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“Dance of the Fireflies”

An image can be a wonderful prompt for composition. We show you how.

The inspiration for our Second Saturday composition last month was this remarkable photograph of a nighttime forest illuminated by countless fireflies. We shared the image over Zoom and for two minutes we each wrote down words evoked by this vision.

To begin creating our composition, we began with a percussion window. Imagining all of those fireflies flashing their lamps in the dark, we created a rapid, scintillating beat, steady punctuated by small irregularities–the way we imagine Nature to be.

Next, we composed a jaunty “firefly theme song,” orchestrated for dulcimer. Peter suggested including an almost-identical melody as a second version of the theme. Again, the almost-but-not-quite-the-same quality of living beings.

We had our musical fireflies, but not the world they inhabit. To portray the beauty and mystery of the nocturnal forest, we composed a bass line of “forest music.”

A breeze blowing through the grove:

Add a sprinkling of pixie dust:

With the musical building blocks for our world in hand, we went to work, first establishing the mood of the forest at night, a place of mystery that erupts with rapturous swarming dance of fireflies. Things get a little wild!

Photo of fireflies courtesy of Daniel Kordan

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