It’s funny the things you can find once it occurs to you to look for them. I’ve loved Anne McCaffrey’s Pern poetry for years and years, the snatches of verses that, in context, are the songs of the Harper Hall. In the course of the January Dragonflight group-read, it occurred to me to do a search on Amazon to see if Masterharper Robinton’s harpers have put out any CDs–and they have!
Well, not exactly. But Tania Opland and Mike Freeman worked directly with Anne McCaffrey to put together two CDs of music inspired by Pern, much of it using the lyrics described in the book.
Can I just pause for a moment here to say how completely amazing that is? I mean, Harper Hall songs! Really!
I admit I was a little nervous on purchasing…this could, after all, go very badly if I didn’t like how the songs were done. Fortunately, I like the music quite a bit overall. It has a very acoustic, folk-song style that feels eminently appropriate to the context. You couldn’t possibly play Menolly’s or Robinton’s songs on an electric guitar. They need pipes and strings and though I have no musical expertise to recognize exactly what instruments are being used, this feels right. Amazon tells me it draws from a variety of musical traditions, and I can most clearly hear the Celtic.
Most exciting, unquestionably, is that we get to hear songs I recognize from within the novels. I had to buy both albums because favorite poems/songs were split between them. The Masterharper of Pern has more of the traditional ballads and, obviously, Robinton-related songs. Sunset’s Gold has songs from Menolly, heroine and songster of the Harper Hall Trilogy.
Some of the tracks are instrumental, and I must admit those were not as interesting to me, though some do relate to book events. But that’s me–I almost always prefer words in my music.
The Masterharper of Pern has a number of the songs that figure in Dragonflight. I particularly love “The Duty Song,” which runs through all the key roles within Pernese society, and how all must come together to serve their unique purpose. “Fighting Thread” is also excellent, about the dragonmen rising to fight their ancient enemy. That one sticks in my head somehow. Most exciting here is “The Question Song” which is suitably spooky, if maybe not quite the soul-capturing mystery described in the book (but what could be?) I have mixed feelings about “Lessa’s Ride.” Parts of it are lovely, but I would have liked a melody that was more epic and heroic, considering the subject. On the other hand, “March of the Wings” gives me that more stirring melody I was looking for. You can just feel the dragons soaring up in formation.
Sunset’s Gold has many of my favorites from the Harper Hall Trilogy, brought to life very satisfactorily. Menolly’s “Run!” song is suitably toe-tapping, and “Brekke’s Cry” is eerie. I would have liked “The Little Queen” to be catchier somehow, but it’s been growing on me. I really enjoy “Gather Day,” which very much captures the festive atmosphere (and the lyrics refer to bubbly pies!) “Sunset’s Gold” and “Sweet Sea” aren’t ones I particularly remember from the books, but they’re beautiful songs in their own right, and would be even if they weren’t part of the larger context.
So, all my friends who read Dragonflight and especially those who liked the poetry…you really, really have to explore these CDs!
Musician’s Site: http://opland-freeman.com/pernmusic/index.htm