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Forever Gentleman

 Forever Gentleman
Summary:Write music to accompany novel/film
Deadline: 28 February 2018
Date Posted: 15 November 2017
Details: Nathan’s Midnight Concerto

$10,000 in Cash Prizes
for Original Music
Compositions will be used in the e-version and future film/tv productions of the historical (1869-70) novel Forever Gentleman

Scenarios to write for:

1. Nathan’s Midnight Concerto
He sat down at his piano, savoring the wonder of creating music with his fingers—something he had never expected to do again. He flexed his fingers above the keyboard, stretching them as he readied to begin playing. Without any particular composition in mind, he began improvising a melody of triumph and liberation in the key of D Major. He imagined the sound of a trumpet heralding a great victory to a kingdom from afar, soldiers singing joyously as they returned home bloodied and wounded, having delivered their people from a great enemy and great oppression. As he replayed the theme a second time, he envisioned violins repeating the triumph an octave above, accompanied by woodwind arpeggios—the news of the great victory carried throughout the country, far and wide. He then switched to the minor harmonic and softly told the story, in music, of the dread and pessimism that had fallen over the land when the enemies had first surrounded the kingdom. In the bass register, he quietly portrayed the darkest hour when death and enslavement appeared a certainty. As the people united, the melody gradually progressed into the treble clef.
Then as the conflict began, the tempo increased mimicking the battle that ensued. Mixed within the main theme was another melody in counterpoint, telling the tragic story of fallen heroes, sacrificing their lives for the people they loved. The tempo increased to a fury, as the battle raged. In the minor key, he recreated the desperation and hopelessness of the struggle, until very briefly, it changed back into the harmonic major. A ray of hope sprung on the battlefield—a soft theme barely developed in the upper register. But the minor key continued to dominant, evoking despair and heartbreak. A small victory broke through in a major key serenade an octave lower than the first strain of the hopeful theme, this time developed longer than before. Back and forth the two harmonic keys fought, until the major key became dominant, the minor key fading and finally defeated. Then, the theme from the opening measures played as the enemies retreated. Nathan ended his composition as he had started it, but much louder, with many trumpets heralding a great victory and the people cheering.
He heard the chime of the second morning hour sound seconds after he had concluded his composition.
My Midnight Concerto, Nathan thought to himself with a smile. I shall never forget it. Someday when I open my soul and reveal everything, I shall play it for the woman I love.

2. Nathan’s Despair

As he sat at the piano, Nathan only felt darkness and doom. Almost without thinking, Nathan began playing single notes with his right hand, in the middle register of the keyboard. The simple tune evoked such sadness that Nathan felt tears welling in his eyes.
Why, dear God? Why has this curse come upon me?
He repeated the theme in thirds and then triads with his right hand. Next the left hand followed in accompaniment, painting a portrait of utter hopelessness. The slow and quiet theme continued as Nathan improvised subconsciously in a distant key. With his fingers, he then chronicled his gradual descent into darkness, reflected by the theme which became even darker, deep in the bass register of the keyboard. The theme carried no hope, only dread. There would be no moment of triumph in this composition. The left hand was now alone, first triads then thirds, then single notes, until the last sound faded away unresolved—no tonic, no super tonic. That’s how his life would someday end.
Nathan left the bench, but the hopeless theme continued in his mind, so melancholy, so heartbreakingly sad—a kindred accompaniment to his own feelings.

3. Violin Medley
(excerpts from pp. 427-428 of Forever Gentleman)
The music was as pure and as powerful as his first encounter. He recognized the piece: Mozart’s Ruhe Sanft. How was it possible that she was playing it? As a young child, he remembered his mother had often sung it to him as a lullaby when she was putting him to bed. He had never before heard the solo melody played by violin. Memories of his dear mother and the powerful love she had for him came flooding back.
Hearing the beautiful familiar melody compelled Nathan to steal a glance into the doorway of the Sun Room; he had not intended to venture so far. She was turned away from him, on the far side of the room, facing the morning sun pouring in from the window as her bow moved gracefully upon the tight strings of the violin. He remembered her well from before, when she had been dressed in white, her hair down. Today, the sun radiated through the windows, causing her profile to be darkened from Nathan’s view.
Not wanting to be seen, Nathan remained just outside the Sun Room in the hallway, where he would not intrude on her privacy. After completing Ruhe Sanft, she continued with Mendelssohn’s Elias/Elijah Soprano Aria. She is only performing soprano arias—in homage to my mother. They were all melodies he had heard his mother sing. She must know that I am here!
Nathan silently walked over to the doorway again and stared at her. He was shocked to see her face turned, looking his way contentedly as she played. She seemed to have been expecting him. Now exposed, he quietly entered the room and sat on a chair near the room’s entrance. She continued the Mendelssohn Aria, then started on Paisiello’s “Cavatina for Nina.”
When she finally lowered the bow, she walked toward Nathan with a face glowing with delight. She was wearing a light green chiffon dress, her hair up in her customary fashion, with golden plaited braids falling to her waist.

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