Myth in Modern Culture

Last semester, I had a mythology class. I wrote an analysis of Austin heavy metal band, The Sword’s song Tres Brujas. Enjoy.

Myth in Modern Culture

I have chosen to highlight the 2010 song Tres Brujas (Three Witches) by Austin, Texas nerd metal revivalists The Sword. The song, from the sci-fi concept album Warp Ridersis described in the following excerpt:

Warp Riders tells the tale of Ereth, an archer banished from his tribe on the planet Acheron. A hardscrabble planet that has undergone a tidal lock, which has caused one side to be scorched by three suns, and the other enshrouded in perpetual darkness, it is the background for a tale of strife and fantasy, the battle between pure good and pure evil (Shock Records, 2010).

In Tres Brujas, Ereth encounters a magical object which serves as a supernatural aid, telling him about three witches who embody the Celtic Goddess archetypes, as described in the chorus: the first he will encounter at twilight, and she will love him, embodying the Epona (Stevens 2007) and the Mother (Chang et al. 2013).. The 2nd of the three he will meet at night, and will deceive him, embodying the Morrigan (Stevens 2007) and Shadow (Chang et al., 2013). Ereth will engage her in battle, as she is a formidable warrior. The last he will meet at dawn, and she will instruct him and guide him, as the Macha (Stevens 2007) and the mentor (Chang et al. 2013). Her mentoring is the third verse “Draw back your arrow and let it fly/May your aim be straight and true/Remember all that you have been told/And there might be some hope for you.”

The three witches also render supernatural, material, emotional, and informational aid, assisting him in the successful completion of his quest. As Ereth is unable to complete his journey without the contributions of the women, Three Witches embodies Anima (Chang et al. 2013).

The Sword – Tres Brujas Music video

A strange voice within his mind
From the glowing orb in his hand
Spoke of the properties of certain herbs
Growing wild all across this land

Three witches you shall meet
Along the road to your fate
The first at twilight, the second at night,
And the third at the coming of day

Inhaling deeply of the sacred smoke
Slipping in between the worlds
He beheld a living column of light
And it sang to him without a word

Three witches you shall meet
Upon the path to your fate
The first will love you, the second will deceive you,
And the third will show you the way

Draw back your arrow and let it fly
May your aim be straight and true
Remember all that you have been told
And there might be some hope for you

Three witches you shall meet
Along the road to your fate
The first is twilight, the second is night,
And the third is the coming of day

Works Cited

Chan Huang-Ming, Ivonin, Leonid, Diaz, Marta, Catala, Andreu, Chen, Wei, and Rauterberg,Matthias. “From Mythology to Psychology: Identifying Archetypal Symbols in Movies.” Technoetic Arts: A Journal of Speculative Research 11.2 (2013): 99-113. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.

Stevens, Lorna, and Pauline Maclaran. “Exploring The Celtic Narrative In Advertising: Goddess Culture And The Lexicon Of Perfumery.” Journal Of Strategic Marketing 15.1 (2007): 29-39. Business Source Complete. Web. 3 Mar. 2016.

“The Sword-Warp Riders.” Shockrecords.com.au. 2010. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.

 

 

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No Room For Squares

I dreamed I was playing a peculiar upright bass. The neck had an off-white binding like a guitar, and there were lined and dotted approximations of fret spaces on the binding. The mostly-conventionally-shaped body was made of carbon fiber composites, and the strings were loose and rubbery, despite being consistently in tune. It had a concave bridge profile which enabled slapping and popping, with still a deep,wooden, rounded tone.

I’ve played upright basses, but not extensively. I’ve been monitoring Craigslist for an upright bass for a while. I woke up and remembered how much of an impact jazz has had on my life.

Jazz was the music of my youth. My dad was a gigging musician when I was born, and I vividly remember being sad when Dizzy Gillespie died. I saw a PBS documentary when I was in 2nd grade about Miles Davis, and it blew my mind like Michael Jackson did a few years before. I wrote Miles a letter which went unanswered. Even then, I knew he was *cool*. I later heard of his legendary dislike for interacting with his public. He was a mean man.  I eventually learned about and loved other music, but jazz was my foundation.

I imagined I’d be a jazz musician by the time I was 30, but the truth is I don’t have the chops. My music theory is more intuitive than studied, and I can’t read charts. I am largely self-taught. I can play rock, reggae, and funk just fine, but more technical pieces are challenging. Every jazz song falls into this category, even seemingly simple songs like “I’ve got rhythm.”

One thing I love about jazz is its adaptability. Jazz is not a museum piece- though it enjoyed it’s biggest popularity stateside 1930-1970, jazz is a living music without much of a stylistic orthodoxy. Kamasi Washington is collaborating with Kendrick Lamar, Esperanza Spalding is winning Grammys.

Jazz started as Black music, became palatable to white folks, was gentrified, and now exists with able performers of all ethnicities and nationalities. It is truly a world music, a mother sauce into which other stylistic elements are cast. True, jazz  doesn’t have the global reach of hip hop or reggae, especially among people under 60, but both forms descended from jazz.

I want to take up my musical education again. I need to play with people who will push me. I have groove. I have funk. I have an ear. I have swing. I just need the foundation to make it all tick.

EDIT: after I posted this, I lost track of time playing my bass for 45 minutes, and was happy as The Giving Tree.