The siren call of music

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Abgeschickt von Birgit am 12 Maerz, 2005 um 19:17:08:

I've been thinking some more on the role of music. I haven't examined it in great detail but here are a few fleeting thoughts:

Our first introduction to the Somervilles describes them as "making music like bells in a campanile". And Lymond, when first setting foot in Flaw Valleys, makes his presence known through his music. This is how Kate and Philippa become aware of Lymond for the first time. They hear his music before they ever set their eyes on him, the music draws them to him.

And then there's Lymond's wooing of Philippa, observed by Kate, a breathtaking seduction through music:

"Kate could see the pull of the music in her daughter's eyes; she could imagine the fascination of those magic fingers..."

"Lymond's voice said quietly, 'Don't you want me to play?' There shall be mirth, said the harpsichord. There shall be mirth at our meeting. ..."

As with so many other things, the theme is set right from the start, of what there is to come in the rest of the LC. There shall be mirth at our meeting... it takes your breath away how clearly it is all spelled out already, early in GoK.

The architectural space theme is masterfully interwoven with the theme of music here. The music room at Flaw Valleys is where the Somervilles, where Philippa and Lymond first meet. This is where he first draws her to him and in his turn succumbs to the Somerville spell (with neither of them realizing it, of course).

But the time is not right yet. Not for both of them. Philippa frex, isn't ready yet, figuratively and metaphorically she lingers on the threshold and then runs from the room with her lute.

At Sevigny they inhabit the same "room", but there is no music. But quite fittingly, at the end of CM we are left with the image of Lymond making music together in this very same room, this bright room with its wide oaken porch, bringing us full circle.

But back to GoK:
Lymond continues to play while talking to Kate and under the combined influence of Kate and music, his barriers crumble, and, as with Gideon, within minutes he finds himself talking about extremely personal subjects again. To how many people would he admit the guilt he feels about his sister's death, or even bring up the whole subject? Yet, it doesn't take long when talking to Kate. And of course, the minute he realizes it, he's shocked: "'For God's sake', said Lymond 'don't speak'" He cannot believe what is happening. But he comes out with another personal revelation: "I don't as a rule inflict my more tawdry reminiscences on people, you must believe me. I'm sorry. It's one of the penalties of being incommunicado for five years, but I can usually control it better than that". An open confession of his inner loneliness and yearning for company, no less!

Then of course, he makes "Music to sound in a high tower" for the dying Christian Stewart which is brought to an end by Richard arriving on the scene: "With a crash of bruised post and split panels and an assault which set gut and sounding board screaming, the door of the music room opened. ...Broad, powerful, shivering within the frame of smashed wood, he was a primitive figure, of pantheistic and dreadful force..." (another splintered door, come to think of it, and more of the atavistic force Richard succumbs to in the Dell scene, albeit a negative one here).
Wonderful language in this scene - the beauty of the music suddenly destroyed by Richard's arrival, introducing dischord and ugly sounds into the harmony.

And the duel between Richard and Lymond takes place in the room below the music room, in stark contrast to the "music to sound in high towers", with its uplifting message of hope, "outburning the sunlight and outpouring the volumes of the sea."

This music, which had drawn everyone to Flaw Valleys, as Kate observes "Like squirrels, their faces were pricked at her windows; like Ulysses perhaps their ears were tingling with the music of the sirens."



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