Poem – “Twelve Scorpions”

Twelve Scorpions

Circling the desert of my home,
Twelve scorpions of bronze and turquoise
Mechanical fire in their pincers
Usurped from the hearth of my vitality
Tortured by the symphony of my own joy,
They bleed my ears and leave me to die

Copyright ©2019 S. M. Shuford
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Poem – “Break the Charm”

Break the Charm

Your voice striking yet sinister,
Like a violin under symphonic pressure
Break the charm with its power
Let it flower, and it will guard you
The cacophony of curses roiling in the air,
Their phantom will have no will over yours

Copyright ©2019 S. M. Shuford
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Book Review – Leontyne Price by Carole Boston Weatherford

★★★★ 4 Stars

Full Title: Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century
Genre:
 Biography
Publication Date: December 23rd, 2014
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Leontyne Price is a classical singer, the first African American woman to become a prima donna at the Metropolitan Opera, inspired by the magnificent Marian Anderson and her own family who encouraged her to learn music. Price is an innovator and a fascinating figure that I didn’t really know much about, so this book is kind of an introduction to me as well. I was already familiar with Marian Anderson, who I probably don’t even need to say, was superb.

Both Anderson and Price faced and rose above prejudice in the American music industry, and in opera, to now be renowned as some of the best. Their voices are striking and one-of-a-kind.
Voice of a Century is a beautiful, inspiring book aimed at children, but you know, anyone can like, and I think it does justice to Leontyne Price’s story. I stress that the illustrations really are amazing. Splashes of red, blue and gold brighten the eye while her biography is told, fittingly, in lyrical poems.
It’s a little abridged but if music, history, or both is an interest to you, I definitely recommend this one!

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Top 10 Songs from Silent Hill

atleastitsnotshakespeare

I don’t normally do music posts and don’t plan to start writing them regularly, but this is a rare occasion. On the threshold of the 20th birthday of my favourite series, which is tomorrow, I was surprisingly befuddled on what to analyse and dissect and ramble on about.

Silent Hill, for the uninitiated, is a psychological horror video game series that behaves strangely like artsy cinematic novels, and centers around a tourist town with a bad history. The town harbors a demonic entity that calls broken and vulnerable people to it and creates a delusional world out of the fears it senses in them. It was THE psychological horror series and still holds that place today, despite being indefinitely killed off by its own publishers. There are novels, comics and two films based off of it. I don’t recommend most of those, save for the 2006 film, which is how I discovered the series in the first place, and some of the later comics such as Past Life.

I decided that I should start with a short piece on a part of the Silent Hill series I could recommend to anybody and would be fun to talk about, regardless of the interest they might have in the series itself – the music. If you absolutely hate, hate, hate horror, it would still be unlikely that you’d dislike these soundtracks entirely.

Akira Yamaoka’s compositions for Silent Hill are legendary. They are pretty much the god of soundtracks, and other soundtracks have to earn their blessings before they’re even allowed to exist.
I exaggerate… but not by that much. These are innovative, multi-genre albums that make creative use of more traditional alt-rock, electronica and metal, ambient noise, discordant industrial sounds and even classical music to breed a new genre that’s unique to Silent Hill.
Despite there being some truly disturbing songs, like the infamous “Prayer” from the third game, which sounds like an actual replication of Hell, more often the soundtracks are introspective and mellow rather than scary. “Prayer” itself is quite beautiful in its own demonic way, and I’d love to know how something like it was even made.

I’ve boiled my personal favourites down to ten. Shaving them to this tiny number was no small feat, as including cut material and remixes, the first four entries in the series alone amass 300+ tracks of music with a plethora of different moods within those. Silent Hill‘s vocal themes with Mary Elizabeth McGlynn are pretty popular, but this list is solely for Yamaoka’s instrumentals. They’re really a monster of their own.

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This list is in no particular order, and I’ve given the YouTube link to ones I especially like so you can give them a listen. You can find most of the soundtracks, save the fan-made OSTs of cut and salvaged material, on other music sites as well. There are much, much more than just these. If you’re already familiar with SH, feel free to leave your own faves in a comment!

10 – “Theme of Laura” and “Theme of Laura (Reprise)” from Silent Hill 2
“Theme of Laura” is the series’ theme song by this point. I guarantee if you’re into soundtrack music or have browsed for ‘relaxing’ instrumentals, you have run into the reprise at some point. I guarantee it. Continue reading “Top 10 Songs from Silent Hill”

Inspirations From the Void

Or at least it seems they come from a mystery universe somewhere out there where we can never reach. What is the strangest place you’ve been at the time inspiration hits? Some of the most unexpected things I’ve gleaned a poem from, that I can think of, are the novel Dune, a suspicious insect I didn’t know the name of struggling between two windowpanes, a historic photo of a cannibal, and a haunted house themed level in a video game.

Well, Dune isn’t so oddball. I’m willing to bet there’s more writing out there based on Dune than you’d reckon there was. I know that there is a concept album on it, anyway.

One of my favourites is a poem called “Lorenzo” that showed up in my recent book Loverboy. It’s an agonized, romantic piece that came out of the first time I heard Liszt’s “Liebestraume Notturno No. 3”. “Lorenzo” was a rare exception for me – I don’t normally love my poetry pieces as much as I love that one, and I have to wonder if Liszt was more fond of that particular song than usual?
Either way, I’ve never been able to write anything else with “Liebestraume” as a background, it just doesn’t work for me now like it did to begin. So strange how it all unfolds then diminishes, to never happen again.

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