Four Hobbits – Four Humours

Inspired by the work of Carl Lingard, who has gone into great depth at his blog, thewindrose.net looking at Tolkien’s “secret grammar” and the hidden etymologies of many names and places in The Lord of the Rings, I did a bit of research of my own into some character names, with the help of wiktionary [...]

Billy Budd – A closer look at the score

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZhTAcO0r9o I want to look at a particular passage from Benjamin Britten’s great opera, Billy Budd, to see how we can learn from his orchestral writing. Billy Budd is a truly masterful work, and really rewards repeated listening; I recommend especially the 1966 BBC production that is, at least currently, available on YouTube, if you’re [...]

Composing the Sea

A Scene from Britten's Death in Venice It may seem strange to focus on Benjamin Britten’s Death in Venice in talking about how he composed his seascapes; after all, he returned to the subject many times throughout his career – perhaps more than any other composer – and often treated it more directly than in [...]

Why are there ‘Octopods’ in P’o-lu?

Any readers of this blog unfamiliar with Charles Williams’ Taliessin poems will have to forgive this rather absurd-sounding question, and may pass over the answers given here. But, really, why are there octopods in P’o-lu? The reason, I believe, is linked to Williams’ use of the Zodiac. The octopus corresponds to the house of Cancer, [...]