In celebration of my 51st birthday I presented eight tracks of music which I composed, performed, and recorded back in the 1990s for use as introductions to songs on an album by a metal band. A couple of these have been subsequently re-mixed and released elsewhere, but these tracks are in the original form in which they first appeared.
On Halloween of 2013 c.e. I've added ten more pieces from the same decade. The Nine Satanic Statements are my settings of these texts, many of them musical tributes to some of my favorite composers of film scores and symphonic music. I speak the words. The Nosferatu Prelude references Vlad Tepes, celebrating his mode of justice and concluding with a vision of his mountain castle built by the enslaved boyars who meant to betray him.
Please forgive the roughness of the mixes and the primitiveness of the recorded sound as they were mastered directly in stereo on analog cassette.
These tracks are offered as a free download (right click on the titles), and they are only for the personal listening pleasure of the readers of this web site. Please do not re-post these anywhere, though feel free to send others to this page whom you think might enjoy these brief pieces.
Magus Peter H. Gilmore's Darkscapes
I am in the process of digitizing recordings of my earliest electronic compositions, some of which were released on a cassette album in the mid 1980s which I titled DARKSCAPES. After each piece is enhanced by the audio wizardry of Warlock Gene of Vox Satanae, it will be included on this page for your listening pleasure. The pieces were written in differing compositional styles, from Haydn-esque through avant-garde, which I trust you will find of interest—I had fun making them!
—Magus Peter H. Gilmore, 24 May, Year 50, Anno Satanas.
When I studied towards my Masters degree in music composition at NYU, my concentration was on electronic music. I worked in a lab which contained a vintage analog Buchla modular synthesizer array and I relished creating sounds from scratch with its patch bay apparatus.
Walpurgisnacht was assembled from several tracks I created on that device. I also recorded myself speaking a certain phase in Latin with which you’ll be familiar and speaking and partially singing the 18th Enochian key, in Enochian. I then modulated that recording in part with the Buchla and also played it backwards by reversing the tape, as a nod to the fear people had back then of “backwards masking.” So there are several layers to this sound collage.
When I initially played it to my classmates–it was an evening class–I turned out the lights so they heard it through large speakers at a loud volume in total darkness. When I restored the lights after the finish, they seemed a bit shaken and one even said it made him feel like he should “jump out the window.” We were about nine stories up!
Warlock Gene has graciously remastered the sound of this track from the best source stereo cassette mix I have in my archive. The tape hiss was quite heavy, even in the original recording. I trust you’ll enjoy it and refrain from defenestration.
During my composition studies in the early 80s I tried my hand at replicating a number of previous historical styles. Here I wrote a piece using the classical sonata-allegro form, typically employed for the first movement in a symphony or solo instrumental sonata. My tempo is allegro moderato and my approach is in a manner often used by Haydn and Mozart, tonally moving in the exposition from a theme in the tonic key to one in the dominant. The exposition is repeated so that the listener can become familiar with the material. The development section begins immediately in the minor and you might enjoy following how I’ve inverted and otherwise fragmented or altered the themes. I end this section by working up a climactic transition, bringing us back to the tonic key for the triumphant recapitulation of the thematic material in the home key, the second theme being enriched with added counterpoint.
I used a keyboard-based Korg synthesizer, which had sounds I thought to be a bit reminiscent of Wendy Carlos’ timbres from her extraordinary “Switched-On Bach” album, as the means for rendering my music as an homage to Carlos, whom I deeply admire. I had never done more than a cursory mix of this work as it was only played to my fellow classmates. Going back to it I find that it has a certain charm and might be of interest to those who enjoy my other music. Once again, Warlock Gene has worked his magic so that I can offer you this piece in the best sound that it has ever had.
Another work from the period of my graduate composition studies during the early 1980s. I had brief access to NYU’s one Fairlight CMI, which was a pioneering (and very costly) digital sampling synthesizer that produced sounds which were remarkably similar to actual instruments—quite a feat for the time. It was favored by some prominent pop musicians. The Fairlight’s graphic interface allowed for cutting, pasting and transposition of one’s music once it had been encoded into the machine’s software. I thought it was thus suited to composing in the ritornello form which had been brought to such perfection by Bach in his Brandenburg Concerti—number three being a particular favorite of mine.
I had at that time read two books by Migene González-Wippler about the syncretistic religion called Santería, which transplants African tribal deities to the Spanish speaking new world, fusing them with Catholic Saints and indigenous beliefs into an amalgam serving as a mode of worship and sorcery. Changó is one of the Orishas, a deity who embodies virility, fire, thunder & lightning, as well as drumming and dancing. I decided to create a syncretistic piece, using a European musical form, but infused with syncopations found in various “Latin” musics with an instrumentation that blended European with Southern Hemisphere timbres. I used strings, brass, tympani, glockenspiel, marimba, an anvil, steel drums, a pan flute, and pipe organ—used monophonically rather than chordally, so it serves as a very wide ranging “woodwind” sound. Since practitioners of this religion often went to mass in Catholic Churches where they felt they could be in touch with the Saints who were the alternative faces of the Orishas, the organ seemed a proper part of my ensemble, inspired by Santería’s syncretization. And, just for fun, I make reference to a theme from Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, which is a work that in part evokes sounds from nature.
Once again I am fortunate to have Warlock Gene Lavergne of the Vox Satanae classical music podcast lending his talents, bringing the proper chamber acoustics to what had been a fairly flat sounding original cassette recording. It is an energetic piece and if its rhythms invoke toe-tapping or other bodily motion, it will have served its intent.
ALGOL, originally released on my DARKSCAPES cassette album in 1987, is named after a variable star in the constellation Perseus that signifies the winking eye of the severed head of the Gorgon Medusa, slaughtered by the legendary Greek hero. It has been called the “demon star,” and it can be readily viewed in the northeastern skies around Halloween. I wrote this piece as an homage to Bernard Herrmann, inspired by his scores for The Twilight Zone as well as his other majestic music for fantasy films with stop motion animation by Ray Harryhausen.
My thought was that this could serve as a score for an imaginary Lovecraftian film depicting a journey by Earth people to a dead planet in the Algol system. As the astronauts travel down an oily river, they discover the ruins of a past, non-human civilization, carved into the rock cliffs. The architecture is monumental, cyclopean, with alien hieroglyphs and bizarre, unearthly beasts ornamenting the non-Euclidean geometry of the worn structures. The intrepid explorers find that a massive carved mouth is an entrance tunnel and move through this shadowed labyrinth, their lights revealing relics and friezes capturing the savage history of this long-dead race — eventually pointing to a terrifying connection with distant Earth.
Algol as observed from a distance is evoked by the chiming at the very start, meant to give a sense of space-time that is vast and distorted, pulling one into a maelstrom of ancient maleficence that surrounds this cursed sun. One need only allow the shifting meters and polytonal harmonies to take one along on the journey.
The work dates from the time of my graduate studies. I first wrote out the piece in a “short score”—the pitches and rhythms with some rough indications of orchestral timbres. I then employed a Korg keyboard synthesizer for all of the sounds, playing and recording each part on a multitrack tape deck. After having earlier used patch bay synthesizers, tweaking ready made patches which one could play on a keyboard made things far easier for creating tonal music. You’ll find sounds that are imitative of orchestral instruments, but most are clearly uniquely synthetic. I later took some sections of this piece and reworked them in a more realistic orchestral palette for the central section of “Eternal War,” which can be heard on my album THRENODY FOR HUMANITY.
The incomparable Reverend Gene Lavergne of the Vox Satanae classical music podcast has remastered my aging stereo cassette master for a greatly enriched listening experience. May you enjoy your aural journey to that remote, malevolent demon star.
Threnody for Humanity
Threnody for Humanity is still available and can be ordered below.
Order the limited edition Sinfonie Sinistre CD below, and enjoy the live streamed CD listening party and liquid light show hosted by Howl Gallery.
If you’ve enjoyed the music I’ve provided for downloading and want to show your appreciation, I always welcome expanding my collection of movies and music, so here is a link to my Amazon.com wish list.
All works listed above are copyright © by Peter H. Gilmore, 1993, 1995, 1998. These tracks may not be reposted for download, nor is permission given to sell them or include them on any commercial or privately released CD or any other recording or transmissional media. For further information you may contact the composer: Peter H. Gilmore.