Mysticism and symbolism in music has been common since the start of art music in the Western World, around the Middle Ages. It certainly took a more concrete form in music history after the Romantic Era took hold, in the 19th century. When I composed the suite Tarot Cards in 2018, I certainly had this romantic mysticism in mind as I was composing this seminal work for Classical Guitar.
When depicting the Moon, I wanted to write a piece that flows. I also wanted the listener to be enlightened because the moon is often the brightest thing in the sky. We are often distracted, especially those of us that live in the big cities, by bright shiny objects at night that stress us. In contrast the Moon is the opposite, filling us with Love and Awe as we gaze up into the clear night sky.
Tarot Cards is based on the Major Arcana cards of the Tarot de Marseille deck, and we are fortunate to have many illustrations of this deck to guide us in its symbolism and how this card should be represented in music.
What is the meaning of the Tarot Moon ?
What we see when the moon lights up the dark night is an almost otherworldy reflection of what is otherwise our natural environment. Moonlight accentuates the shadows and the coldness of the Earth on a dark night. A scene illuminated by The Moon at night lets our imagination run wild with the shapes and colours of the shadows. You will hear all of this represented in The Moon. This should not make us fear the world but instead make us feel thoughtful about who we are.
How is the Moon Represented in Music?
To give The Moon its colour in Tarot Cards, I decided to go for a less traditional approach to harmonizing the piece. The harmonic sequence in this composition was inspired by an idea by Jacob Collier that he presented during a Masterclass at Berklee College. Jacob Collier is a multi-instrumentalist and an expert in Jazz harmony who seems to be most happy when playing some sort of percussion instrument.
During this Masterclass, Jacob presents the idea that there is a single note that is held through the entire beginning sequence that ties together the three chords - the C Sharp or D flat note. Interestingly enough, my former guitar teacher also recommended I try something like this in my compositions.
How does The Moon end?
When the piece comes to a conclusion I decided to finish with a flourish and use a technique borrowed from the fingerstyle guitar world. This is the technique of "Cascading Harmonics" popularized by Tommy Emmanuel.
For this Tarot Card's music video I filmed it inside, in one of the small rooms in my apartment where most of Tarot Cards was recorded.
Watch the music video on Youtube.