Adapted from the original version for solo marimba and percussion quartet, Halcyon Deconstruction seeks to emulate the sounds of traditional acoustic percussion instruments while gradually devolving into a much more electronic atmosphere. Programmatically, the 10-minute piece tells the heartbreaking yet uplifting tale of Alcyone and Ceyx from Ovid's Metamorphoses.
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Genre: Marimba (4-mallet) with CD | # of Players: 1
Level: Medium Difficult | Duration: 10:15
The phrase "Halcyon Days" (HAL-see-uhn) refers to a period of peace and tranquility. It can also harken back to an earlier time that is remembered as idyllic, whether accurately or not. I researched the mythological origins of this phrase to gather more inspiration for the piece. According to Ovid's Metamorphoses, Alcyone (al-SAHY-uh-nee) was the daughter of Aeolus (EE-uh-luhs), King of the Winds, and the wife of Ceyx (SEE-iks). Alcyone and Ceyx were very much in love and were never willingly apart. Ceyx decided he must make a long journey across the sea to consult the oracle of Apollo at Delphi. Knowing the danger of such a journey, Alcyone was overwhelmed with grief and terror and begged him not to go. Ceyx left anyway and died tragically in a shipwreck. The gods came to Alcyone in a dream and told her of her husband's death. Stricken with grief, she jumped into the sea, but the Gods took pity on her and before she could be overcome by the waves, she was transformed into a kingfisher (also called a halcyon). Ceyx was changed into a bird as well and their love was blessed for all time. In their honor, Zeus forbade the winds to blow for seven days prior to and seven days following the Winter Solstice so Alcyone & Ceyx could safely brood over their nests near the waters. Their tragic love story has given us the very word that means calm, contentment and happiness.
The music follows the arc of the story fairly closely, dividing into six sections – Alcyone & Ceyx (m. 1-37), Ceyx at Sea (m. 38-90), Turbulent Waters (91-167), The Fall of Ceyx (m. 168-172), Metamorphosis (m. 173-201) & Halcyon Days (m. 202-end). The melodic/harmonic material is derived from 4 chords and pitch sets, which help to unify the piece.
The original version for solo marimba and percussion quartet, titled Halcyon Days, was commissioned by a consortium of percussionists and educators that was organized by Josh Knight.