Monday, February 22, 2010

Music inspired by the Arabian Nights

If you're like me, every time you hear the phrase "Arabian Nights," the opening song to Disney's Aladdin pops into your head: "Arabian Niiiiiiiiiiights, like Arabian Daaaaaays..." but that isn't the only music inspired by the Arabian Nights.

First of all, a little background: the Arabian Nights is a collection of folktales, but all told within the framework of a larger story. When the Sultan Schahriar's wife had an affair, he was convinced all women were wicked and took his revenge by, after killing her, marrying a new wife each night and having her killed the next morning. Finally, the grand vizir's daughter, Scheherezade, volunteered to be his new wife. Her strategy for staying alive was to tell him a fairy tale each night, but not finish it; in his curiosity to hear the rest of the story, he kept her alive for a thousand and one nights, and eventually fell in love with her. The fairy tales in the collection are the tales Scheherezade tells the king each night. I love this story because of Scheherezade's wit and courage, as well as the lifesaving power of storytelling itself.

I got this beautifully illustrated book at Bluestem Books in Lincoln, Nebraska. Of all the used bookstores I've ever been to, this one had the biggest selection of fairy tale and folklore books.

Anyway: First up is the four-movement suite "Scheherezade" by Rimsky-Korsakoff.

This piece pretty much embodies the essence of Romantic music, with its sweeping melodies and dramatic mood swings. It's the perfect music for listening to while reading or writing fairy tales.

Next is a very different style, but inspired by the same subject matter. Remember my favorite band, Nightwish? Their song "Sahara" from their album "Dark Passion Play" alludes to the Arabian Nights:

"A ballad of dark queen echoes through night
As he flees the curse of gods, the pharaoh's wrath

1001 nights unseen
The philosopher and the queen

Ancient mariner in a sea of sand
The burning beauty his tomb to die for

1001 nights unseen
The philosopher and the queen
Horizon's swarming with death

Heaven has a darkened face
Dunes are soaring, as on a chase
Caravan of the cursed
Chasing him across the waves

May he now rest under aegis of mirage
As the sands slowly turn to Elysian fields

1001 nights unseen
The philosopher and the queen"

Lyrics found at

This poster was created by my brother. He took plain, individual shots off the website, arranged them together, and added the affects.

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