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The Friendship Variations

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The Friendship Variations

This work was written back in 2019, it took 8 months to complete, I started in January, and I completed it in August.

I originally had this idea of composing music that represents each of my friends, like giving them each their own theme, I had this idea back in 2017, but never really knew how to approach composing it.

Then comes 2019, one of the most stressful years of my life, it started out very stressful, I and just wanted to get away from everything and just write music that isn’t serious at all and just enjoy it, and I thought “How about I go back to that idea of writing music about my friends? And I’ll turn into a big guessing game, I’ll write everybody their own music, and let them all guess who it’s supposed to represent” but this time, I knew exactly how I wanted to approach it, I thought, since I’m just having fun, why not do what Sir Edward Elgar did? With his very famous “Enigma Variations” where he took a theme, wrote variations on it based on each of his friends, I thought I’d do the same, but hide music quotations and references to music by other composers.

This is mixed very badly and is probably too long, I am aware, but I thought it would be fun to share.

This work is mainly in the key of F and F minor, here are the timestamps to each variation and some blurb about the friend or family member it represents (Their identities will remain anonymous):

0:00 “Theme” Fm: The theme was just messing around with the “Enigma” theme and making it different. The theme represents the searching for a friend and finally finding them, hence the change from minor to major, just like the” Enigma” theme.

1:28 “Variation I” E: My mother's variation, sweet, tender, and loving. The second half of this variation hides a tune that my mother used to play for me when I was younger to make me feel better when I was sad, I won’t say what it is, but it was composed by Camille Saint-Saens. Love ya ma!

2:56 “Variation II” Am: My best friend’s brother, one of the most chaotic and energetic people I’ve ever met. there’s really nothing more to it than that.

3:34 “Variation III” Em: my brother, one of the most prominent people in my life, he never takes anything seriously and always finds humor in any situation. the beginning of this one is very dark and brooding, I put some influences from the “Rite Of Spring” to repent a serious matter at hand. The second half is very jolly and has woodwinds and high strings that mimic my brother's laugh to the chords of “Piranha Plant’s Lullaby” before immediately going back to the dark mood again.

5:51 “Variation IV” Cm: a childhood friend, the first stranger I ever considered family, he likes a lot of music that has strings in octaves, in the ending of this one, I put in motif or chord progression that appears more than once throughout the variations, I-V-I, its the first chord progression I remember liking, and coincidently its the first chord progression most musicians learn, to me, it perfectly captures a sense of nostalgia and childhood, I hid it in every variation that represents a childhood friend.

for this variation, its inspiration was variation number 5 from enigma “R.P.A”.

8:15 “Variation V“ B: a friend from high school, one of my closest friends, he has an interesting way of telling you his plans for the day, he’ll say them out loud very proudly, and after he’s done, he walks out of the room in excitement and slams the door behind him. For this variation I directly copied Variation number 7 from enigma, “Troyte” if you slow it down, to me it the bass sounds like “Dance Of The Reed Flutes” by Tchaikovsky, so for this one, I sped up the bass of “Habanera” by Bizet.

9:27 “Variation VI” Ab: Anonymous, a sweet person, always has something to say, very elegant in her character, but at the same time one of the most difficult people I’ve ever met, still, one of the dearest people in my life.

For this variation, its inspiration was variation number 8 from enigma, “W.N” even with the ending of one held note that leads into the next variation.

11:45 “Variation VII” Eb: my best friend, the absolute reason I have faith in this world, he keeps me going daily, I poured all my heart into this variation, along with all the little moments that mean a lot, all the little quarrels we’ve had over the years, everything.

Being the emotional centerpiece of this entire work, of course, I had to take variation number 9 from enigma “Nimrod” as its direct inspiration, but with the chords of “Cid’s Theme” from FFVII by Nobuo Uematsu, to me, it made perfect sense.

I’ve also hidden a few musical jokes in this one, like quoting a passage from a very old popular video, that I won’t say what it is.

15:42 “Variation VIII” F: a friend from high school, he has a very interesting way of speaking, he has an incredibly low pitched voice, and he speaks very slowly, hence the melody being played by low strings and the tempo of this variation, the slowest one in the entire work.

For this variation, its inspiration was “Tortoises” from “Carnival Of The Animals” By Saint-Saens.

17:25 “Variation IX” Fm: my father, this variation represents my father speaking on the phone, with the loudest voice you could ever imagine, incredibly fast talking and very short phone calls, this is the shortest variation in the work. 

Variation number 4 from enigma, “W.M.B” was the direct inspiration for this one. 

18:05 “Variation X” Ebm: a childhood friend, another very close friend of mine. The person I have the most banter with, the two of us are polar opposites of each other, but we still enjoy each other’s company.

For this variation, Holst’s “Uranus: The Magician” was its initial inspiration, with the bouncing bassoons and mischievous rhythm, and also I felt that the tritones in the section after the beginning perfectly capture banter. The second half of this variation takes from Rachmaninoff’s “Symphonic Dances”.

20:10 “Variation XI” Bb: a friend from high school, another very close friend, one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, he always had this dream of joining the army, but couldn’t.

For this variation, I took direct inspirations from the “Pomp And Circumstance” marches by Elgar, also “Barret’s Theme” from FFVII by Nobuo Uematsu.

22:18 “Variation XII” C#m: a friend from college, another close friend, one of the strangest, most mysterious people I’ve ever met, always changes the subject to something else and likes a lot of Russian music.

For this variation, I took many different inspirations, to capture the constant change of subjects, firstly, Holst’s “Neptune: The Mystic” to capture the mysteriousness of this person, then some inspirations from Russian folk music, also, “Hungarian Rhapsody No.2” by Liszt.

25:37 “Variation XIII” a childhood friend, the smartest person I know, at the time of writing this work, he was studying abroad.

For this variation, Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” or “Symphony No. 9” was the inspiration for the beginning, And then, a quotation from Debussy’s “La Mer” plays on the bassoon and celest, him being overseas, I thought “The Ocean” and also, Bach’s “Air On The G String”, you’ll get it.

That’s it! I hope you enjoyed listening to this work, I probably will never revisit this work, but who knows what the future might hold? I might retouch the audio sometime, I might even add new variations!

Thank you for listening! :D

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This is one of the most ambitious project I’ve ever seen! 28 minutes of emotional roller coaster is how I sum up this song. Hope your friends and family and you are doing well!

ZaazNG responds:

Thank you for such kind words! Everybody's doing fine, thank you! :D

Credits & Info


Waiting for 2 more votes

Jun 15, 2021
3:29 AM EDT
File Info
66.2 MB
28 min 54 sec

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