We’re going all the way back to the beginning for this week’s Project: Archives track. “A Time of Legends” originally appeared in my first song collection, Unearthed Arcana, and was the first ballad I ever wrote.
Year Composed: 1987
About the Song
Writing an instrumental ballad can be an interesting endeavor. As with any instrumental music, you don’t have the luxury of song lyrics to tell the listener who or what the song is about, how you were feeling when you wrote it, etc. I remember running through a few ideas for the melody for “A Time of Legends” several times before pressing the record button, but a lot of it was more or less improvised around the idea of letting the music unfold as if it were a story being told. The melody’s pitches, pacing, and dynamics essentially represented the storyteller’s voice, rising and falling as the song progressed to depict what was happening and the overall emotional level and involvement of the narrator.
This was another staple selection of my live performances, usually arriving later in the set to serve as a point of contrast for the more energetic closing numbers. Strangely enough, one of the most identifiable melodic passages here was the sole result of a technological limitation – the keyboard maxing out on its polyphony (the number of notes that can be played simultaneously)! The quick, high, back and forth switches during the last verse section abruptly cut off between each note because I was using a built-in harmonizer. That section bothered me a little at first, since it disrupted the flow of the song a bit, but after a while, I just became part of the character of the whole and I think I would actually miss it now if it wasn’t there!