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Ian Ring | Opus Arcana

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Classical: Piano solo Classical: Keyboard Music Moods: Type: Instrumental
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Opus Arcana

by Ian Ring

22 pieces for solo piano, each inspired by a card from the Major Arcana of a tarot deck.
Genre: Classical: Piano solo
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Fool
3:36 $1.29
2. Magician
2:12 $1.29
3. High Priestess
5:06 $1.29
4. Empress
2:43 $1.29
5. Emperor
3:05 $1.29
6. Hierophant
2:31 $1.29
7. Lovers
4:20 $1.29
8. Chariot
3:10 $1.29
9. Strength
2:42 $1.29
10. Hermit
3:11 $1.29
11. Wheel of Fortune
3:36 $1.29
12. Justice
2:56 $1.29
13. Hanged Man
2:48 $1.29
14. Death
3:26 $1.29
15. Temperance
3:17 $1.29
16. Devil
2:03 $1.29
17. Tower
2:49 $1.29
18. Star
4:02 $1.29
19. Moon
3:42 $1.29
20. Sun
2:56 $1.29
21. Judgement
2:26 $1.29
22. World
4:41 $1.29
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
In the spring of 2015, I had just finished publishing a series of short pieces for solo piano, and decided I wanted to tackle a more ambitious, large-scale project. I knew what parameters the project would have: it had to be a series with a strict cardinality, with a set number of movements so its scope is unambiguous; I wanted to write something based on a culturally significant work of literature or mythology, preferably something with evocative imagery. Since I am drawn to matters esoteric and occult, I looked for something from the Wiccan liturgy, Occult lore, or something else plucked from a fascinating arcane source.

The Tarot checked all those boxes. I’ve been a student of the tarot for most of my life, and their symbolism is poignantly universal and archetypal. Alas the challenge of composing music for all seventy-eight cards was a bit too ambitious, so I sensibly limited the project just to the twenty-two Major Arcana.

From the beginning, I estimated that I would be able to produce one new movement per month. Starting the composition in July 2015, at that rate I would complete the entire project around May of 2017. The 22 movements were strictly prescribed, but I didn’t tackle them in order one at a time. Rather, I picked away at them randomly, exploring themes and playing with melodies whenever I had time and peace of mind to do so, meditating on one card or another to see what musical gestures they inspired. Then when one of them seemed to congeal or a theme emerged that felt right, I would run with it and work on it until it was finished. In this way I published individual movements occasionally, over the course of 2.5 years.

Completion took about four months longer than expected, due to some dry spells and distractions. During those two and a half years to complete the work, I also scored my first film soundtrack, and I recorded and released the Summary Of The First Half album comprising a selection of solo piano work composed before 2015. I also started a massive autodidactic journey into music notation, engraving, publishing, recording, mastering, and marketing.

Opus Arcana was not only a compositional challenge, it was also a technical and professional challenge that I recognize as the beginning of a new mature phase of my artistic life. While working on these movements, I was simultaneously taking courses in audio engineering so that I would be capable of producing commercial release quality audio recordings of each one. I was also pursuing a deeply immersive study of the art of fine music engraving, including the daunting challenge of learning Lilypond, so that I could produce the best quality sheet music possible. I consumed piles of books about copyright, music licensing and self-publishing.

The compositional and technical challenges were anticipated and welcomed. But I was surprised - perhaps naïvely in retrospect - by the extent to which working on Opus Arcana would become a psychological and emotional journey. In order to arouse a musical inspiration from each card, I needed to dig into my own biography for the emotional raw materials it required. Each card became a prompt for introspection. Some cards were more difficult than others, and often not the ones I expected. And I believe the influence of that introspection bled into my every day life.

Throughout the project, it was uncanny how as I was working on one of the movements, its character and influence made itself felt in my life. Hermit came along at a time when I was mired in introspection and seeking guidance. Tower was composed during a month of chaos and upheaval. Moon emerged during a month when some things in my life where causing anxiety and worry. And on and on. Almost without exception, the completion of each movement of Opus Arcana marked a time in my life when the influence of that card was felt in my life, for better or worse, in one way or another.

The correlation was uncanny, and frankly annoying. I often asked myself, are the cards actually influencing my life? Is my meditation upon their symbolism affecting my experiences in the real world? Or is it the other way around - is the normal flow of my life shaping receptiveness to certain cards, favouring the creation of music when things in my every day are congruent with that card? I think it’s probably the latter. But it is fun to imagine that the cards were actually exerting a magical influence on me, despite how awful it was during the months I was working on Devil, Tower, and Moon.

And I do think it’s fitting that the final two movements that I completed - Chariot and World, are about getting hard work done, and culmination and satisfaction, respectively.

I hope you enjoy the music as much as I enjoyed bringing them into the world.

Ian Ring, February 2018



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