Letters from the Muse Room #35 (September 2022)

The “Muse Room” is the room in my house where I make music and my wife makes visual art. Published the first Friday of every other month, each issue of Letters from the Muse Room includes news and updates about my music, as well as something that has inspired me creatively over the past two months.

Dear friends,

I have a couple of new sounds to share with you this month!

My latest composition project has been rewriting TheSpaceBetween, which was premiered last year and had another performance this spring. I wasn’t really satisfied with either version of the piece, and I’ve been fully rewriting it, with mostly new music, for a different instrumentation.

[The opening of TheSpaceBetween.]

The piece is about the distance that the pandemic put between us, and the creative ways of connecting that came about as a result. Each instrument plays a solo line, in isolation; then there are two instruments that play together, then three, then four, and so on, with a piano interlude between each group.

I’m much happier with this version, and I’d like to share part of it with you. Here are a couple of minutes from the middle of the piece, including the quartets, the quintets and the sextet, with piano interludes in between: https://www.ajharbison.com/wp-content/uploads/tsbclip.mp3.

[The sextet, or at least three instruments’ worth of it.]

The other new sounds I wanted to share with you are those of the Olympus Choirs Elements sound library. I recently purchased this library and I’ve been very happy with the way it has sounded.

[Olympus Elements, from SoundIron.]

I spent some time a few weeks ago figuring out how it worked and creating a new MIDI demo of my choral piece Seal Lullaby. It still doesn’t sound like a real choir, of course, but it’s way ahead of what I had before.

I was going to post a before-and-after clip, but in my excitement over how good the “after” sounded, it appears I deleted all the “before” versions. Whoops…. Alas. But! You can hear the “after” on the piece’s page on my website, here: https://ajharbison.com/music/concert/seal-lullaby/.

Finally, for any regular readers who are wondering if I’m able to share news about my orchestra piece, unfortunately the answer is not yet. The performance has gotten pushed back and is not officially confirmed. But I’ll keep you posted, hopefully soon!


I have two things that inspired me this past month, both music-related. Both of them are a mashup of two seemingly unrelated things that I am a fan of, and thus I can’t help being a fan of the result.

I love good rocking metal songs as much as the next guy. But when the good rocking metal songs tell the story of Norse mythology and Ragnarök, the Armageddon-esque battle between the Norse gods and the forces of evil — what’s not to love??

[Album cover of Emblas Saga by Brothers of Metal.]

Brothers of Metal are a Swedish band and they lean into Norse mythology like it’s more real than the real world.

Their official website about page begins, “BROTHERS OF METAL consist of eight powerful Viking warriors that originate from the glorious kingdom of Falun, far up in the north. Falun is a mighty town that lies within the dark iron woods where only true metal warriors reside.”

I love it.

Their label describes them as “a thunderous, catchy mixture of power metal, irresistible melodies, heavy riffs and some folkish elements,” which I’d say is pretty accurate. Their most recent single is “The Other Son of Odin,” and in addition to all those things, it also sounds like all that was awesome in the music of the 80s. Listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFGkutszRFA. And here’s their official YouTube channel, with all their songs: https://www.youtube.com/c/BrothersofMetalOfficial.

The other mashup that inspired me started with Mozart. I love Mozart symphonies as much as the next guy.

[The opening of Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in G Minor.]

But when a Mozart symphony is performed by one of my favorite non-classical bands?

[Rodrigo y Gabriela.]


Here’s the original version of Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in G Minor, first movement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNZGarhNKbA.

And here’s the Rodrigo y Gabriela version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxV2T563b-Y

[Rod y Gab’s Mozart cover artwork.]

I hope you enjoy this music as much as I do. See you in November!

AJ Harbison

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