Track: Mars, the Bringer of War
Artist: Gustav Holst
Suite: The Planets, Op. 32 (1916)
Genre: Classical, Orchestral
Hey everyone, before I get into today’s track of the day, allow me to say that I am back from my hiatus and I hope to get back into the routine of posting regular contact on the site. Today, we are going to look at “Mars, the Bringer of War” from Gustav Holst‘s suite, The Planets, but before I begin, let me just put up my flame shields. I am by no means a professional music critic and some may find my analysis of such a masterpiece rather crude and uninformed. If you’re going to be offended by this post, then all I can say is screw you! You can take your snobby and sophisticated butt elsewhere. These posts are about MY interpretations and feelings for songs that I enjoy in MY everyday life. So, without further delay, check this out!
For those uninitiated with The Planets, it basically set the precedent for what the soundtrack of space is supposed to be. You’ll be quick to notice the inspiration this suite, and especially “Mars”, has played for modern composers of space epics such as John Williams and Glen Stafford. While listening to this piece, it is quite easy to imagine dogfights between Rebel and Imperial fighters or Terran and Protoss forces due to this signature “space” sound.
“Mars” begins with brooding long tones from the bass section that parallels the approach of an incoming armada. The complex rhythm in the background played by the strings keeps the listener on edge and warns that the intensity of the piece is going to ramp up. There is a call and answer between the trumpets and horns, leading one to imagine the gap closing between two opposing forces. The melody is traded off between the trumpets, low brass, and strings with flutes in the back, producing waves of force that steadily become more intense. There is a small reprieve from the built up energy as the strings keep the momentum moving. This calm is short-lived, however, as the horns and trumpets trade back and forth, enemy forces drawing closer. The melodies begin interacting, first contact soon, then the trumpets and horns are heard fighting for the melody, interrupting each other. Combat is in full swing. The intense battle continues for a time before devastating tones from the low brass and rolls on the cymbals and tympani signal some kind of catastrophe that quiets the battlefield. Time is needed forthe opposing sides to regroup their forces and plan for the next attack; a marching snare and mellow tones sound in the background. The trumpets and strings crescendo as more forceful waves build intensity towards the upcoming battle. Several voices join in with the strings, reintroducing the complex cadence and brooding bass from before. Shit is about to go down. The horns are back and they clash with the trumpets again. Combat resumes. Tension builds as the song peaks with a cymbal crash. Action dies down momentarily, but not before all of the voices burst in again for one final, bellowing movement. A loud tone closes the piece alongside the rolling tympani and fades into silence, leaving the outcome of the conflict unknown to the listener.
“Mars, the Bringer of War” is a very exciting and action-packed piece. If you are one who is frequently turned off by the pretentiousness of classical music, I urge you, give this song a try. The excitement, intensity, and familiarity of style will definitely make it one of your top picks for the genre. I recommend it to everyone, especially to those looking to get their adrenaline fix.
Didn’t fancy what you heard? Keep checking back! I’m going to be covering a large variety of music during my time here on The Harmony, so I’m bound to feature something you’d like. If a song seems unfamiliar or unconventional to you, I suggest giving it a try anyways. You’d be surprised what you can learn to like if you have an open mind!
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