Songs From District 12
June 2012 ~ September 2013
A couple of songs inspired by the Hunger Games trilogy. My first foray into songwriting.
Keywords: songwriting, singing, music production
The Hunger Games isn't the most well-written piece of fiction, but the sense of history it evokes is immense. There are two sets of lyrics in the books - one is a lullaby Katniss sings to comfort a dying Rue, the other is a forbidden song that becomes a motif signifying frustration and despair. Although I wasn't too taken with the lyrics, I was curious about how people would interpret them. The official version of the lullaby, Deep In The Meadow, was disappointing: it's a nice song, sure, but somehow it didn't fit in with my image of Panem. The various fan made versions of The Hanging Tree didn't cut it either, so I decided to write my own.
I wrote the music for Deep In The Meadow first. It was fairly straightforward: a soothing rhythm, a predictable crescendo, a gentle ending, and you have a lullaby. The Hanging Tree was a different matter. I got the main melody down early on, and although the book describes this song as being the same melody sung four times, I couldn't help but feel underwhelmed by what would have been the background music to Katniss' fear. I fiddled around with the accompaniment and chords, and finally in May I added the bridge to provide a bit of contrast and highlight the sense of longing. The new notes strained the lower end of my voice so at the last minute I shifted it up a couple of semitones, changing the key from E minor/A minor to F# minor/B minor.
This is probably the hardest project I've ever done. When I started out I knew very little about music theory and nothing at all about music production. My voice was weak from being out of practise. The melodies came easily, but the rest took another year or so to achieve. In the end I was running out of 'studio time' and so thoroughly sick of the tunes that I took the recordings with the least flaws and said "right, I don't care if the vocals are wobbly, this will have to do!"
- The Hanging Tree - audio
- The Hanging Tree - sheet music
- Deep In The Meadow - audio
- Deep In The Meadow - sheet music
Transposed sheet music available upon request.
- Xinghai upright piano
- Transhine PCM-5520 microphone
- Audacity (audio editor)
- MuseScore (music notation editor)
- Words by Suzanne Collins (Deep In The Meadow from The Hunger Games, The Hanging Tree from Mockingjay)
- Everything else by Mingyu Zheng
Special thanks to:
- Beth, for kickstarting this project with her gift of a keyboard,
- Rose, for lending me her apartment and piano,
- Madi, for letting me use her piano,
- Paddy, for technical advice,
- Sierra, for overseeing production, and
- The entire Morley household for putting up with the racket.