The Four Elements: Behind-the-Song

Before we get started, you’re more than welcome to view the sheet-music to follow along with.

Grab it HERE!

Alright, let’s go…


I’ll start with the “Water” movement/section. I wanted to find a way to represent flowing water, so I assigned the violas eighth notes, having them only play two notes per chord. This was my attempt at having water go back and forth. On top of them, I put the two violins playing a basic melody, to having a more calming effect (it is in a minor key to start with though, so I don’t know if that qualifies as relaxing). At measure 9, that’s where a distress call from “Air” comes in, asking for help to escape “Fire”, as it was rapidly consuming him (fire needs oxygen [air] to burn). So, I still have that same melody play, along with the “flowing water” played by the violas, and give the cellos and piano a more urgent rhythm to signify a plan of action. At measure 17, that’s when Water starts to move, hence the different theme, but I still have the violas play their 2 notes per chord, but this time using half notes.

The next section is called “Earth”, which starts at measure 39. This section is supposed to represent Earth observing Water as it rushes to the spot where Fire is. I gave Earth a more upbeat theme, and aimed for a more waltzy-feel. I still can’t write waltzes to save my life, but this is at least an attempt (I’ll keep trying Leora! [ https://www.musescore.com/lmweinreich ]). I start the two violins with the pizzicato technique, wanting to find a way to represent little pebbles that are strewn across Water’s path. To make sure Water’s presence was still known, I gave the “flowing water” theme from the violas to the second violins (two notes per chord with eighth notes [dotted, but still eighth]). I realized though that having the second violins represent Water and Earth at the same time could cause some confusion as to what they’re supposed to really represent (perhaps mud 😉 So, I gave the regular eighth notes to the piano (two notes per chord). At measure 45, I decided to bring in the heavier Earth. To represent bulky boulders, I gave the lower strings the melody. I thought that their sound would do lovely to represent a certain heaviness. As for the violas, I didn’t know what to do with them. So, because this is in ¾, I just gave them the beat.

The second to last section is called “Fire”, which starts at measure 67. For this, I tried to represent the fire as something good and bad. It various from a minor chord, to a major chord. Fire isn’t only death and destruction, but also warmth and life. When fire destroys something, it paves something new to take it’s place. So, I have the constantly changing chords from happy to sad to try and emulate that. I also gave the treble clef of the piano notes that are all over the place. This is supposed to represent the idea that fire can’t and won’t control itself naturally. But the bass clef is more or less a way to show that other forces outside itself can control it (hence the constant quarter note beat). At measure 70, you’ll see the violas and cellos going crazy with sixteenth note scales. The scales themselves aren’t supposed to mean anything, but rather, the crescendos and decrescendos. Even though Musescore can’t play them, and they just barely play on Garritan, this idea is supposed to work if ever played by real musicians. These are supposed to represent the “breathing” of the fire. The crescendo is the Fire inhaling, while the decrescendo is the Fire exhaling. Also, when a fire is given more oxygen, the bigger the flame is. So, it only makes sense if we have the louder dynamic represent the bigger flame.

At measure 96, things start to slow down. This supposed to represent the Water slowly taking out Fire. At measure 104, I decided to give the bass and piano two eighth notes, followed by a quarter rest to try to represent a beating heart. Or rather, the life of the fire. The violins are playing the same death theme, with the exception of the first violins playing an octave higher. Because the Fire is being taken out by Water, I gave the violas their “flowing water” theme that I started back in the beginning. Granted, they are now playing quarter notes (instead of eighths), but this is more or less a way to show that Water is losing parts of itself trying to extinguish Fire (due to evaporation). Then at measure 114, Fire gives out its last breath (heart beat). I was going to have it transition to quarter notes, then half notes, followed by a whole note, then nothing. But I decided to settle on a sudden stop.

The last section is called “Air”, which starts at measure 115. At this point, I had run out of ideas, so I just gave up on it. Sorry, nothing special 😦

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