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Author: Himring

Title: Like the Voice of an Old Friend

Rating: PG

Theme: character study

Elements: the character spends time with an old friend

Author's Notes: The muse was in a rather strange mood--I hope this will be acceptable as a fill!

Summary: Maglor, son of Feanor, encounters the Aldudenie, Elemmire's lament for the Two Trees

Word Count: 1,255


The records claim that all the Eldar knew the Aldudenie, the lament that Elemmire of the Vanyar composed on the subject of the destruction of the Two Trees--all the Eldar, even those who had never set foot in Valinor, even those who had never seen the light of the Trees!
Yet it was not so, at first. Although the germ of the Aldudenie was planted in Elemmire's heart at the moment of the Darkening, before he even knew that the blind fear that descended on him was caused by the fatal wounding of the Trees and although words and notes kept churning in his head as, with the rest, he rushed back and forth in the terror of unnatural Night—stumbling down the rocky, dangerous slopes of Taniquetil, through the suddenly unfamiliar streets of Valimar, onwards to desolate Ezellohar and back again—despite all this, the Aldudenie was not composed on the spur of the moment. It was barely taking shape in Elemmire’s head when Nolofinwe and those who had come with him decided to return to Tirion and when silence fell between the Vanyarin elves and the Noldor, black and enduring as the enveloping darkness. And later when the greater part of the Noldor departed for Middle-earth— beginning their descent of the Calacirya in great haste and without farewell to Vala or Vanya—the earliest version of the Aldudenie had only just begun to be sung in the nooks and alleyways of Valmar as the Vanyar huddled by the light of a torch in the gloom.
It was hundreds of years of the Sun later—during the War of Wrath—that the Aldudenie was brought to Middle-earth. The elven army led by Eonwe, Ingwion and Finarfin brought Elemmire’s song with them, although to do so was hardly their intention. The aims of that army when they left Valinor were straightforward and their concern with Middle-earth was very limited: they wished to defeat Morgoth for good and collect any of their errant kin that might prove redeemable and return them safely home to Valinor. That was all. But, straightforward though those aims were, they were not as straightforward to carry out. Morgoth took a long time to defeat. The entanglement of elves and Men in Middle-earth was more complex than the Vanyar and Noldor of Valinor had guessed. And so, during their protracted campaign, sitting at evening by their campfires, they sang the Aldudenie. They sang it to remind themselves what they stood for, to ward off doubt and fear. What Morgoth had started, by attacking the Trees, they were going to finish, they reassured each other. Oh, Telperion, silver more true than any ore of the earth's core, dearer and closer to us than starlight! Oh, Laurelin!
They sang the Aldudenie mostly among themselves, for their own sake, but not in secret, and others heard. And although the land of Beleriand had been dying for a long time, as the wind from the north carried its corruption far south and Angband’s poison leaked into the rivers, and although it continued to die, yard by yard, inch by inch, as it was gradually wrested from the grasp of Morgoth—despite that, knowledge of the Aldudenie spread throughout the land. Where news and goods were still exchanged among the scattered and divided peoples of Beleriand, the Aldudenie, too, passed from mouth to mouth, until it came to the ears of Maglor, son of Feanor.
The Sons of Feanor had not yet exchanged a word with the arrivals from Valinor nor set foot in their camp. Nevertheless news of the Aldudenie came to Maglor--and for a while it seemed to come at him from every direction at once. How was it possible, he wondered irritably, that an exiled kinslayer lurking in the woods could be beset by people who insisted on singing mangled versions of the Aldudenie at him? With difficulty, he controlled the impatient twitching of his fingers. It would not do to offend anyone who was still willing to trade with the Sons of Feanor. But when the traders left, the music went round and round in his head. He had not heard the Aldudenie performed correctly yet, but he knew well how it ought to sound.
Elemmire himself had not been a friend. Their opinions on a whole range of subjects had just been too different for that to happen, although they had, for a while, agreed to disagree and respected each other—until Maglor’s decision to follow his father into exile had met with Elemmire’s utter incomprehension. Maglor was not surprised that Elemmire himself had apparently remained behind in Valinor with Ingwe and had not come to do battle with Morgoth in Middle-earth even now.
But Elemmire’s music! It was his music that called to Maglor with all the insistence of an old childhood friend. Growing up in Tirion, he had learned to play every piece by Elemmire as soon as it came out. That had not gone down well with his father, who would have preferred it if Maglor had not singled out a Vanyarin composer for his admiration, but Feanor’s disapproval had not fazed Maglor in the least.
Maglor had once known Elemmire’s style like the back of his hand, almost as well as his own. And in Beleriand he had still played his music occasionally, especially when he chance to meet up with Ecthelion, who had shared an interest. But Ecthelion was dead, like so many others, and little by little Elemmire’s music had come to seem irrelevant, as the past receded and the dawn of each day tasted of defeat.
And now here it was, the Aldudenie: utterly Vanyarin and Valinorean, perfect of its kind. Oh, Laurelin the lost, the sun is only a faint memory of you! Oh, Telperion! It was clearly Elemmire’s masterpiece and Maglor could tell exactly how it ought to be played but…  There was so much it was bound up with, so much that he had almost forgotten. He was not sure he was ready to take on Elemmire’s view of the Darkening—those events that had meant something so fundamentally different to him and to his people than they did to Elemmire. Once, empathy through music had come easy to Maglor. Now, with every conviction crumbling, he was not sure he could afford it any longer.
Maglor, usually of so equable a temper—except, always, where music was concerned—stalked around the Feanorian camp like an angry bear in a cloud of buzzing bees. Elrond and Elros, who had imagined they knew their foster-father in all his moods, watched him with considerable alarm, not knowing how to react and what to do. In the end, it was Maedhros who went and stood in front of Maglor as he continued to wander distractedly about the campsite. Maglor almost ran straight into his brother before he noticed him—something so unheard of that it shocked him to a standstill.
‘You need to play it, Kano,’ said Maedhros.
‘Do you know what it will do to me,’ said Maglor wildly. ‘Do you?’
‘I can see what it will do to you, if you don’t’, said Maedhros.
Maglor stared at him for a moment.
‘Not here,’ he said then, more calmly.
‘All right,’ said Maedhros. ‘Fetch your harp and we’ll go.’
They stayed away for days. Elros had almost persuaded Celvandil to send a search party for them by the time they returned. Maglor’s face was grey with exhaustion. Maedhros’s face was completely expressionless, but something told Elrond he had not eaten in all that time and he set about heating a bowl of broth for them both. Maedhros and Maglor sat by the fire, nursing the hot soup, not talking.
But early the next morning—‘Lessons’, said Maglor to Elrond and Elros. ‘Here’s what you need to learn.’
And he began to teach them the Aldudenie.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
dreamflower02
May. 22nd, 2014 12:53 am (UTC)
Oh, I love that Maglor's "old friend" was music--and that music especially! I would say it's far more than acceptable--it's quite clever and lovely.

I really loved the ending, too!
hhimring
May. 23rd, 2014 08:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Dreamflower, that's very kind of you!
I'm glad you liked the ending!
levade001
May. 22nd, 2014 04:12 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is packed with all sorts of interesting ideas! I love this (among other parts):

How was it possible, he wondered irritably, that an exiled kinslayer lurking in the woods could be beset by people who insisted on singing mangled versions of the Aldudenie at him? With difficulty, he controlled the impatient twitching of his fingers. It would not do to offend anyone who was still willing to trade with the Sons of Feanor. But when the traders left, the music went round and round in his head. He had not heard the Aldudenie performed correctly yet, but he knew well how it ought to sound.

Yes. You've summed up a musician's ire at badly played music so perfectly. Poor Maglor -- I've been haunted by a song before and it can be so maddening, but for all that this piece of music brings trailing along in its wake... Wow, Himring! Love this.

ETA: I have to laugh at the thought of these traders singing this song to Maglor of all people. Wonder if they knew precisely who he was and did it on purpose or out of ignorance?

Edited at 2014-05-22 04:14 pm (UTC)
hhimring
May. 23rd, 2014 08:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Levade!
I'm so glad you liked this, especially as I've felt so uncertain about it every since writing it. (I've been very tired and not entirely well..)
Being haunted by music can be maddening even for someone like me and I'm no kind of musician!
The traders actually mean it kindly. But they only know the piece fourth- or fifth-hand and they've never heard Vanyarin music before. To Maglor, it sounds weird, a bit as if they were trying to play Beethoven on a banjo...
zopyrus
May. 23rd, 2014 02:50 pm (UTC)
I really like this--the way Maglor's relationship with Elemmire's music has never been straightforward, and the difference between how the song sounds when the traders play it, and how it sounds in his head.

And Maedhros' supportive practicality is compelling, as always--although at this stage in the story, I'd hate to be one of his followers, wondering if the Sons of Feanor were going to come back!
hhimring
May. 26th, 2014 10:21 am (UTC)
Glad you found things to like in this!

I think I had mentioned to you that Tumblr post before--the one that said the Noldolante was clearly small beer, according to canon, compared to Daeron's works and Elemmire's Aldudenie. Fair enough, in its way, but the poster skipped rather lightly over the fact that the Aldudenie is said to have been composed about an event that triggered major communication breakdown between the Eldar--which seems rather unpropitious timing for the spread of the greatest elvish hit of all times. (There are other ways to deal with that than this version, of course!)

I'm glad that the bit about Maglor and the traders' versions of the Aldudenie rings true. There is a German word word for what can happen to complex compositions passed on third and fourth-hand, I think: "zersingen" (literally "to sing apart"). I don't know whether there is a similar English term.

(And yes, Celvandil and the rest were not at all happy about the Sons of Feanor going off into the wilds for an Aldudenie session like that!)
zopyrus
May. 26th, 2014 03:54 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm convinced about Daeron (he gets called "greatest" the most frequently, although one assumes it must be somewhat a matter of taste), but I have a hard time believing Elemmire's works would have been as popular among the exiles. I mean, he (or she) gets knocked out of the "top three" list by Tinfang Warble...

There is a German word word for what can happen to complex compositions passed on third and fourth-hand, I think: "zersingen" (literally "to sing apart").

That is AMAZING, I am very happy to know that word! I imagine such things get discussed in musicological contexts?
hhimring
May. 26th, 2014 07:51 pm (UTC)
I did a bit of Googling. Apparently, "zersingen" (past participle "zersungen") used to be a technical term among folklorists and refers to both the words and the music. Barry, writing in English, used a corresponding term "wearing down". Nowadays, use of these terms is apparently viewed as problematic, as implying an a priori evaluation of oral adaptation and transmission and its effects as "corruption". However, the term does seem still to get quoted, even in works in English.
zopyrus
May. 26th, 2014 09:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you for following up--this is so interesting!

Nowadays, use of these terms is apparently viewed as problematic, as implying an a priori evaluation of oral adaptation and transmission and its effects as "corruption".

Yeah, that's definitely a concept I remember from undergrad classes. We talked a lot about the original sins of ethnomusicology--which included a lot of wishful misinterpretation of oral traditions!

It's still a great thing to have a word for, though.
blslarner
May. 29th, 2014 05:38 am (UTC)
I can see the obsession growing in him, and the song taking him in the end. Bless his brother for making him face it.
hhimring
Jun. 1st, 2014 11:57 am (UTC)
Thank you very much!
It may seem a lot of fuss about nothing much--but not for Maglor, who is an artist to the core, and Maedhros recognized that about his brother early on.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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