A Tapestry of Tales

1 The Blue Carbuncle

2 Six Pearls to Mary

3 Two Solitary Men

4 Scandal in Bohemia

5 Wisteria Lodge

6 A Tapestry of Tales

 

1 The Blue Carbuncle (duration 12:54)

Synopsis

When a priceless gem is stolen from a countess’s boudoir, an innocent man is accused of the crime. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are sent literally on a ‘wild goose chase’ through the foggy streets of Victorian London at Christmas time.

Music

The album opens with Sherlock Holmes in his rooms in Baker Street, playing his violin. (The tune he is playing returns at the climax of the song, when the villain begs Holmes to let him go.) As this is the opening of the album, the song proper begins with an ‘overture’, featuring some of the main musical themes. These themes feature not only in this song, but across both of the ‘Holmes’ albums. As The Adventure of The Blue Carbuncle is set at Christmas time, all the atmosphere of a Victorian Christmas is evoked through the use of tinkling bell sounds, church organs, and violin-like guitar parts. (Listen out for the sleigh bells…) Prog and fusion fans may also like the fact that much of the song is in 7/4 time…

Lyrics

~A Christmas Overture~

It arrived on Christmas morning, together with a good fat goose
‘Neath a gaslight glow a tallish man was seen in some affray
To guard himself a stick was raised, which broke a window near
He dropped his wares, took to his heals, and fled into the night

He burst into the room with no warning, his features and eyes all aglow
Displayed upon his palm, a scintillating sapphire stone
Found within the goose, a treasure trove, a stolen gem
The case looked clear against the one who took a gamble with his soul,
while he who lost the goose must now be found without delay

The claimant came along and passed the test,
closing down a line of our research
Left us in all innocence yet gave us quite a lead

See how it sparkles – a nucleus and focus of crime
A sinister history with no end
The stars were shining coldly in a cloudless sky
Our loudly ringing footfalls joined the passers-by
A December night in London townChristmas picture

Into the night with all the energy that we could call upon
The landlord sent us to the market place, but there the man was firmly placed
He’d not be moved, by showing grace
Just about to leave when a disturbance issued forth

The frightened man was colourless and scared,
questioning attention unforeseen
Now knowing that assistance was at hand he cried for joy

A windswept market was no place to talk with such a fearful soul,
half-frightened eyes glancing ’round
The fire was burning brightly in our cosy room,
the shaking guest not knowing that he was through
The brightest little gem of radiant blue

“I never went wrong before, I’ll never go wrong again
Temptation of such wealth was far too strong
And the innocent man locked away – he’d done no wrong
I’ve thrown my soul away

I will fly, he’ll go free”
His only road to freedom was to tell the truth,
desperate now to clear the name of all he loved
Terror held his very soul – freedom was his only goal
Broken hearts never lie

When the tale was through he was a broken man,
swearing that he’d never turn to crime again
We could only let him go out into the Christmas snow
All at once he was gone

2 Six Pearls to Mary (duration 5:46)

Synopsis

A sorry tale concerning Dr John Watson and his wife Mary. After only five years of marriage, Mrs Watson passed away. Dr Watson subsequently had the freedom to assist Sherlock Holmes for the rest of their careers.

Music

The six pearls of the song’s title are represented by a little bell tune which features throughout the song, which is itself in 6/8 time. As the song takes us through the married life of Dr and Mrs Watson, no two verses or choruses are arranged in the same way. Instead, they change and develop, just as any marriage does. The note of optimism in the first chorus develops into a sense of loss and poignancy.

However, there is a note of hope for the future at the end of the song – having been in the minor mode for much of the time, an optimistic ending is created by the use of a major final chord. We know that Dr Watson will be alright in the future.

Lyrics

She waits all alone in her room for him
When the day turns to dusk and the night closes in
Her blonde hair falls over her soft shoulders bare
She calls out his name but knows he’s not there

But she says he can go, ’cause he’ll always come home
Her lifelong companion, her lover and friend
She gave up her fortune – her soul mate knows why
He’ll always be worth more than six pearls to Mary

With all of her heart given over this way
When there’s no reason why, it’s so easy to stay
With the pleasures of youth, comes the pain of surprise
Her young girl’s reflection smiles back while she cries

She thought he could go, ’cause he’d always come home
No reason to doubt – it would always be so
But the one thing that binds us – we’re all born to die
Still he knew he was worth more than six pearls to Mary

He sleeps all alone in his room without her
When the day turns to dusk and the night closes in
Her blonde hair fell over her soft shoulders bare
He calls out her name, but he knows she’s not there

But he always can go, ’cause she’s there by his side
His one true companion, his lover and friend
Too good to be taken, too young to go
Yet he always was worth more than six pearls to Mary

3 Two Solitary Men (duration 4:27)

Synopsis

An instrumental track in which the cosy intellectual atmosphere of the Baker Street lodgings are occasionally interrupted by a sinister adversary…

Music

Some of the most intellectually demanding pieces of music ever created make use of the musical technique of counterpoint. This is where more than one line of notes sound at the same time. J. S. Bach is regarded as the greatest exponent of this style of composition.

The two solitary men of the title are Sherlock Holmes and his greatest adversary Professor Moriarty. We imagine Holmes in his sitting room (the contrapuntal ‘verses’). His peace is interrupted as he comes into contact, directly or otherwise, with Professor Moriarty. The use of unrelated minor chords, heavy lead guitar, bass pedals and choir, are all used to depict Professor Moriarty, who disrupts the regular 4/4 time music by refusing to have the main melody played on the beat all of the time. In spite of these interruptions, at the end we are left with Holmes brooding alone in his sitting room, represented by the harpsichord, the main keyboard instrument used for contrapuntal music.

4 A Scandal in Bohemia (duration 13:29)

Synopsis

The forthcoming marriage of the King of Bohemia is jeopardised when he is threatened with the exposure of a previous romantic liaison. Although a scandal is averted, Sherlock Holmes is outwitted by his (female) adversary.

Music

As this story concerns one of the ruling dynasties of nineteenth-century Europe, it was felt that a musical adaptation of it should have a size and complexity to match – as a result, this is the longest and most musically complex song on the album. The arrangements feature four-part vocal harmonies, brass fanfares, harpsichord countermelodies, a church organ solo, a marching band, and plenty of classically-influenced guitar lines.

Structurally, the song follows the story very closely. Watson’s visit to Baker Street; the arrival of the King of Bohemia; Holmes’ investigations, during which he finds himself (in disguise) somewhat comically draughted in as a witness at the wedding of Irene Adler and her new beau; and a ‘song within a song’, mirroring a ‘plot within a plot’ – the audacious scheme hatched by Holmes to uncover a missing photograph of Irene Adler and the King. As this is all executed by Holmes with military precision, the obvious musical choice for this section was a march. The final section of the story became the closing section of the song – a summing-up of all that had occurred.

Lyrics

Returning from a journey to a patient, I passed the well-remembered door
I was seized with a keen desire to see my former friend once more
He was at work again, risen from his drug-created dreams
And the pink-tinted paper from a foreign hand, from behind a screen
Leads us to a scandal in Bohemia

Horses’ hooves and grating wheels, a slow and heavy step upon the stairs
Heavy bands of astrakhan, an oath to silence every man
The sign of ruin over the man who compromised himself so seriously
Betrothed to the very soul of frailty, one who cannot know the shadow
Jealousy and beauty flow together oh so easily it seems to me
I offer you my country if you lead me from a scandal in Bohemiacab picture
She’s the girl with a face that a man might die for, could die for
Captured his heart, turned many a head
Each in a separate carriage, with the same journey’s end
Steaming horses racing through the streets, with no second to lose

Standing at the altar giving answers which were whispered in my ear
The bride gave me a sovereign as I walked away,
while the clergyman beamed on at me
The marriage changes everything

What a tangled web we weave
This man so keen to wed has found true love
While the King lives in fear of her pure soul of steel

Already dusk in Baker Street
Pacing up and down outside the lodge
The passers-by part of the plan
The simple-minded clergyman
The scene is set, the actors on the stage

The sidelights of a carriage bear the butterfly into the web unknown
The men were striking savagely, the clergyman feigned bravery,
while solemnly, she bore him to the room
Motioning for air, while the maid opened up the window,
he then showed a sign – the sign was mine
People screaming fire, people rushing everywhere,
and I was slipping through the crowd, my part was played
On the cry of false alarm, she put the picture back and rushed away
Suspecting now a hidden scheme, that threatened ruin on her dream
She planned to fly, and leave a picture there

Starting off, once more to face, an open door and empty house
The bird had flown across the sea, taking all we came to seeships wheel
Leaving just a token in its place

Reading now a note which we found – the note would all astound and end the tale
She revealed she had felt no suspicion until the cry of false alarm
And so the two of them thought their safest action was to fly
And they placed with this letter a picture of herself alone
And they spared us from a scandal in Bohemia

5 Wisteria Lodge (duration 1:45)

Synopsis

A haunting piece for classical guitar, this is a reflection on how a small group of committed individuals fought to overcome the tyrannical ruler of their country.

Music

The classical guitar is the one single instrument which can conjure up the atmosphere of the Spanish Americas. In Holmes’ world, these foreign lands were hardly known to people in Europe, and the readers of Dr Watson’s accounts of Holmes’ adventures would have been thrilled by his tales of these exotic, far-away countries.

6 A Tapestry of Tales (duration 9:46)

Synopsis

A tribute to the many colourful characters who inhabit the Sherlock Holmes stories. Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson, Holmes’ brother Mycroft, the Scotland Yard detectives, the ‘Baker Street Irregulars’, and the arch villain Professor Moriarty all make an appearance.

Music

This song fuses together a variety of styles, to produce a musical ‘tapestry’. It is intended as a musical tribute to the wonderful world of Sherlock Holmes.

Lyrics

A candle warms the air while a pen fills the page [Dr Watson]Candle picture
Preparing a new tale, the Doctor sees the dawn
Walking only between chambers and society, [Mycroft Holmes]
the brother is in company yet quite alone

A calculating tool with perfect reason [Sherlock Holmes]
A finely polished lens without a crack
Countered by emotion, ‘neath the surface
This lantern in the dark is all we lack

In the safety of their chambers they sought refuge, [221B Baker Street]
from the world beyond the heavy curtained panes
An untidy, lamp-lit haven for a friendship [Holmes and Watson
Where the innocence of childhood still remained cared for by
Mrs Hudson]

Taking all the lamplight and the glory, [Scotland Yard detectives]
young yarders have small reason for good cheer
The naked feet of children on the stairs [The Baker Street Irregulars – street
One shilling their reward for eager souls urchins who helped with Holmes’s
enquiries]

The terror of the face lay in the eyes [Professor Moriarty]
This heartless man our hero did despise
Schemers to the last, these villains had no soul [Moriarty’s associates]
Mystery and treachery, their only goal

In the darkness of the streets, behind the sunset [The backstreets
Where a secret world of terror lies in wait of Victorian London]
A gas-lit figure moves in the shadows
A cloak of mist conceals a victim’s fate

The stories are a lifeline to an age now far away
In days of old, when tales were told, and supermen held sway
Copernicus can sing and dance, and bask in the morning light
No matter, whether near or far, these men turned wrong to right

The stories are a lifeline to a time we need to know
Legends, like a tapestry this man has sewn
When no imagination is enough to guide you through
Use these histories as a guide and they will give the world to you

All content ©2013 Looking-Glass Recordings All Rights Reserved
The characters of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are used here by kind permission of Jonathan Clowes Limited, on behalf of Andrea Plunket, Director of the Arthur Conan Doyle EU trademarks. The characters of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are used here by kind permission of Andrea Plunket,Administrator of the Conan Doyle Copyrights. (US licence.)


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