Nightingale's Lament

by Irene Zhong

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A song for our beautiful Shadow of Birds. I say it’s a lament but… whether or not her story is a tragedy is really up to you

(violin, voice, guitar)

extremely rambly/long executive notes:

as usual, the words came first for this song. ‘nightingale’ is such a lovely word, you feel? 20 minutes in the car later, i had verses 1, 2, and 4 (and the 3rd verse was added later since the song didn’t feel quite complete without it?)

i remember wanting to add francais to it at some point but then decided nah too much effort to try and recall what i learnt year 3-7

i’ve always had a soft spot for leli and the warden, so. i chose to use the question/response thing because idk my brain kind of just works better that way? much easier to progress onwards from there.

(as for who is ‘nightingale’- that changes/depends on interpretation. initially i imagined this as leliana literally addressing a nightingale. i mean hey. she’s friends with crows and ravens so why not. but then it could also be the warden? so.)

as for instrumentation, there are way less harmonies than my usual stuff. to reflect solitude, yeah? it would be much less effective to have my usual four part harmony shit going on. leliana is singing by herself, not with a barbershop quartet. the humming at the end was (HOPEFULLY) effective in laying a carpet sound for the melodies. the violin lower part also drops out to make the melody soar (because i’m singing about flying haha ha)

guitar because she was a bard and bards had chordal instruments right (but i suck at guitar so it’s not a major feature)

the violin was going to have more twiddly bits but i decided against it. best to keep it simple and just add ornamentation to the melody. it doubles up the voice because violins can imitate weeping with glissandoes quite well (learnt this from my conductor just the other day hurrah)

THE ACTUAL RECORDING PART THOUGH jesus christ. ok so my first major issue was leli’s accent. see, i can do her voice alright when i’m not singing. but she tends to flatten some of her vowels and uses nasal tones which hinders so many aspects of singing i guess? and she often uses exhales to emphasise an important word. her inflections are also extremely important but that becomes lost when the speech is pitched (ie sung lmao) so. pretty difficult to cram into one night of recording

(oh and yes i usually only do one session of recording- i lose motivation and run out of time if i just leave it)
i kept bumping the fucking pop filter too (while playing violin lmao)
anyway this probably made very little sense but if you were curious to how i operate, THIS IS HOW. all over the place. all the time.

altogether this probably took me about 3 hours…? maybe longer. mostly because i don’t write these songs down. ever. i just plug in the mic and improv until the harmonies work which is stupid


Oh tell me, dear nightingale
Why do you sigh?
Deep in the woods, when the day turns to night
Our bones are so weary, our tears they yet run
We linger in shadows, but we long for the sun.

Oh ask me, dear nightingale
Why do I cry?
Why do I weep, when the darkness is nigh?
Our hearts beat the same, but my hands are all red
How long must I sing for the souls of the dead?

Oh come, my dear nightingale
Come back to me
Some may be blind, but I know that you see
When the sky is on fire, the ground stirs and shakes
I’ll miss your sweet sorrow song, each heartbeat will ache.

Oh fly, my dear nightingale
Fly, far away
And may you find comfort in the Maker, I pray
To laugh and to dance in your new ruby shoes
To love and to live, in the world made anew.


released February 28, 2015



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Irene Zhong Australia

hi, i'm irene! i am an aspiring composer studying composition in uni.

i play the violin, piano, i sing, and i dabble around on pretty much anything i can find. I find most of my inspirations from my personal life, my surroundings, as well as film and game soundtracks. :) ... more

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