It has no smile and does not dance in Doriath’s serenaded woods.  Her feet are fleet and light as the night and the Moon was snared in her rose-crowned hair, as was the treasury of the sky.  I saw the wings of Wilwarin alight on her brow: brighter than diamonds, fairer than pearls.  She could have taken Menelmacar’s belt for a girdle and yet blazed brighter still.

      Starlight and nightingales.  I always come back to starlight and nightingales!

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Excerpt from "Dark Prince. "

by Spiced Wine

The silver eyes shattered like glass. They held ages of longing, of hate and love, the need to find the one whose blood he bore, whose dreams he dreamed.

Hear me, father, for we come to the bitterest end. Hear me, feel me, know me! Know thy son!

The notes wept from under his fingers, an outpouring from his heart, crumbling the hatred in a willful act of surrender to love. The music absorbed his yearning, his sorrow, even as those emotions became the notes he played, each indivisible from the other; a soul reaching to a soul on the wings of music.

Through the night, through the aether, the mind-song and heart-song flew, across the wild leagues of Middle Earth. It passed over wood and mountain, marsh and meadow, to touch the margin of the land where Belegaer cast itself on rocky shores and the west wind sighed in the silver birches.

There were no words, the words a soul speaks cannot be vocalized. Passionate as prayer they flowed from the harp and into the night, bringing Elrond and his sons from their rooms, Tindómion's mother from her chamber. She leaned against the baluster, pressed one hand to her mouth.

Starlight caught at the tears on Tindómion's cheeks. His burning, weary soul was breaking open, spilling emotion like blood.

And very far away, an Elf turned his head toward the east, the salt-laden air billowing the great black mane of hair across a white face. The sea sighed restlessly, but there was no other sound save that and the moan of the wind over the surf.  

His hands reached for his harp and a flurry of poignant notes fluttered into the wind, his fingers mirroring another's.

Excerpt from "Threnody for the Dispossessed"

by Kenaz

His hair fell about his face like a swath of night, and I remembered how he had looked bent over his harp all those years ago, with his head cocked and his eyes closed, as if listening enraptured while his instrument imparted erotic secrets, hands working over the strings as if bodily pleasure issued from the touch. I had imagined that I was seeing the face he made in his throes, and it had both embarrassed and intrigued me. Later, when I had seen that expression from a more personal vantage point, I found I had been correct. That had been the difference in our music then, as it was now: I had the mastery over words and their shaping while Maglor's raw emotion brought the words to life. With each new tale, each minute revelation, my heart opened to seven children who had been robbed of the chance to be masters of their own fate: here, in reflected joy and refracted memory, was a song of mourning for potential lost and talent wasted... an elegy for those who had fallen unmourned by all, save the one man whose burden it was to keep their memory alive. Here was, at long last, a requiem for the sons of Fëanor, a threnody for the Dispossessed.

Verses took shape, solidified. I committed them to memory, and plucked their counterpoint from my mind. When he began to repeat them, I joined him, and we fell into rhythm with each other, music passing back and forth between us like breath. A duet, after all, is not so different from making love: the give and take, the anticipation, and the precipitous rush toward resolution. We may sing with many people, but we know when we have found the one whose voice blends so perfectly with our own that we are no longer two singers wending separate melodies together, but one voice raised harmonic in love.

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Excerpt from "A Minor Talent"

by Lyra

My tutor sighs. I understand her disapproval, but I still cannot help feeling resentful. For once I am showing some enthusiasm for music. She should be encouraging me instead of sighing pointedly.

Not that she isn't right, of course. It is frustrating, and we'd better stop before either she refuses to teach me further (not that I'd mind, but Father would be very angry with me) or I will have what Mother calls a tantrum. I keep hearing that I am a peevish and rebellious child anyway, even though my aunt Nerdanel says that I am very sweet-tempered and who is a better judge of children, Aunt Nerdanel or my childless tutors?
But of course that sort of arguing isn't getting me anywhere, except to threats that I may not visit my cousins if I misbehave.

My tutor sighs again, louder, and says, "Very well, my prince. Shall we start over?"
She plays the opening scales, which I must have heard about a dozen times today, and begins to sing, "Upon dark waters mirrored were the stars... Prince Findekáno, I cannot hear you!"
It is no wonder that she cannot hear me, for I am neither playing nor singing along, instead staring down at the sheet before me. The notes are clustered impossibly tight, and if I had not heard other people play this tune before, I would assume that it is necessary to have three or four hands in order to manage.

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