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.
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.
In celebration of the 59th anniversary of my birth, I’m offering the gift of a free download of a recording of myself singing accompanied by Anton Szandor LaVey, entitled, with tongue-in-cheek, The Two Magi perform Stout-Hearted Men. This has never before been presented to the public. I urge you to read the notes below for context prior to listening. While my singing is barely adequate, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the powerful and unique artistry of Dr. LaVey captured in this session at his Black House in San Francisco. If you enjoy this and feel inclined to reciprocate, I have a gift list on Amazon.com.
—Magus Peter H. Gilmore
Those who became friends with Anton LaVey were sometimes invited to vocalize when he played his array of synthesizer keyboards in that chilly kitchen at 6114 California Street. He enjoyed choosing magically evocative, oft-forgotten old songs for them based on their vocal range and personality traits, and would improvise unique and ever-evolving accompaniments—perhaps the sound of a small ensemble of tired musicians playing during the wee hours at some seedy dive or even a bombastic symphony orchestra emoting with their hearts on their sleeves under a frenzied conductor. He had a wonderful aural imagination and splendid skills towards recreating varied performance scenarios.
In SATAN TAKES A HOLIDAY, he made and released poignant recordings of this sort with Nick Bougas and Blanche Barton, capturing many different moods; I can’t recommend this CD more highly. Atmosphere, implying a back story, was crucial to LaVey’s aesthetic, rather than a perfect rendering of the notes and lyrics—he wanted a narrative quality in these joint efforts. Doktor invited both Peggy and myself to sing with him. Peggy knew a number of obscure songs by memory and could easily play his chanteuse. My college vocal studies during the late 70s to early 80s were classically oriented and my time with the NYU Choral Arts Society included stints with the Brooklyn Philharmonia under Lukas Foss and even a performance in Carnegie Hall with Eve Queler and her Opera Orchestra of New York in Massenet’s Hérodiade (which had a fun men’s chorus for the lusty Roman soldiers). So, versatile Doktor would find something I’d know and played the baritone solo beginning of the “Ode to Joy” section of the finale of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony which I sang in German. We even muddled through one of his favorites, On The Road to Mandalay. He enjoyed our renditions and decided he wanted to record with us on our next visit, so Peggy and I worked on the songs we all selected.
During that subsequent stay in The Black House, Doktor avoided playing and singing until the very last hours before we were about to leave, at a point where we had been awake for almost a full day. The song I had prepared was “Stout-Hearted Men” from the Romberg and Hammerstein operetta The New Moon, which explores concepts derived from the French Revolution. Doktor wanted to project the feeling that together we were trying to rouse our comrades after being long under siege. That certainly was true since we’d endured The Satanic Panic as colleagues defending Satanism from misrepresentation and possibly becoming outlawed.
We did three takes, each with Doktor varying his playing. I was not particularly pleased with my singing in any of the three, but he felt he had obtained the sense he wanted, of rallying the troops to turn the tide to victory. With Peggy he did three sultry songs, one take each, and one day we might let you know more about them. For years, we only played the cassette tape of this session for very close friends so that they could hear the magnificent playing of Dr. LaVey. Reverend Gene Lavergne—who counts amongst his many talents being a diligent conservator of recorded music—recently remastered that cassette for us and even took the three takes of mine and made a tolerable version. I’m sharing that with you today and ask that you please overlook my limited vocal skills to enjoy the spirit of the performance and the always extraordinary musical magic of Anton Szandor LaVey.
The lyrics are below, and I reworded the third stanza to fit with the sentiments expressed in LaVey’s “Hymn of the Satanic Empire.”
You who have dreams, if you act they will come true.
To turn your dreams to a fact, it's up to you.
If you have the soul and the spirit,
Never fear it, you'll see it through,
Hearts can inspire, other hearts with their fire,
For the strong obey when a strong man shows them the way.
Give me some men who are stout-hearted men,
Who will fight, for the right they adore.
Start me with ten who are stout-hearted men,
And I'll soon give you ten thousand more. Oh…
Shoulder to shoulder and bolder and bolder,
They grow as they go to the fore.
Then there's nothing in the world can halt or mar a plan,
When stout-hearted men can stick together man to man.
Give me some men who are stout-hearted men,
Who will fight, for the right they adore.
Give me some men who will fight like the men
Who have fought for The Devil before. Oh…
Give me some guns for the stout-hearted sons
of the ones who have won every war.
Then there's not a chance on Earth for Satan’s cause to die,
When, stout-hearted men go forth and fight them hip and thigh.
During my days as a composition student at NYU, I experimented with a number of styles and decided, though not a pianist, to try my hand at writing a piano sonata. Begun in 1979, I had completed it to a certain level of satisfaction by 1980. I had sketched some ideas for taking themes from the development section and further working them out in separate scherzo and funeral march movements, but I moved on to other pieces and left this behind. In 1982 I tightened the single movement a bit to increase the sense of drama and it was given a performance at one of my required recitals by a fellow who was a skilled sight-reader, but who didn’t spend much time on working towards a deeper interpretation of the work.
I filed the score away until I met and befriended the brilliant Dr. Mark Birnbaum, who is an extraordinary pianist and composer whose keen musical intelligence has been applied to many styles, from Joplin to Scriabin—his own compositions being powerful and unique expressions. When Anton LaVey died in 1997, we were shocked and saddened, and ultimately devised the idea of having a memorial concert a year from the time of his passing. Mark played a solo recital of works, and you can follow this link to see the roster he selected and performed on October 29, 1998 to a sold-out house at the Tenri Cultural Institute in lower Manhattan. The program was varied and included Dr. Birnbaum’s own “Lucifer Rising” as well as an extraordinary improvisation on Dr. LaVey’s “Battle Hymn of the Apocalypse” which even referenced Komeda’s lullaby theme from ROSEMARY’S BABY. It was a deeply moving experience for all present.
Dr. Birnbaum mastered and formally premiered my sonata, titled for this concert “Sonata Infernale.” In the course of his perceptive exploration of it, several aspects of performance evolved and a couple of repetitions were added, all to the benefit of the work. This “Birnbaum edition” from 1998 I consider to be definitive. After the concert, Mark went into the recording studio and did a number of takes of my sonata, but ultimately did not have these edited into a final released recording. I had transferred the sessions from DAT to a regular audio cassette, which I had not listened to for a very many years. This year I digitized the audio cassette and turned these takes over to Magister Gene Lavergne, who has employed his audio sorcery to edit the best of them together to showcase Mark’s passionate performance. Upon rehearing it, I now feel that, aside from the dark aspects of it, the sonata embraces a fine strain of lyricism, so it is now to be known as the “Sonata Infernale et Romantique.”
This piece is in the traditional sonata form of exposition/development/recapitulation/coda. There’s a brief two measure introductory germinal motive, which will appear again in the coda, just before the closing gesture. During the development there are scherzando and funeral march aspects that come into play. Ultimately, it seems to work as a self-contained piece, rather than as part of a multi-movement work, so it can stand as is.
I trust that you’ll enjoy this masterly performance by the inimitable Dr. Mark Birnbaum. I urge you to explore Mark’s numerous recordings as they all bring such a vibrant and perceptive take to all he has embraced, regardless of the composer or style. You can discover his recordings on Spotify and purchase them via cdbaby.com. Amongst these, you’ll find some of pieces that were recorded live from that memorial concert. Mark’s music will enrich you, and I am so very fortunate to have had him bring my notes to such energetic life.
—Magus Peter H. Gilmore (5/18/19)
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.
THRENODY FOR HUMANITY
We Are Legion
A Moment In Time
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